The Comment

G-7 challenged as never before. Meloni pressured for solutions

TORONTO – After cutting through the “fog of war”, two urgent issues threaten the European Union and the NATO Alliance. They are as easily identifiable as they are complex in their solution. One is the issue of “immigration”, the other of devastating “wars”: one in Ukraine, the other in Gaza.

The dimensions of the mass migration from countries of origin through Europe is beyond the comprehension/appreciation of those who live the isolated North American experience.  The four European members of the G-7 cannot live in “blissful ignorance”.

According to the UNHCR portal, as of February 15, 2024, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused some 10,00o killed and generated over six million refugees (6,479,700) to seek “safe spaces” elsewhere: 6.004,100 in Europe, 475,600 beyond Europe (graphics below – from Wikipedia / UNHCR – referred to data in July 2023).

Over the last two years, the monetary cost of accommodating the refugees into Europe, on a purchasing power basis, in comparable Canadian dollars, would approximate $187 Billion. Those material costs are only the beginning. The economic dislocation has required a delicate balancing act.

It will only get worse as the USA continues to press its G-7 and NATO partners to increase defense spending to 2% of GDP, annually – for Canada, that’s roughly $40 billion, twice the current level (over the next five years an additional $100 billion). “Sabre rattlers” like French President Macron, by design or for effect, are stoking the flames of “militarization” with their aggressive language of [NATO] “boots on the ground” in Ukraine.

He is not saying the same thing in respect of Gaza where the consensus number of people killed has surpassed 30,000 ( an estimated 40% of them children under the age of 14) and the number of dislocated has gone beyond the one million mark. Arab and Muslim refugees and emigres are appearing in Canada and North America in never-before seen numbers, giving rise to “diaspora politics” with an edge.

While Canada is grappling with its International Visa Student crisis (650,000 of them last year) and its million + “undocumented workers”, Italy has a serious demographic issue of its own. In the last ten years, approximately 400,000 people [smuggled] from Africa, each year try to land on its shores – the Coast Guard collects more than 2,000 of these unfortunate souls from the Mediterranean, yearly.

Prime Ministers Meloni and Trudeau, as Chairs for this and next year’s G-7 meeting could propose alternatives to what has not been working and forge an alliance to advance something other than war.

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