Trudeau co-hosts UN COVID-19 conference as Canada continues Security Council bid

OTTAWA — Canada will co-host a major United Nations conference on dealing with the economic crisis spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will play a lead role in the Thursday event with his Jamaican counterpart Andrew Holness and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

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The top priority will be expanding liquidity in the global economy and maintaining financial stability while safeguarding the gains being made in helping less-developed countries.

The conference will certainly raise Canada's profile as it competes for a seat on the UN Security Council next month against Norway and Ireland.

Trudeau has spoken to his French, German and other Caribbean nation counterparts about Thursday's conference.

"Canadian jobs and businesses depend on stable and productive economies in other countries, so it matters to us how everyone weathers this storm," Trudeau said Tuesday.

He said more than 300 million people across the globe will lose their jobs and 30 million will be pushed into extreme poverty.

"We can't wait for others to act. It's not in our self-interest, and it's just not who we are."

Trudeau's office said the high-level talks will also look at engaging private sector creditors to save jobs and lower the transaction costs of remittances, the crucial funds that diaspora communities often send back to their home countries. They will also discuss how to prevent illicit flows of money.

The group will also look at "ensuring a sustainable and inclusive recovery by aligning recovery policies with the Sustainable Development Goals," the Prime Minister's Office said.

The UN vote is set for next month, and Canada is running on a platform of trying to help rebuild the post-pandemic world. It pits Canada against Norway and Ireland for two non-permanent seats on the council, starting next year. The winners will serve for two years alongside the five permanent members of the council — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia.

Canada is basing its bid for a seat on what it says is its international leadership during the pandemic in the UN and other multilateral institutions such as the G7 and G20.

That includes convening groups of countries to work on ensuring food security in developing countries, keeping vital supply chains open across the globe, and working on new financing models to help countries recover from economic ruin caused by the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2020.

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