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January 12, 2004 - Monterrey, Mexico

I am pleased and honoured to be here in Monterrey at this first gathering of hemispheric leaders since the Quebec City Summit of the Americas, as well as my first international meeting as Canada’s Prime Minister.

Allow me, therefore, to express my deepest appreciation to President Fox for hosting this pivotal Summit. Under your Chairmanship, I am confident that we will achieve concrete results to improve the lives of all the citizens of the Americas. I also wish to express my deepest condolences to the people of Dominica on the untimely death of Prime Minister Pierre Charles. Canada, like all the other countries of the OAS family, feels your great loss.

We are at a challenging moment in the hemispheric process. Horizons have changed dramatically since the Quebec City Summit almost three years ago. Growth is weak in many countries, and governments face severe pressures. Global competition has intensified; there are new challenges to global and regional economic integration. And new threats to our security have emerged – terrorism, on the one hand, the growth of the drug trade, corruption and transnational crime on the other. All put the very foundations of democracy at risk.

The Summit of the Americas is where all the democratically-elected Leaders of the Americas can come together to define an agenda for people, to measure progress, and to address these new challenges.

Today we are gathered in Monterrey for this Special Summit precisely because we are in challenging times. It is fitting we are here. This is where, in March 2002, world leaders adopted the “Monterrey Consensus”, a fresh set of principles to define a new partnership in development. Developing countries undertook to establish the right conditions to promote growth that is sustainable. In return, industrialized countries undertook to provide assistance to those that do so.

What are those right conditions? Essentially, as the G20 said three years ago in Montreal, they are not only establishing the economic and regulatory frameworks to encourage growth, but also ensuring that the appropriate social policies are in place – so that the benefits of that growth will reach all citizens in an equitable way.

How do we do it? There are three equally important elements. First, we undertake fiscal reforms, establish a regulatory framework so that institutions are transparent and effective; we get the sequence right on trade liberalization, and we ensure a strong financial system. Second, at the same time we build a social safety net that includes accessible and high quality health care and education. And finally, we must do all of these things in an inclusive way so that these policies respond to the needs that citizens themselves express.

As many studies have shown, even very small reductions in inequality tied to modest growth can have very large positive effects on poverty reduction. Indeed, it is the failure to implement change in an integrated, balanced way that has compromised growth, development, and even democratic governance in many countries.

Canada proposed holding this Special Summit so that we can restore confidence and progress in the Americas at this time of resurgent protectionism and challenges to sometimes fragile democratic institutions. Like the first Monterrey meeting, I hope this meeting will also be a turning point, one where we reinforce a constructive path of cooperation. We have to find ways to improve equity, to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, create opportunities for all, and finally, reduce corruption in our hemisphere.

Sovereignty in the 21st century is increasingly about open, democratic, and accountable governments building partnerships at all levels, thereby creating a more secure and prosperous world for all. All of us must face up to the challenges of globalization by embracing comprehensive trade liberalization, fiscal prudence, economic and investment reforms, and a commitment to knowledge and innovation. But at the same time, we must maintain our commitment to the social safety net, knowing that a successful society depends upon a healthy, well-educated population. For some of the countries here, this is very difficult.

That is why we in the developed economies must recognize our responsibility to assist, both bilaterally and through the hemisphere’s regional intergovernmental institutions.

President Fox, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, this is our hemisphere and I look forward to working with you and all of our colleagues, at this Summit and beyond, to strengthen our cooperation to build growing, open and equitable societies.