Taking a final exam at McGill University today? Be prepared for more stress than usual.
Under heavy security, seven cabinet ministers from the G8 countries are getting together for an unannounced, on-campus private parley with international union and business leaders.
Coming right in the middle of spring exam period for most of McGill's 17,000 undergraduate students, the event could be a headache if it gets in the way of normal university business.
The private meeting, which starts at 5 p.m. (just as the last exams of the day are over) and is followed by a campus tour at 7 p.m. and supper at Redpath Hall, will bring together seven G8 ministers of labour and employment.
Jane Stewart, Canada's minister of human resources development, will preside as the ministers meet representatives of the International Labour Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, as well as Canadian and Quebec union leaders.
Also Kept Secret
It's all a prelude to an official, closed-door meeting of the ministers in Montreal tomorrow and Saturday - whose location, again for security reasons, is also being kept secret.
On the agenda are the jobs of millions of workers in Canada and the world's other largest economies, Stewart told The Gazette yesterday.
Maximizing the labour force by getting more aboriginals, immigrants and people with disabilities into the job market, training older workers and creating new jobs in the modern economy - those are key, Stewart said.
She and her counterparts from the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, as well as the employment commissioner of the European Union, are scheduled to attend the meetings. France's minister won't be there.
The ministers have met seven times since the process was begun in Detroit in 1994; this is the first time Canada has been host to the event. It's the last high-profile meeting of G8 ministers before the G8 summit of heads of state in Kananaskis, Alta., June 26-27.
"We want three things addressed: jobs, skills and rights, not in the abstract but in real terms," said Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, which represents 2.6 million workers.
Mayor at Function
After today's meeting, the ministers and other leaders are to visit McGill's Dawson Hall to see a plaque that marks the wartime exile years of the Geneva-based ILO. From 1940 to 1946, its headquarters were at McGill.
The ministers and leaders will then have supper at Redpath Hall. Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay will attend the function, his office said yesterday.
Unions, meanwhile, are planning a rally on global labour practices tomorrow at noon in Carré St. Louis, off St. Denis St. near Cherrier St.
Unions want the G8 countries to emphasize job training and recognize the skills of immigrant workers, said René Roy, secretary-general of the Quebec Federation of Labour, the province's largest union federation.
If globalization means the freer flow of capital internationally, "then we want people to be able to circulate just as easily, with all the training and knowledge they have," Roy said.
- The official homepage for this week's meeting is www.g8montreal2002.ca; a more general Web site for the June G8 summit in Alberta is www.g8.gc.ca. The University of Toronto has a G8 information centre Web site at www.g7.utoronto.ca. The unions are at www.ftq.qc.ca and www.clc-ctc.ca.
- Jeff Heinrich's E-mail address is email@example.com.
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