CBC Digital Archives

Shining up Toronto for the 1988 G7 Summit

It began in 1975 as an exclusive intellectual retreat where leaders of the world's industrial powers could discuss common interests face to face. What is now the annual G8 economic summit has been criticized as an expensive, media-oriented display that yields few tangible accomplishments. As Canada plays host for the fifth time in 2010, CBC Digital Archives looks back at the preparations, the players and the protests when the world's wealthiest power brokers came calling in 1981, 1988, 1995 and 2002.

media clip
Seven years after the first economic summit of world leaders, it's finally Canada's turn to play host in 1981. The main players have arrived at a chateau in Montebello, Que., and a 2,000-strong contingent of reporters is hunkered down at the media centre in Ottawa 50 kilometres away. The mix is irresistible for protesters, who hope to catch attention for issues ranging from the war in El Salvador to rights for cyclists. In this trio of reports, CBC correspondents cover the summit's history and the protest and press surrounding it.
• To garner support for Canada's agenda at the summit, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau embarked on a four-day tour of Europe in June 1981. With stops in France, West Germany and Britain, he sought to head off a confrontation between the European members and the United States. He was also hoping to win the leaders over to his viewpoint that the summit must address the "North-South" problem. The term, which has largely fallen out of favour, referred to the increasing chasm in wealth among the richer nations in the northern hemisphere and the poorer nations in the southern hemisphere.
  • The 1981 summit was projected to cost an estimated total of $7 million to $10 million, according to the Globe and Mail of July 15, 1981. At least $2 million of that was for security at the Chateau Montebello, where the summit took place. RCMP officers formed a human chain on three sides of the property and frogmen and river patrols covered the fourth side on the Ottawa River.

• It was U.S. president Ronald Reagan's first G7 Summit as president, and when he disembarked from his helicopter he shrugged off any suggestion he might have the jitters. "How can I be nervous?" he told reporters. "I'm among friends."

• At the summit, leaders Helmut Schmidt of West Germany and François Mitterrand of France criticized Reagan for high global interest rates that they said were crushing their economies. The group also issued a statement deploring violence in the Middle East, which had recently erupted between Israel and southern Lebanon.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: June 15, 1988
Guest(s): Art Eggleton
Reporter: Dan Bjarnason
Duration: 2:43

Last updated: June 17, 2013

Page consulted on September 11, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

1982: First Canadian to conquer Everest

Calgary native Laurie Skreslet is the first Canadian to climb Mount Everest.

1999: Summit hopes to restore Canada's hockey...

Hockey stars and young players gather at the Open Ice summit to brainstorm on improving Canada...

1981: Canada hosts its first G7 economic summ...

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau welcomes the world's most powerful leaders to Montebello, Que.

At the Summit: Canada Welcomes the G8

It began in 1975 as an exclusive intellectual retreat where leaders of the world's industrial ...

2002 G8 Summit devises 'landmark document for...

The leaders at the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alta. have come up with a plan for aid in Africa, ...

Protesters at the Kananaskis G8

As Kananaskis, Alta. prepares to host the 2002 G8 Summit, protesters have come out in full for...