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Paul Martin calls for G20 to expand beyond economic disasters

Syrian children play in muddy water in an improvised camp on the border line between Macedonia and Serbia, near northern Macedonian village of Tabanovce, Tuesday, March 8, 2016. Former prime minister Paul Martin says the G20 needs to expand its scope to help in times of crises.
Syrian children play in muddy water in an improvised camp on the border line between Macedonia and Serbia, near northern Macedonian village of Tabanovce, Tuesday, March 8, 2016. Former prime minister Paul Martin says the G20 needs to expand its scope to help in times of crises. AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski

OTTAWA – Former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin says the G20 needs to widen its economic mandate to include helping United Nations agencies fight diseases and cope with a record number of refugees.

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Martin offers that prescription for an international club that he helped to create, and that many, himself included, now find ailing, in a Tuesday night speech in Ottawa.

Martin was one of the driving forces behind the G20 in the late 1990s when he was Canada’s finance minister. Back then it was club for finance ministers, who were meeting to deal with what was then a financial crisis in Asia.

In 2008, world leaders took the G20 over and it became the world’s leading economic organization in the fight against the Great Recession.

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After a handful of emergency leaders’ summits, the G20 became a permanent club in 2010 when then-Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper hosted it in Toronto.

Martin says the G20 needs to focus more broadly, to find a way to help UN humanitarian agencies on the front lines of world crises – the World Health Organization, the World Food Program and the High Commissioner for Refugees – get the money they need to help people.

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