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PM heads to Korea amid currency talks and G20 protests

1. Far East talks. It's a break week here on Parliament Hill - but there will be no shortage of political news.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is off to South Korea to take part in the second G20 summit of 2010. The leaders of the world's 20 largest economies will get together on Thursday and Friday in Seoul to discuss a range of trade-related issues.

That will be followed by a meeting in Japan of the 21 leaders who head countries that are part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC).

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Topping the agendas of both meetings is the global trade imbalance and what is referred to as the "war of currencies" - a complaint on the part of some nations, especially the Unites States, that China is keeping its Yuan artificially low to boost exports.

Mr. Harper has sent a letter to his G20 counterparts warning that they must focus "large and unsustainable current account imbalances, in deficit and surplus countries." He has also said they must build on the success of the Toronto meeting.

Of course, some Canadians are still asking whether the Toronto summit was worth it - given the violence in the streets, the mass arrests, the cost to business, and the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars that has been handed to taxpayers.

And Seoul could be in for the same thing.

There have already been demonstrations in the Korean capital. Tens of thousands of activists protested on Sunday - a crowd that was eventually dispersed with pepper spray. Before police broke up the event, some of the leaders of the protest were chanting: "We will never allow only 20 elite countries to decide the whole world's future."

2. Mideast tension. Before he heads east, Stephen Harper will speak to parliamentarians from 40 countries who are in Ottawa this week to take part in a conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition on Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA). It's a meeting of international politicians who are supporters of Israel.

Here in Canada, a group of MPs from all parties has started its own Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism(CPCCA). An unofficial committee of the House of Commons, it has held hearings into what it calls the new anti-Semitism, which its members say is manifested in excessive and unjust criticism of the state of Israel.

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The Bloc Québécois pulled out the committee last March citing the "the inequality of opinions presented before the Coalition," and "the refusal of the Steering Committee to hear groups with opposing viewpoints."

A report prepared by the committee, which is funded by the federal government, was due in May but was delayed by many months and was expected to be released at this week's meeting.

A group called Independent Jewish Voices will hold a press conference Monday reveal what it says are "startling details of how the CPCCA and ICCA have an agenda to attack free speech and to silence legitimate criticism of Israel by falsely conflating this with anti-Semitism."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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