Stephen Harper's 4-day Chicago "vacation" got cut to 2 days. This happens to regular people, not usually to leaders of world countries. Prime Minister Harper will be in Camp David today and Saturday for the G8 summit (that was supposed to be in Chicago). He then travels on to Chicago Sunday and Monday for the NATO summit.
The chances of me seeing the prime minister in Chicago is highly slim, though Michael Igantieff, who tried to get Harper's job in 2011, was here last night (more on that later). So many downtown companies are encouraging their workers to telecommute. Still, we will try to cover Canada's perspective with G8 and NATO. Unlike most of the other world leaders, Harper isn't in any danger of jet lag.
Canada got into the spotlight the day before the wave of protests will begin. A group protesting against Canadian oil smeared a corn syrup type substance on themselves to symbolize the "dirtiness" of oil, and protested outside the Canadian Consulate in Chicago.
Harper and Canada hosted the G20 summit in Toronto in 2010, and we know how miserable that turned out to be. Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's chief of staff, is Chicago's mayor. And the fact that the Obama people were afraid to have the G8 in Obama's hometown during the election season speaks volumes.
As for the NATO summit itself, Canada has already pulled its troops out of Afghanistan, and the plan is for the trainers to leave by the end of 2014. The head of NATO wants Canada to stay beyond that date, and Harper is considering the possibility. 2015 is an election year for Harper; depending on how that goes, Harper may be more or less likely to agree to that request.
G8 will focus mostly on the economy, especially what has been happening in Greece with a slice of Italy and what will happen to the euro zone, given France's change in power.
To give a broader perspective on what these summits can bring, you can check out our G20 coverage about Toronto in the links below.