Continued from page 1

Britain, Germany, France and Japan have all unveiled deficit-cutting plans. Canada’s Harper was urging the countries to agree to concrete deficit-reduction goals as a way of restoring investor confidence following the turmoil caused by the Greek debt crisis.

Asked about the disputes over stimulus spending versus deficit reductions, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said, “One size doesn’t fit all.”

Toronto was braced for the potential of disruptive protests that so far have not materialized.

Toronto’s downtown core resembled a fortress with a big steel and concrete fence erected over several blocks to protect the summit site. Canadian police patrolled the Lake Ontario waterfront from boats and jet skis. The number of security forces protecting the summit meetings was estimated to total 19,000, drawn from all over Canada.

The G-20 leaders’ summits began in the fall of 2008 in response to the global economic crisis that struck with fury after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a major U.S. investment bank.

At that time, the leaders joined to assemble multibillion-dollar support packages to restart economic growth and financial rescue efforts to rescue a froze global banking system.

But now that the banks are back from the brink and the world’s economies are growing again, unity is proving more elusive.

Mr. Obama sent a letter last week warning that removing the massive government stimulus spending too quickly could represent a repeat of the disastrous mistakes of the 1930s that prolonged the Great Depression.

But Mr. Harper sent out his own letter urging establishment of firm deficit reduction goals.

Some leaders didn’t appreciate being lectured by Mr. Obama on the need for countries running trade surpluses, which would include China, Germany and Japan, to do more to boost domestic spending to help the global economy while U.S. consumers, long the driver of global growth, begin to save more.

“German export successes reflect the high competitiveness and innovation strength of our companies,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview published in the Wall Street Journal. “Artificially reducing Germany’s competitiveness would be of no use to anyone.”

It will be the first appearance at the G-20 table for British Prime Minister David Cameron and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. And both were bearing deficit-cutting messages.

Mr. Cameron comes after his Conservative government unveiled an emergency budget Tuesday that contained higher taxes and the toughest cuts in public spending in decades. And Mr. Kan said this week that deficit reduction would be his top agenda item at the Canadian meetings and that Japan would soon start debating a possible sales tax increase to rein in the nation’s bulging deficits.

Talking to reporters on the flight from London, Mr. Cameron sought to play down any differences with the United States.

“This weekend isn’t about a row over fiscal policy. We all agree about the need for fiscal consolidation,” he said. “This is about putting the world economy on an irreversible path to recovery.”

Story Continues →