Prime Minister Stephen Harper is facing a decision that could fundamentally change the ordering of global affairs and determine Canada's future role on the international stage.

Away from the more pressing concern of nurturing a fragile economic recovery, governments in the Group of 20 nations, whose leaders reconvene in Pittsburgh this week for the third time in less than a year, are engaged in a debate about whether the G20 will remain the global economy's steering committee once the financial crisis has finally passed.

By historical accident, Mr. Harper finds himself in a position to play a pivotal role in determining the...

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