Harper rejects meeting on financial crisis

Mon Sep 29, 2008 6:09pm EDT
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejected an appeal on Monday for an emergency, all-party meeting on the global financial crisis, made by one of his main opponents in the October 14 election campaign.

Jack Layton, leader of the left-leaning New Democratic Party, urged the Conservative prime minister to convene the meeting this week in Ottawa, where party leaders are scheduled to participate in televised debates on Wednesday and Thursday.

But the Conservatives ruled out any extraordinary meeting, saying discussions should take place within the framework of the public debates.

"The leaders will be meeting twice this week to discuss the economy and other issues but it won't be behind closed doors, it will be in front of all Canadians in the leaders' debates," said Harper spokesman Kory Teneycke.

The largest opposition party, the Liberals, did not publicly respond to the New Democrats' suggestion.

Layton's appeal came moments after the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a proposed US$700 billion bailout package for distressed financial institutions.

"We are in an election campaign, and we will continue to compete for who is going to be the next prime minister," Layton said in a statement.

"But perhaps this situation is beginning to resemble one where Canada's political parties need to consider what needs to be done, by Parliament as a whole, to ensure Canadian families are safe and secure," he said.   Continued...

<p>Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper listens to a question during a news conference in Ottawa September 29, 2008. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election on October 14. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>