PM, provinces to discuss economy November 10

Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:27pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will meet the leaders of the country's 10 provinces on November 10 in Ottawa to discuss the souring economy, Harper's office announced on Tuesday.

It gave no further details. Some provincial premiers say the federal government should be doing more to help them deal with the side effects of the global financial crisis.

Harper said earlier this month he planned to have a series of meetings with his provincial counterparts on how to handle the economic damage from the crisis. Also attending will be the premiers of the three sparsely populated northern territories.

Harper was due to meet federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty later on Tuesday for talks on a series of upcoming international meetings on the financial crisis, which is hitting Canada with increasing power.

During the campaign ahead of an Oct 14 general election the ruling Conservatives promised not to run a budget deficit over the next four years. Flaherty said on Sunday he could not rule out going into the red next year.

Former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, who Harper defeated in a January 2006 election, said there would be "no excuse" for Canada running a deficit. When Harper took over, the government surplus was C$12 billion ($9.2 billion).

The Conservatives then cut a federal goods and services tax by 2 percentage points, reducing the surplus to around C$2 billion. Some senior economists say the government will definitely run a deficit next year.

"You have to have the margin of maneuver (so) that when things get into big difficulties outside our borders, you can step in, you can invest in infrastructure, you can cut taxes, you can do whatever you have to," Martin told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp in a radio interview broadcast on Tuesday.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway)