Canada to argue against global controls at summit

Fri Nov 14, 2008 4:43pm EST
 
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By Jeffrey Jones and Randall Palmer

WINNIPEG, Manitoba/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper will advocate strong national oversight of markets and international consultation in talks with world leaders this weekend, but will argue against global regulation as a way to solve the economic crisis.

Harper said on Friday that measures aimed at stopping the meltdown must not infringe on national sovereignty or impede free trade. He made the remarks to reporters before traveling to Washington for a meeting of leaders from developed and emerging countries that make up the Group of 20.

"I don't think the major economies will ... consent to have external controls over their regulatory systems," the Conservative leader said. "Compulsory global governance ... is unrealistic, will never be accepted."

Harper has frequently pointed out that the Canadian financial system has escaped relatively unscathed from the crisis and said its resilience showed the need for some sort of regulation -- but only at a national level.

"Unregulated financial markets do not work. Canada has known that for a long time," he said at his Conservative Party's convention in Winnipeg. "I thought, frankly, we all knew that from events of many decades ago, but obviously the United States went on a different path."

Canadian officials in Washington for the summit said Ottawa was pushing for a mandatory and public international review of the financial systems in individual countries.

Twice Canada has voluntarily undergone such a review under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund's Financial Sector Assessment Program. Still, Harper says, it is up to the country involved to change its ways -- influenced by international moral suasion.

"It's incumbent on the United States and others that if they make regulatory reforms, that we allow peer-review mechanisms ... to give us evaluations and suggestions," he said. "Not to impose solutions -- we want to respect national sovereignty."   Continued...

 
<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper leaves after speaking with the media at the Conservative Party of Canada's National Policy Convention in Winnipeg, Manitoba on November 14, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Greenslade</p>