Harper less gloomy on economic crisis

Thu Jan 8, 2009 6:03am EST
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper was less gloomy about the economy in an interview released on Thursday, saying Canada was in a strong economic position compared with others and should be able to exit the recession relatively quickly.

The comments to Maclean's magazine were noticeably more cheerful than those he made in an interview in mid-December, when he said he was very worried about the economy and speculated about the possibility of a depression.

Harper, who as recently as mid-October said he had a plan to avoid recession, now concedes there is no chance Canada can escape the global economic crisis. Ottawa has already made clear it will run budget deficits for the next few years.

The minority Conservative government will unveil a budget on January 27 and Harper has said it will include a stimulus plan that could be worth as much as $30 billion.

"The underlying reality is that Canada enters this recession in a pretty strong position compared to most western industrialized countries," he told Maclean's.

"We're entering the recession later. All the indications are that it will not be as deep here and we should be able to come out of it sooner," he said.

Harper needs the support of at least one other political party to pass the budget. The official opposition Liberals -- angry at what they say is his mishandling of the crisis -- signed a deal with two other parties last month to bring down the government.

Harper escaped defeat by having Parliament suspended until late January and then promised the budget would include the type of major stimulus measures opposition parties were demanding.

The Liberals have since softened their attacks and few political observers think Harper will lose power over the budget. Harper -- who won a strengthened grip on power in an election last October -- said he did not want to go to the polls again.   Continued...

 
<p>Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to the media in Toronto, December 20, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>