Flaherty gets "pushy" over budget bill

Tue Mar 10, 2009 11:45am EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, in an unusually belligerent mood, blasted members of the Senate on Tuesday for not passing the government's stimulus-laden budget legislation quickly, and warned that the economy would continue to worsen in 2009.

"Canada entered the recession in a relatively strong position but we are facing a very difficult year in 2009," he told the upper chamber's finance committee.

"We will see our domestic economy deteriorate, it is deteriorating as we sit here ... we can expect imports and exports to fall, industry sectors to weaken."

Flaherty said the next set of jobless figures -- due out on Friday -- "are not likely to be good" and said the situation called for extraordinary measures.

The key jobs report follows data released last week that showed the economy shrank sharply during the fourth quarter of 2008. Another contraction during the first quarter of 2009 is considered almost a certainty.

The minority Conservative government introduced a budget in late January that will rack up a total of C$64 billion ($50 billion) in deficits over the next two fiscal years.

The bill passed through the House of Commons relatively quickly and must now be approved by the unelected Senate, which is dominated by opposition Liberals.

Flaherty, usually one of the most jovial government ministers, angrily accused senators of deliberately dawdling and urged them to work through a scheduled parliamentary vacation next week to pass the bill.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty waits to testify before the Senate finance committee in Ottawa March 10, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>