Every G20 nation wants to be Canada, insists PM

Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:44pm EDT
 
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By David Ljunggren

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, appearing to forget that his countrymen are generally known for their modesty, declared on Friday that his nation was the envy of the world.

Harper, usually a fairly wooden performer, seized on a routine question at a news conference and used it to deliver an impassioned defense of his 33-million strong nation and how well it has coped with the global economic crisis.

"Canada remains in a very special place in the world. ... We are the one major developed country that no one thinks has any responsibility for this crisis," he said to laughter.

"In fact, on the contrary, they look at our policies as a solution to the crisis. We're the one country in the room everybody would like to be," he said at the end of the summit of the Group of 20 advanced and developing nations in Pittsburgh.

Canada, which was running a budget surplus before the recession and avoided major banking problems, has been less affected by the crisis than many of its partners.

Harper said the other G20 nations "would like to be an advanced developed economy with all the benefits that conveys to its citizens and at the same time not have been the source, or have any of the domestic problems, that created this crisis".

By this stage of his comments, the initial premise of the question had long since vanished and Harper -- who leads the right-leaning Conservative Party -- was focusing on several other factors that in his mind make Canada so irresistible.

"We're so self-effacing as Canadians that we sometimes forget the assets we do have that other people see," he said, speaking with a rare passion.   Continued...

 
<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses a news conference at the end of the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania September 25, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>