Ottawa focuses on stimulus for now

Wed Mar 3, 2010 4:49pm EST
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By Louise Egan and Pav Jordan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Conservative government said on Wednesday it planned to focus on stimulus spending, jobs and economic growth this year, while promising to also cut a record budget deficit.

In a speech outlining the priorities for 2010, Ottawa said it would make it easier for Canadians and foreigners to do business by streamlining regulations, allowing more foreign investment in key sectors like telecommunications and uranium mining and keeping taxes low.

Opposition parties said the speech fell short of expectations but the main opposition Liberals said they would wait for the budget on Thursday before making a final judgment.

Precise details of what the government is planning will be unveiled in the federal budget. The government last year unveiled a two-year C$46 billion ($44.7 billion) stimulus package to offset the worst of the recession.

Ottawa said the top priority would be to implement the second-year of the plan.

"Even as confidence returns to our economy, it would be a mistake to declare that the recession is completely behind us," it said in the so-called Speech from the Throne.

"Too many Canadians still find themselves out of work and events beyond our borders could yet threaten a fragile recovery."

The minority Conservative government needs the backing of at least one opposition party to pass the budget. All three opposition parties said the speech failed to address their concerns about jobs, the environment or long-term pension funding.   Continued...