OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is feeling pretty smug these days. First it beat the United States in Olympic hockey and now it has won the fight over a global bank tax.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner jokingly sounded like a sore loser on Friday after a meeting of G20 finance chiefs in Washington in which Canada’s fierce opposition to a proposed levy on banks was reflected in the final communique.
“All things are swinging Canada’s way,” Geithner quipped, interrupting a reporter who was asking if opinion was shifting in favor of Canada’s position on the issue.
“They won the medal in the Olympics, the hockey medal. That is a good sign for Canada. You should finish your sentence,” he said, smiling.
Hockey-crazed Canadians are still basking in the glow of their victory over the United States in February, when they took the gold medal and relegated their giant neighbor to second place.
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty took on his European and U.S. counterparts by slamming their proposal to tax banks to ensure that financial firms, not taxpayers, pay for future financial crises.
Canadian banks did not need bailouts during the crisis and so should not be punished with a new tax, he argues.
Prior to the G20 meeting, Flaherty stood alone in resisting the proposal. But he said he persuaded some of his colleagues to support him.
The final statement made no endorsement of a bank tax, saying instead that any measures should take into account countries’ different needs.
Geithner said the United States would go ahead and impose a levy on its banks even without global coordination.
“The U.S. is going to move,” he said. “I suspect you’ll find other countries moving to adopt similar measures.”
Editing by John O'Callaghan