Canada concerned Greece crisis could hurt others

Wed May 5, 2010 12:30pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Greece's debt crisis is not a direct threat to Canada, where the fiscal situation remains strong, but it could hurt other countries and banks, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Wednesday.

"In terms of the Canadian fiscal situation, we are solid ... so it's not a direct threat to us," he told reporters.

Toronto's main stock index tumbled to a nine-week low on Wednesday on investor fears that the Greek debt crisis would spread to other euro zone countries. The Canadian dollar also sank on increased risk aversion, hitting its lowest level against the U.S. dollar in five weeks.

Flaherty, who issued a joint statement with some of his G20 counterparts earlier this week, aiming to calm markets about the Greek situation, said he had been on the phone on Wednesday discussing the Greek situation, and expected more calls later in the day. He did not say who he had spoken to.

"The concern is the fiscal situation in some countries like Greece and the damage that can cause to other countries and to banks," he said.

Flaherty added that Canada's trade negotiations with the European Union would not be affected by the sovereign debt problems plaguing the EU.

($1=$1.03 Canadian)

(Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Rob Wilson)