Stephen Harper unveils cabinet
By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper kept his veteran finance minister but added fresh faces in two key economic jobs in his new government, saying his priorities remained growth and shrinking the deficit.
Harper unveiled his new cabinet on Wednesday after the Conservatives won a comfortable majority in the May 2 general election with a campaign that stressed economic recovery.
"Canadians can count on this government to pursue measures that create jobs and growth, support seniors, protect our health-care system, fight against crime and reduce and eliminate the deficit," he said in a statement.
"Our low-tax plan for jobs and growth will strengthen the financial security of hard-working Canadians and help ensure Canada continues to be one of the top-performing advanced economies in the world."
Canada's first majority government since 2004 will now be able to take its focus off the risk of being brought down at any moment and focus more on long-term policy.
As expected, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty stayed in the job he has held since 2006, when the Conservatives took power. One of the most influential government members, he put together a multibillion-dollar stimulus package that the Conservatives say helped Canada avoid the worst of the recession.
The program helped push the budget deficit to a record C$55.6 billion ($57.3 billion) in the 2009-10 fiscal year. Latest figures suggest the 2010-11 deficit will be smaller than the C$40.5 billion, or 2.5 pct of gross domestic product, that the government forecast in March.
The government now promises to eliminate the deficit by 2014-15, a year earlier than originally planned, but only if it can curb federal spending. Continued...