June 30, 2008 / 1:33 AM / 9 years ago

Flaherty optimistic on economy

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s economy remains well shielded from the slowdown in the United States, as tax cuts offer stimulus, and the job market and consumer confidence stay strong, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Sunday.

<p>Finance Minister Jim Flaherty gestures during a speech at the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal, June 9, 2008. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>

“Canada is not an island, of course. We’re affected by the recession, particularly in the U.S. housing market, but our fundamentals remain strong,” Flaherty told CTV Television.

He added: “We’re not in the same situation as the Americans are with their housing bubble that burst.”

Commenting on a report last week that said Canadian banks should be free to merge, Flaherty repeated that the issue -- deeply unpopular with many Canadian consumers -- was not a priority for the minority Conservative government.

He said the government would study the recommendations closely, but declined to say if any action was likely.

The Conservatives need support from at least one other party to stay in power. Under these circumstances it could be hard for them to push through any changes to policy on banking, or foreign investment, which were among the areas discussed in the report.

Reporting by Janet Guttsman; Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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