September 17, 2009 / 11:03 PM / in 8 years

Canada says not swimming naked, emerging stronger

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The global recession showed Canada was not swimming naked, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday, arguing that the country entered and is exiting the financial crisis stronger than other countries.

<p>Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper comments on his visit to Capitol Hill in Washington, September 17, 2009. REUTERS/Jim Young</p>

“To paraphrase Warren Buffett, as the tide went out, the crisis exposed those who had been swimming naked. And it turns out that Canada was not only no skinny dipper, she was also the strongest swimmer,” Harper told a business audience.

He also said he would tell next week’s Group of 20 (G20) summit that while a global recovery was under way, it was fragile and stimulus needed to be maintained for now.

“We must...continue implementing stimulus measures until we see a much stronger rebound in private investment,” said Harper, on his return to Canada from a White House visit.

“But at the same time, there must be plans put in place to exit from high levels of government deficits and debt so that capital investment in the private sector is not eventually crowded out.”

He said it was important for the G20 to continue its efforts to fix the financial sector, adding that toxic assets still had to be purged from the international system.

“None of us is fully through it (the recession) yet. But the light is there at the end of the tunnel if we are clear on the way forward and stay the course,” he said in the prepared text of his remarks.

“This was the message I brought to Washington this week and this will be the message Canada brings to the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh next week.”

Buttressing his argument that Canada had not been swimming naked, Harper said his country had not had to bail out any banks and that three of the top ten banks in North America were now Canadian. Unemployment was now a percentage point lower than in the United States.

And he said that though the country was running a budget deficit, it had entered the recession in surplus and the deficit was one of the smallest in the developed world, with plans to reduce it.

Touting Canada as an emerging energy superpower, he noted how dependent the United States was on its energy, with Canada supplying it more oil, gas and uranium than any other country.

“We are also the only American energy supplier that is growing, stable and market-oriented,” he said.

Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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