OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s prime minister said on Tuesday he saw no immediate economic impact on Canada from the Japanese disaster, but warned that it was a reminder of how little it would take to derail the global economic recovery.
In a jibe to his political opponents, who could seek to bring down the minority Conservative government in Parliament as early as next week, Harper said that in the current economic climate an election would be “opportunistic and unnecessary”.
“I don’t think there will be immediate economic impacts on us. Obviously, though, you see the drops in the stock market,” he told reporters in a televised news conference.
“All of these things should remind everybody in Canada and should remind all the parties in Parliament that the global economy remains extremely fragile,” Harper said.
Japan raced on Tuesday to avert a catastrophe after an explosion at a nuclear power plant, crippled by the massive earthquake, sent radiation toward Tokyo.
“It does not take very much to make us all .... all around the world, to make everybody very worried about what’s coming next in the economy,” Harper said.
The Conservatives have a minority of seats in the House of Commons and therefore need the support of at least one of the three opposition parties to pass key legislation and stay in power.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is scheduled to present the government’s budget to Parliament on March 22. The opposition Liberal Party and Bloc Quebecois have made it clear they won’t support the budget, leaving the fate of the government in the hands of the smaller New Democratic Party (NDP).
NDP leader Jack Layton is demanding help for poor seniors, improvements to the government pension plan, more doctors and cheaper heating fuel. On Tuesday, Layton said in a radio interview he would vote for the budget it if provided help for those who need it, but that he had not yet received assurances that Harper would bow to his demands.
Harper sidestepped a question on what measures he was prepared to put in the budget to satisfy the opposition.
“There will be more than enough reasons in the budget for anyone whose focus is on growth and jobs for Canadians to support the budget,” he said.
Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Peter Galloway