OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada favors an open competition to fill the job of managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Wednesday.
Both Flaherty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper declined to say whether Dominique Strauss-Kahn should immediately quit as IMF chief following his arrest on charges he sexually assaulted a hotel maid in New York.
“We’ve always taken the position that there should be an open competition when there’s a vacancy,” Flaherty told reporters in Ottawa.
Flaherty expressed confidence that John Lipsky, No. 2 at the International Monetary Fund, could handle the euro zone debt problems expeditiously. He said Canada was discussing the European situation with its partners in the Group of Seven advanced economies and in Europe.
Harper declined to comment on the specific accusations facing Strauss-Kahn but conceded that the situation was “obviously very difficult”.
“We are discussing with our partners at the IMF what the appropriate steps are under these circumstances,” Harper said at a news conference after his new Conservative government’s cabinet was sworn in.
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney has been touted in local media as a potential candidate for the top IMF job. However, the role has traditionally been filled by a European while an American heads the sister organization, the World Bank.
Globally, some countries are calling for an official from an emerging economy to take over the IMF as countries such as China, India and Brazil gain more clout in the global economy and its institutions.
Advocates of Carney suggest a Canadian would be seen as neutral leader able to build bridges between competing regional interests.
When asked if Carney would be a good candidate, Harper said Carney was doing a “wonderful job”.
The central bank has not commented explicitly on the idea, even though Carney is less than halfway through his seven-year term at the bank.
Earlier this week, Carney repeated the view that the IMF chief should be selected on the basis of merit rather than nationality.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Peter Galloway