Canadian PM stands by optimistic economic outlook
Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Wednesday remained optimistic about Canada's economic prospects, after some economists warned the country may not come out of recession as quickly as Harper has predicted.
Speaking to reporters in Toronto on Wednesday, Harper reiterated his position that Canada was the last country to enter the global recession and would be one of the first to emerge from the crisis, Xinhua reported.
"This country has a strong, long-term balance sheet," Harper said. "We will return to surplus when there is a recovery -- no other country is in that position. We have the best fiscal position."
Harper pointed to Canada's "low and stable inflation" rates, strong banking system, diverse economy and skilled labor force as indicators that his economic outlook is not unrealistic.
"It's not rosy or unrealistic. It is very realistic," Harper said. "But it is not negative and pessimistic and without hope and without policy."
Harper's remarks came after former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge said Harper's prediction that Canada will be posting budget surpluses again in 2013 as "totally unrealistic."
Dodge told national newspaper "The Globe and Mail" that recovery "is not going to be as quick as everybody thinks," as the global economy will remain mired in a long and deep recession and Canada relies heavily on demands from outside the country.
Dodge also predicted that unemployment would rise above 10 percent and several Canadian industries would experience permanent contraction, including the auto and newsprint sectors.
Finance critic of opposition Liberal Party John McCallum on Wednesday called Harper's comments "entirely out of touch with the reality of this crisis that Canada is currently facing," noting the International Monetary Fund also has warned that Canada's economy will get even worse before it gets better.
Current Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, who has forecasted a quick recovery for the nation's economy in 2010 by 3.8 percent, has said he will revise those predictions in his April Monetary Policy Report.