Created on Saturday, 26 January 2008 23:33
Prepare for hard economic times: Harper
by CBC News
anadians cannot afford to be complacent about the economy because recent problems in the financial markets won't be disappearing any time soon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told members of his caucus on Friday.
Harper, speaking in Ottawa on the second anniversary of his election, said that even though the Canadian economy is still strong, jobs are threatened in traditional industries and Canadian families are coping with budget strains.
"Recent volatility in financial markets, emanating mostly from the U.S., may be with us for some time to come," Harper said.
- "We are aware of these challenges. We have acted and we will
continue to act for regions and sectors that are in difficulty, like
manufacturing, forestry, fishing and tourism. We will also continue to
take measures to strengthen agriculture."
what sounded at times like a campaign speech, hinted that a federal
election may be coming, but that he and his party will continue to
focus on their jobs as leaders.
As his party members cheered and
waved banners bearing his name, Harper listed off the accomplishments
he said his party has achieved since the Conservatives ousted the
Liberals from power in the Jan. 23, 2006, federal election.
noted that his government has stiffened Canada's crime laws and
introduced a child care benefit payment to help families with children
under age six.
He said the economy has been strong under his
watch â€” unemployment is at its lowest level over three decades, income
tax and the GST have been reduced, billions of dollars of Canada's debt
have been paid off and inflation and interest rates remain low, while
the average income of households is rising.
Harper suggested that he and his fellow Conservatives are the right people to guide Canada through turbulent economic times.
times of economic uncertainty, what Canadians need most is strong,
steady, certain leadership that's on their side," he said. "It's what
Canada deserves, it's what Canadians demand."
No mention of Afghan detainees
Harper did not address the issue of Afghan detainees, which has been a controversial topic this past week.
a Federal Court hearing on Thursday, Brig.-Gen. AndrÃ© Deschamps
confirmed that Canadian troops stopped handing over detainees to Afghan
authorities in November after a prison visit found evidence of torture.
disclosure prompted accusations of a coverup from opposition parties,
but the government has denied the allegations, saying it was up to the
Canadian army to disclose matters related to military operations.
Manley report is 'strong, balanced and realistic'
did touch on the Manley report on the mission in Afghanistan in his
speech, calling it a "good one, strong, balanced and realistic."
report, prepared by former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley,
recommended that Canada's military remain in Afghanistan beyond the
current February 2009 timeline, provided Canadian forces are backed by
an additional contingent of 1,000 NATO soldiers and provided with new,
medium-lift helicopters and high-performance unmanned aerial vehicles
for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
commissioned the report, did not say whether he will adopt its
recommendations. He did say he doesn't take any decisions about the
Afghan mission and the current troop withdrawal date of February 2009
- "On a matter of national and global security like this,
we will never make a decision based on polls," he said. "We will make a
decision based on what is right for this country."