Canada's first ministers to rally as economy stumbles
Published Tuesday, October 28, 2008 8:43PM EDT
OTTAWA - Canada's first ministers will meet in less than two weeks to talk about the economy amid the global financial crisis.
With several governments bracing for revenue shortfalls and in some cases budget deficits, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he will play host to his provincial and territorial counterparts in Ottawa on Nov.10.
The economy has been foremost on the federal agenda lately as the government continues to face calls from the financial and manufacturing industries for immediate help in acquiring credit.
Industry Minister Jim Prentice suggested Tuesday the troubled auto parts sector could obtain the estimated $1 billion in short-term loans it needs to keep afloat.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is scheduled to speak to the Canadian Club of Toronto and the Empire Club of Canada about the current state of the economy.
Flaherty last week guaranteed more than $200 billion in commercial debt for Canadian banks to ensure they remain competitive with international credit markets.
Earlier this month, Flaherty also announced a plan to buy up to $25 billion worth of mortgages, securing them through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. in order to free up cash that the banks can lend to consumers.
The first ministers will sit down just days before Harper heads to Washington where the Group of 20 world leaders are to discuss the global economic crisis.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall warned Tuesday the provinces won't stand for any effort to offload Ottawa's financial problems onto them.
"I think we've seen the folly of federal budgets being balanced on the backs of provincial transfer payments in the past," said Wall.
"It's a concern . . . we want to be proactive."
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell struck a conciliatory note, saying "this is a time of all times that Canada act as one country -- not as 10 provinces and one federal government, but as one country that is working together to make sure that people get through this."
He expressed hope the first ministers can agree to speed infrastructure spending, enhance public-private partnerships and work toward lowering interprovincial trade barriers.