Harper cites economy, jobs as top priorities
Published Thursday, September 8, 2011 9:24PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 5:54AM EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday that his government's first priority when Parliament resumes later this month is to ensure the country's continued "economic recovery" amid international turmoil, including helping businesses create jobs.
In an address to his Conservative caucus on Parliament Hill, where Tories gathered to take stock of the summer and look ahead to the fall session, Harper also renewed his commitment to slaying the deficit, attract investment to Canada and forge new trade relationships in an effort to keep the country's economic engine humming.
Harper said despite the fact that 600,000 new jobs have been created since July 2009, the global economic picture remains uncertain, which means the government must protect Canadians' financial security.
"In managing the economy, circumstances demand that we listen carefully to Canadians, and that we be flexible when necessary. At the same time, as we have always done, we will work prudently and responsibly, acting on the clear and strong mandate that we received from Canadians," Harper said.
"Our first priority is to move our economic recovery forward, and ensure Canada's economy continues to create jobs."
Harper made his address at a Conservative caucus retreat, where MPs discussed a strategy for balancing the books while continuing to boost the economy, among other issues.
Harper hailed various job-creation measures, including a hiring credit for small businesses and a tax incentive for manufacturers, that he said will "encourage employment, now."
"We will work hard, we will do what we promised and we will continue to earn the trust of Canadians," Harper said. "And if we are faithful to these things, I believe our government's best days, and above all our country's best days, still lie ahead."
Responding to Harper's comments, NDP Interim Leader Nycole Turmel said the prime minister's job-creation plan is not sufficient to help families that reach the end of their money before the end of the month.
Turmel told reporters that the prime minister should look to U.S. President Barack Obama's jobs plan, which calls for measures similar to those proposed by the NDP: tax credits for new hires, investment in clean-energy infrastructure, and job training.
"New Democrats will continue to propose ideas that put Canadians families first, and push for real action to ensure families aren't being left behind in this economy," Turmel said.
"The question we have for Stephen Harper and his Conservative caucus is: will they keep sitting back waiting around for the U.S. economy to rebound?"
Obama unveiled the specific details of his job-creation plan in an address to Congress Thursday evening.
His American Jobs Act calls for measures such as unemployment insurance reform, payroll tax cuts and funding for infrastructure projects and public schools. The legislation's tab is an estimated US$450 billion.
On CTV's Power Play Thursday evening, Turmel said her party is not advocating that the government pump further stimulus cash into the economy. She said cancelling tax breaks for large corporations will put between $3 billion and $4 billion into government coffers, more than enough to help businesses create jobs, she said.
"We believe that this government doesn't agree that there will be a new recession," Turmel told Power Play. "They said it in 2008, they were wrong. We believe they might be wrong this time. They should be proactive, instead of waiting."