Harper congratulates Obama, urges action to avoid fiscal cliff
Published Thursday, November 8, 2012 10:44AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 8, 2012 1:44PM EST
Prime Minister Stephen Harper called U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday to congratulate him on his successful re-election campaign, but also urged him to address the U.S. fiscal cliff.
Harper spoke to Obama from India, where he is wrapping up a six-day trade mission during which he announced plans to open a new Canadian consulate in Bangalore.
According to a note from Andrew MacDougall, the prime minister's director of communications, Harper "extended his sincere congratulations to the President on his victory and wished him well on his second term.
"During their conversation, Prime Minister Harper and President Obama underlined the deep friendship that exists between Canada and the U.S. -- a relationship underpinned by the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world as well as close collaboration internationally on peace and security," read the note.
The conversation wasn't all congratulatory, however. Harper also used the conversation as an opportunity to touch on grim financial issues, mentioning to Obama "the importance of the White House and Congress working together to tackle the U.S. fiscal situation."
Earlier Thursday, Harper went into more detail about the need for Congressional Republicans and Democrats to work together to find a way to avoid the rapidly approaching fiscal cliff and the economic devastation it is expected to trigger.
"Obviously (this) would be immensely helped if the Americans could deal with this immediate issue and the Europeans could accelerate progress on their debt issues," Harper said Thursday at the opening of a Canadian-managed Imax theatre in Bangalore, India.
The fiscal cliff is the terminology used to describe scheduled tax increases, and cuts to federal financial support programs which are set to kick in on Dec. 31 if Congress can't agree on a plan to move forward.
A committee has been working on reaching a deal for nearly two years with little progress. However, there is renewed hope that with the presidential election now over, U.S. lawmakers will be able to put partisanship aside and work out an agreement.
Regardless of what happens south of the border, Harper said his government has back-up plans in the event the American economy goes sour again, and the European situation becomes more dire.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty made similar remarks. He warned that the U.S. would quickly slip into a recession if the fiscal cliff is not averted, and would likely drag Canada down with it.
However, if that happens he said he will step in to stimulate the Canadian economy, similar to what Ottawa did in 2008 in response to the recession.