Ottawa must keep cap on ’reckless’ spending over next year: finance minister

Finance Minister Joe Oliver says he plans to resist pressures to stimulate the economy with federal money as Ottawa remains focused on bringing in a balanced budget next year.

HALIFAX — Finance Minister Joe Oliver says he plans to resist pressures to stimulate the economy with federal money as Ottawa remains focused on bringing in a balanced budget next year.

Oliver acknowledged in a speech to a Halifax business audience Tuesday that unemployment and weak export prices remain a problem in Canada, but he says the federal government won’t be opening its wallet.

“Our government will not engage in reckless new spending schemes that would lead to increased taxes or higher debt or both,” Oliver said.

“We worked too hard to return to a balanced budget to throw it all away. We will not go down that well-trod path to economic decline.”

The International Monetary Fund dropped Canada down in its growth forecasts earlier this year, predicting the U.S. will experience the strongest economic growth among the G7 countries this year.

The IMF held to its prediction of a 2.2 per cent expansion for Canada, as the United Kingdom jumped into second spot behind the U.S.

Oliver took over the finance portfolio after Jim Flaherty’s resignation last month.

He said in his speech that he recognizes employment remains a concern for many Canadians. But Oliver said Ottawa’s key response will be to keep taxes low and create a strong business climate.

Oliver also said the Canada-Europe trade agreement will eliminate tariffs in key sectors for East Coast industries and create new opportunities for seafood, agricultural and forestry companies.

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