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  • Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that the economy is the highest priority of his government. Harper made this point in response to a question from the Philippine Asian News Today in a January 7 press conference with media representatives. The Prime Minister also responded to the PNT question of how much the economy is going to factor in this year’s national election by saying: “All voters will make their own choices on their own priorities but I believe that the economy will be the biggest concern for most voters, as it should be. Just as it is the highest priority of our government. “

    “As I said at the outset, we live in a time where the world is full of economic risk and uncertainty and where we have to keep focused on the economy if we are going to maintain and grow our standard of living, “ Harper also said.

    Continuing with his reply, the Prime Minister said: “This country has emerged from the worst global recession since the 1930’s in an unprecedentedly strong position. Our belief is that we need to keep on track to stay there. Track means balancing our budgets while keeping people’s taxes down and keeping our debts down. That’s what this government is committed to.”

    Harper added: “We have the job creation record to show for those policies: 1.2 million net new jobs. Net new jobs. 1.2 million more people working today than at the worst of the recession. There’s very few countries have a record anywhere close to that so our choice is to stay on that track or a choice is the other guys who promise that they will spend any amount of money necessary to get your votes and they will raise any number of taxes and incur any amount of debt to do that. “

    The Prime Minister noted: “We know we can look at Europe, we can look around the world and see the disaster that has caused elsewhere and that would cause the same disaster here so our belief if that people should focus on the economy, focus on the good record of the government, and make sure that we keep this country moving in the right direction.”
    Joining Harper in the event were MPs Nina Grewal and Alice Wong, and Senator Yonah Kim Martin.

    In his opening remarks before taking questions from the media, Harper reiterated that the global economy remains “very challenging, that is full of uncertainties”.

    “We’ve seen some of the movement in oil, energy, and commodity prices in recent weeks. It’s just an indication of the kind of economic and political instability that still exists around the world,” the Prime Minister said.

    Harper said: “That, notwithstanding our own challenges which remain significant, the Canadian economy and Canada as a country continue to do comparatively very well. In fact, I think I can say with a great deal of certainty that when I sit around the international table at the G-20 or many of these other fora and you were to ask the leaders which country, which economy around this table is the most politically and economically stable of any, I think there would be virtually unanimous agreement it is this country. “ He added: “So we have lots to be thankful for, but we do have challenges ahead of us. As you know, we intend to navigate those challenges through sticking to our fundamental objectives in the year to come.

    We will balance our budget at the federal level. We will do that while continuing to lower taxes – we’ll talk about some of the things we’ve been doing lately – and continuing to make sure vital services like health care, education, the big transfers we make to the provinces, that those things continue to grow.

    “Obviously we’re tackling challenges in the immigration and labour market system that I know are of concern to your readers and listeners and viewers and I think we’ve made considerable progress on that front. I think we are gradually getting an immigration system that is more responsive to the needs of Canada and also to the needs of applicants.

    “One of the big achievements by this government over the past couple of years has been the diversification of our trade, new trade agreements with the European Union, obviously more recently with the Republic of Korea, and ongoing negotiations, the FIPPA with China. We’re connecting this economy better than it’s ever been connected to the growing global economy, something that I know is also of interest to your audiences.

    Harper also said: “We will continue to be focused as well on other issues. Obviously on taking important stands on important international issues and tackling crime here at home. Tackling crime here at home as we’ve continued to do since we came to office but also an extension of that, unfortunately a more serious extension, is tackling terrorism both at home and around the world.”

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