Friday, May 30, 2003

Canadian PM on U.S. deficit, Bush, and Canada

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien criticized the massive deficits being posted by the "right-wing" Bush administration in the United States yesterday, while boasting of his own government's economic management.

He bragged about Canada's economic performance under his Liberal government, and noted that he has been asked by leaders of the Group of Eight to report on the state of the world's economy at their summit next week in Évian, France.

"Why? It is because we seem to have a good recipe," he said.

"I'm a Canadian Liberal; he is a southern conservative," Mr. Chrétien said, adding that he is pro-choice on abortion, while Mr. Bush is not; he supports gun control, while Mr. Bush does not, and he opposes capital punishment, which Mr. Bush supports.

He said Canada is now the envy of the world, with a strong economy, political stability, and a diverse and tolerant population. He chided Canadians — and the media in particular — for failing to celebrate the country's successes.

The Prime Minister said Canada is the only country among the G8 industrialized nations to have put its public pension system on a sound financial footing.

He also said European leaders are envious of Canada's ability to absorb roughly 200,000 immigrants a year without the kind of political backlash that is roiling their countries. Italy, for example, expects to see its population decline from 60 million people to 40 million in a few decades, he said, but has trouble winning public support for higher immigration levels.

"How can you run a country with social programs when you have a population that is decreasing?" he said.

He added that his "failure" was that he was unable to achieve the target immigration level of 1 per cent of the Canadian population, or more than 300,000 new arrivals a year.

"For them, the question is how to accept a few."

No wonder my brother and sister-in-law want to move to Canada.

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