"I have now spoken at your annual conference for seven years --- four times as Prime Minister and three times before that. This is highly unusual. I rarely speak to any organization two years in a row, let alone seven. I am a great admirer of the work you do both as an organization and as individuals. Your devotion to the principles of entrepreneurship and to the responsibilities of civic involvement are near and dear to my own philosophical heart."
--- Prime Minister Stephen Harper
The annual Conference for Advanced Life Underwriting (CALU) sessions bring Canada's eminent advisors to Ottawa each year. Why is the conference room locked this morning? For a security check using dogs. Twittering live @riscario, I speculated about an important guest.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed us for over 20 minutes. Four years ago, he had been PM for mere weeks and looked tired (but happy). This time, he looked rested and confident. He still joked:
I don't suppose this recession has made your jobs any easier. If it's any consolation, it hasn't made mine any easier either.
As you'd guess, the PM spoke about the economy. He used slides for the first time.
Canada was the last into this recession. Canada is the least affected of the major developed countries and when the recovery comes --- as it eventually and inevitably will --- this country, Canada, will come out of it in the strongest position.
Better Than The Rest
Every country in the G20 is running a deficit. Ours is relatively small and expected to stay that way. We ran a surplus until February. Canada has
- the best fiscal position in the G7
- the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7
- the soundest banking system in the world
(by market capitalization: 3rd largest in the world, 4 of the 10 largest banks in North America)
- low, stable inflation
- highly educated, skilled, mobile labour force
- diversified economic base
I felt good with these reminders. Our financial sector remains private.
Alone or in concert with other levels of government, we are moving planned capital investments from years ahead into the next two years. This stimulus spending must end when the recession ends. --- Prime Minister Harper
Other political parties might want to continue spending after the recession ends. Canadians can't decide ... and keep electing minority governments.
The Prime Minister faces many priorities. I'm delighted that he once again chose to spend time with CALU members, partners in helping you tame your financial risks.
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- Last year: The Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, the Governor of the Bank of Canada and Michael Ignatieff