G20 ministers to seek solutions for global slowdownFinance Minister Jim Flaherty will urge European countries to get their fiscal houses in order when arrives in Paris for a G20 meeting.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty heads to France Thursday to meet with his G20 counterparts and central bank governors to curb the eurozone's financial struggles and chart a roadmap back to economic stability.
While he urges European countries to get their fiscal houses in order, Flaherty also said he sympathizes with protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement who are searching for more equitable income distribution.
Flaherty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have been on a monthslong campaign urging European countries to resolve their sovereign debt and banking system issues, and to implement "clear and credible" debt and deficit-reduction plans.
Speaking to reporters Thursday before jetting to Paris for the G20 talks, Flaherty said the immediate concern for finance ministers and central bank governors is the deteriorating financial situation in Europe - including Greece potentially defaulting on its debt - and the general economic slowdown across the globe.
Canada will be looking for G20 members to develop a plan for sustainable, balanced economic growth over the mid term, he said.
"We have heard a lot of promises from eurozone countries, but actions to date have fallen short of what is needed," Flaherty said. "It is critical that Europe deliver on a comprehensive package of measures that will address their sovereign debt and banking issues."
Flaherty acknowledged the decisions facing eurozone countries are not easy, but he expects governments to make the difficult choices necessary.
"Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary actions," he added.
He said there's likely a need to increase the flexibility of the European Financial Stability Facility, a fund created as part of the overall $1.1-trillion European bailout package.
Finance ministers and central bankers will prepare an action plan for strong, sustainable growth that the leaders of G20 countries can debate when they meet in Cannes, France, in early November.
Asked for his thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street movement and associated spinoffs springing up across Canada, Flaherty said he recognizes income distribution is important and that a very small number of people have very large incomes.
There's mounting concern about a lack of opportunities for the younger generation - particularly in the United States - and it's incumbent upon governments to ensure youth are able to capitalize on their education and find good jobs, he said.
The prime minister, meanwhile, is also speaking out on the need for Europe and the G20 to deliver "immediate and decisive" action to contain what he says is an economic crisis that's threatening global growth.
In a column published in Thursday's Globe and Mail newspaper, Harper takes European nations and the group representing the world's major economies to task for not stemming a renewed threat to economic stability that he says began as a sovereign-debt crisis in small European countries.
"We cannot afford any more missed opportunities," Harper writes. "To be clear, the crisis could have been contained. Instead, it grew.
"The good news is that this crisis can still be contained and reversed."
Setting his sights next on the G20, Harper says the world body has an important role to play in righting the world's teetering financial ship. He urges members to follow through with the concrete debt-and deficitreduction plans they committed to at last year's summit in Toronto.
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