By Leah Schnurr
TORONTO Jan 14 Canada's manufacturing sector is
happy about the weakening of the country's currency, which
presents "remarkable opportunities," the government's junior
finance minister said on Tuesday, suggesting Ottawa is not upset
by the slide.
"I think ... the manufacturing sector (is) quite pleased
that we have a dollar that the value is down from what it was a
number of months ago," Kevin Sorenson, secretary of state for
finance, told reporters after giving a speech in Toronto.
His comments were similar to those made earlier this month
by the finance and industry ministers, suggesting the
Conservative government is not overly worried by the Canadian
dollar's recent steep fall.
The Canadian dollar lost ground every day last week
and touched a more than four-year low against the greenback on
Friday after news of heavy job losses in December. It closed
slightly higher on Monday at C$1.0846 to the greenback, or 92.20
A strong currency in the years following the global
financial crisis has often been cited as a problem for the
country's export sector, which does business primarily with the
"I would say that with the dollar being low there is
remarkable opportunity," Sorenson said. "We're an exporting
country and as you know by far the majority of everything we
manufacture here and everything we grow here we export and so
Canadian authorities do not intervene in the foreign
exchange market except in extreme circumstances in which
volatility is believed to be destabilizing the financial system.
"Really, where the dollar is positioned, for us will mean
very little. It will more be how can we keep taxes low, how can
we continue to support this economy," Sorenson said.
Asked on Friday about recent volatility in the currency,
Industry Minister James Moore said the Canadian dollar has been
trading within a steady range.
In an interview on Jan. 5, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
said that with the Canadian dollar trading near current levels
"it's good for manufacturing and we can still travel
In his speech, Sorenson, looking ahead to a federal budget
that is expected to be presented in early February, said the
government remains committed to introducing legislation
requiring balanced budgets.
Only after the deficit is eliminated will it consider more
tax cuts and other initiatives, he said.
"We have stated that we will come back to balanced budget
legislation. ... that unless extraordinary measures come upon us
like the downturn that we've seen in the past, that governments
will operate within balanced budget legislation," he later told
It was not clear whether the measures would be in the
The promise of legislation requiring governments to run a
surplus except in times of economic crisis was first made in a
major policy speech on Oct. 16, along with a vow to freeze
Canada is one of a handful of countries with a prized
triple-A credit rating from leading agencies, and barring any
major economic upsets the government looks set to make good on a
promise to eliminate its small budget deficit before the next
election in 2015.
The Conservatives ran up big deficits following the global
financial crisis, amounting to 3.6 percent of gross domestic
product in 2009-10.
The gap is currently at about 1 percent of GDP, but Sorenson
warned that "an uncertain and fragile global economy" could
still derail Ottawa's plans.
Sorenson said Ottawa would freeze government operating
spending for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 fiscal years and review the
government's corporate assets for items it could potentially
Once the government is back in the black, he said it would
consider further tax cuts, although he did not give details.
"That includes looking at further tax relief and new ways to
provide support to businesses like yours, following the return
to a balanced budget," he said.