January 28, 2009 / 1:40 PM / 11 years ago

Canada fin min says open to opposition suggestions

TORONTO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Wednesday he would be open to looking at opposition parties’ suggestions for improving the federal budget, as long as they did not change the focus of it.

Flaherty was speaking on CBC’s broadcast, News: Morning, just hours before the main opposition Liberal Party was due to announce its decision on whether or not to support the budget, which includes a 2-year C$40 billion ($32.8 billion) economic stimulus package.

“This isn’t about partisanship... if there are useful suggestions from opposition parties, of course, we will look at them, that’s normal in a time of serious economic recession,” he told CBC.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority Conservative government will need the support of at least one of the three opposition parties to remain in power.

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported the Liberals are likely to demand changes to the budget presented on Tuesday, in return for their support. The two other opposition parties, the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois, immediately rejected the plan after it was introduced.

Flaherty said he expected to see signs in six months to one year on how the government plan was working and reiterated that the government would do whatever is necessary to protect Canadians from global recession.

Budget deficits — almost a taboo in Canada — will total C$85 billion over five years, the government estimated.

Canada has not run a deficit in more than a decade. The government predicts the plan will boost the economy by 1.4 percent this year and create 190,000 jobs by 2011.

Flaherty said he expects the country to emerge from deficit in four to five years. ($1=$1.22 Canadian) (Reporting by John McCrank, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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