Greek elections causing global worry, Flaherty says
France warns Greece could be pushed out of eurozone
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says there are worries among officials of the world’s leading 20 economies about whether the outcome of the Greek election on Sunday could weigh on financial markets.
Flaherty told reporters in Ottawa Wednesday he’s been speaking with his counterparts among the G20, and they’re concerned.
The worry is that Greece will abandon the conditions tied to its international bailout, a promise made by the radical left Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras.
"It could result in a disruptive moment if the Greek election were to result in a disassociation of Greece from the pact that our European colleagues have developed with respect to austerity," Flaherty said.
"We’ll deal with it as it comes."
Also Wednesday, French President François Hollande warned Greeks that if they vote to move away from the bailout commitments, they could be pushed out of the eurozone.
"I respect the Greek people. They will decide what they want on the occasion of the election," Hollande told the private Mega television station in an interview aired Wednesday.
"But I must warn them, because it is my duty, because I am a friend of Greece, that if the impression is given that the Greeks want to move away from the commitments that were taken and abandon all prospects of revival, then there will be countries in the eurozone that will want to end the presence of Greece in the eurozone."
Flaherty wants G20 to focus on banks, containment
Flaherty said measures to stem Europe’s debt crisis should be the focus of the upcoming G20 summit, to begin the day after the election in Los Cabos, Mexico.
He wants the leaders to concentrate on reaching agreement on measures to shore up bank balance sheets and to contain contagion from the economies worst hit by the crisis.
"Obviously countries have to get their financial houses in order, otherwise we'll be back in the soup that we're in now," he told reporters in Ottawa. Flaherty said the actions are necessary to rebuild investor confidence.
With regard to the domestic economy, Flaherty congratulated Canadians for heeding policymakers' advice to get their debt loads under control.
"Canadians have been responsible," he said. "They've been reducing their credit card debt which is a good idea and, you know, we're in better shape now than we were a little while ago."
He also said the government maintains a keen eye on Canada's housing market. "We've taken steps to tighten the mortgage insurance market and if we have to do more, we’ll do more," he said.
With files from The Associated Press