It's the economy, Canadian business leader says
Party leaders not grappling with crisis, chamber president says
Canadian politicians appear to be in denial about the financial crisis, the head of a national business group says.
The party leaders don't seem to recognize that there is a crisis, said Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
"It's clear that something profound is happening, yet the politicians up to now have wanted to talk about everything else," he said.
The politicians are living in one universe, while media reports of the international financial crisis paint a different picture, he said.
"Ordinary Canadians, people who are middle aged today, planning for retirement, have seen much of their retirement savings evaporating this week in the stock exchange," Beatty said.
But campaigning Saturday, the leaders did talk about the economy.
Asked why he is not proposing steps like the initiatives taken in other jurisdictions, Conservative Stephen Harper told a meeting in Yarmouth, N.S., that the Canadian economy and banking system are in much better shape than those in the U.S. or Europe.
He repeated the Tory position that the government has cut taxes, maintained a balanced budget and is focusing on job creation.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, in Dieppe, N.B., accused Harper of doing nothing. "We are facing enormous economic challenges," he said, and "Harper is in his bubble."
Dion has proposed calling a meeting of regulators and financial experts to consider the economy within 30 days of taking office, and also said a Liberal government would accelerate investments in infrastructure and manufacturing.
Harper said "that is just panic" and the opposition would raise taxes and put the government into a deficit. Dion's ideas "will take us into a recession, not around one," he said.
More than 500 delegates from the Chamber of Commerce were meeting in Quebec City on Saturday, where each party was expected to pitch its financial plan.