Outspoken Canada still worried about Europe
OTTAWA, June 30 — One of the harshest critics of Europe's handling of the debt crisis, Canada's finance minister, sounded less prickly yesterday as he applauded the "significant strides" taken at an EU summit, but still warned about possible disappointments ahead.
"I always worry about agreements reached in the middle of the night, and the reaction of the markets which tends to be immediate," Flaherty told reporters on a conference call from Ireland.
"We've seen markets react positively before and then back off."
Flaherty, a hard-hitting Conservative partisan known at home for his sharp tongue and quick wit, has frequently irked his European counterparts with blunt criticism of what he perceives as inaction or only "incremental" steps to resolve the sovereign debt crisis.
Canada has refused to contribute to an International Monetary Fund package to deal with fallout from the crisis, arguing the Europeans are too rich to qualify for any such help, a stance the German Ambassador to Canada recently called "somewhat irritating".
But Flaherty appears to have softened his tone a little following the two-day EU summit that ended on Friday.
"The summit's outcome is consistent with what we have been saying for about three years. We do look forward to their speedy implementation ... of the steps that have been agreed to," he said.
He said he was particularly encouraged by the European leaders' commitment to allow the region's rescue fund to inject aid directly into stricken banks, and by "some sense of scheduling" for carrying out various initiatives.
But Flaherty won't completely let down his guard any time soon.
"This is encouraging but some of this is still kicking the can down the road," he said. "I always worry that there will be some backing off from what are the apparent commitments so far. — Reuters