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Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae speaks to the media in Ottawa, Wednesday May 25, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae speaks to the media in Ottawa, Wednesday May 25, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Ottawa Notebook

Rae to Ottawa: keep cuts to a minimum, invest in infrastructure Add to ...

Canada’s government should keep spending on infrastructure and keep public servants on the payroll instead of cutting back, according to interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae.

“Obviously the events of the last week have been extremely troubling,” Mr. Rae said Friday, at a press conference outside Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. “We are in a world economy that is changing and is in a difficult state... we need to focus on investment, we need to focus on infrastructure.”

Thursday was the worst one-day fall in global equities in two years, indicating investors’ nerves seem to have mounted. The Toronto stock index plunged 3.4 per cent and the Dow Jones average fell 4.3 per cent.

Mr. Rae said economic waves created by problems in the U.S. and Europe can be minimized in Canada if Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government don’t focus completely on austerity measures.

The government must refrain from job cuts, Mr. Rae said, citing cuts looming at Environment Canada. In June, the Globe reported 687 Public Works jobs were to be affected over three years so the government could cut $172.2-million from the budget. The cuts included a team of auditors from Audit Services Canada. Other cuts were planned for the Treasury Board of Canada, Bank of Canada, Environment Canada, the National Gallery of Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“I think we need to look at jobs as really the basic thermometer of the economy and has a lot to say about how we’re doing,” Mr. Rae said. “We’ve had no growth in Canada for the last couple of months... [there’s]a lot of unemployment in parts of the country that were hard hit by the recession.”

The economy created just 7,100 jobs in July, Statistics Canada said Friday, and the jobless rate slipped to 7.2 per cent, the lowest since late 2008 and down from 7.4 per cent a month earlier.

As well, Mr. Rae said the NDP’s interim Leader Nycole Turmel has contradicted herself more than once this week after her former ties to the Bloc Québécois.

“This is not about switching parties, a subject I know a little bit about myself,” he said. “In the case of Ms. Turmel, we have somebody who did not reveal to the public... the fact that she was simultaneously, apparently, a member of three political parties over the last five years.”

Mr. Rae said he didn’t accept Ms. Turmel’s explanation that she took Bloc membership to support a friend.

“That makes no sense to anybody who has been in politics,” he said. “I don’t think the answers this week have added up.”

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