Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 7, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Blair Gable
OTTAWA - NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's musings that Canada should adopt the socialist French model on pensions was met with ridicule and charges of economic incompetence Thursday by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in and outside the House of Commons.
Flaherty unleashed after Mulcair - who holds French citizenship - said he would use tax dollars to bail out European banks from the debt hole that deepens by the day and is causing global economic turbulence.
Canada, the United States and other countries have refused to contribute to the International Monetary Fund to help the eurozone, saying it has the means, but not the political will to implement tough austerity measures.
"The solution is not, as the NDP leader suggests, to take billions of Canadian tax dollars and give them to wealthy European countries," Flaherty said.
Mulcair used the timing of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's trip to France on Thursday to champion that country's decision to lower to 60 from 62 the age to receive a pension. He was mocking the Harper government's decision to raise the age to collect Old Age Security in Canada to 67 from 65.
Many economists say generous social programs such as early retirement are among the dearth of reasons why Europe is in trouble it's in.
Mulcair says the NDP has "been sounding the alarm for months" about the risks facing the global economy and accused the Conservatives of having no plan to shield Canada from the fallout.
"Is everything under control like the Conservatives say or are we on the brink of collapse?" he said in the Commons.
Flaherty says Canada weathered the 2008-09 financial crisis better than most countries and is prepared to inject new stimulus if things sour.
He called on the NDP to quit delaying the passage of a budget implementation bill that the government says contains measures to protect Canada from economic broadsides.