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Harper Says Private Demand to Sustain Canada Recovery

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said private demand should be able to maintain the country’s expansion, even as a “fragile” global economy poses “considerable risk.”

“Our own read is that private domestic demand should be sufficient going forward to sustain the recovery that we do have,” Harper told reporters today in Mississauga, Ontario. “Domestic demand in Canada actually remains quite robust.”

Harper also said his government will extend until Oct. 31, 2011, a deadline for stimulus funding for infrastructure projects, saying there is “no harm” in making sure they are completed.

Canada’s economy slowed more than forecast in the third quarter as a stronger currency restrained exports and boosted imports. Gross domestic product expanded at a 1 percent annual pace in the third quarter, Statistics Canada said this week, following an increase of 2.3 percent in the prior three-month period.

Domestic demand grew 0.9 percent in the third quarter from the April-June period, compared with 0.3 percent for the economy as a whole, the agency also said.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who said in October that Canadian deficits will total C$165.2 billion ($164.5 billion) over the 2009-2014 period, had said repeatedly he would be reasonable in enforcing the original deadline.

Flaherty said last month that next year’s budget won’t contain new spending measures. He implemented a C$47 billion stimulus package in his 2009 budget.

The Bank of Canada projected in October that domestic demand will contribute 3.9 percentage points to growth this year and add 1.9 points in 2011.

“We continue to be cautiously optimistic going forward,” Harper said. “I keep saying this all in the context of a global economy and a global recovery that, as we know, outside of Canada has considerable risk.”

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