News Canada

European rescue tops G20 agenda

David Akin, Parliamentary Bureau Chief

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper joins the leaders of the world's biggest economies at a resort town on Mexico's Pacific coast Monday for what may very well be the most crucial G20 meeting in that summit's brief four-year history.

At stake, nothing less than saving Europe from itself.

Harper will take the same position he's taken now for weeks, that Europe is rich enough to save itself.

"We're of the view that Europe has the resources it needs to overwhelm this crisis," Andrew MacDougall, Harper's director of communications, told reporters Thursday. "As the richest economy in the world, Europe has the resources it needs to tackle this problem."

European leaders have been begging Canada and the U.S. to cough up billions for a special international monetary fund pool that could be used to prop up either failing European banks or to lend to struggling European states like Portugal, Spain and Italy.

The crisis in Europe may actually get significantly worse while Harper travels to Mexico on Sunday.

Greek voters are going to the polls on Sunday in what is seen as yet another referendum on the bailout plan Europe is ready to offer that bankrupt country. If voters in Greece return a Parliament committed to rejecting the bailout, that could set the stage for Greece's exit from the Eurozone, its return to its own national currency, the drachma, and would make a crisis of confidence in other European countries much worse.

MacDougall said that, while Canada would prefer Europe sort its own mess out, Canada would be prepared to take some action, possibly through the Bank of Canada, depending on the fallout from that Greek vote.