Canada's Conservative government promises to introduce a balanced budget law

TORONTO – Canada’s government said Wednesday it will introduce a law requiring a balanced budget during normal economic times.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government announced the proposed law in a speech in Parliament that outlines the government’s priorities for a new session of the House of Commons.

The government said it will introduce concrete timelines for restoring a balanced budget after an economic crisis.

The government said the deficit is less than forecast and it plans to balance the budget by 2015.

Harper has been in power since 2007. He has managed to nudge an instinctively centre-left country to the right, gradually lowering sales and corporate taxes, avoiding climate change legislation and promoting Arctic sovereignty. He has also upped military spending, extended Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan and staunchly backed Israel’s right-wing government.

The government also reiterated Wednesday that a lack of pipelines threatens to strand resources at a time when global demand for Canadian energy is soaring. Harper has said he “won’t take no for an answer” if U.S. President Barack Obama rejects the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The pipeline is critical to Canada, which needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil sands production. The northern Alberta region has the world’s third largest oil reserves, with 170 billion barrels of proven reserves.

The government also said it will confer honorary citizenship on Pakistani teen Malala Yousafzai who survived a Taliban attack on her school bus in October 2012.