OTTAWA - Sure a majority government is a great accomplishment, but Stephen Harper says raising happy, productive kids is his life's greatest ambition.
The prime minister made the comment during the inaugural episode of Global Television's "The West Block with Tom Clark" on Sunday. The interview was taped last week during the G20 leaders' meeting in Cannes, France.
Clark remarked that winning a majority government was the ambition of Harper's lifetime. Harper politely disagreed.
"Obviously I'm pretty proud of the achievement. I would say, probably my even bigger ambition of a lifetime is the ambition that most families have, and that's to see my children grow up and be happy, and be productive citizens," Harper said of his children Ben, 15, and Rachel, 12.
"And that's probably the thing that's my biggest ambition of a lifetime, but it's one we share with so many other families out there."
Harper added that to date, his administration's legacy has been its handling of the Canadian economy.
"Look, I think all prime ministers would like to think that there's some big legacy project that will define them. And there's all kinds of things we've done, and all kinds of things I hope to do," Harper said.
"But our success to date is that we have so far steered Canada through the worst global recession since the Second World War, in the best position of any advanced country. And if we can continue to do that, I think that will be a success and that will continue to be my focus as long as that is the big problem that we all share."
Harper and other leaders at the Cannes summit came through an agonizing few days of uncertainty as Greece wavered between accepting a European bailout and putting the package and its attached austerity measures to national referendum. Although the Greek President George Papandreou ultimately backed down from the vote, his government continues to teeter on the edge.
Harper said he still doesn't believe Canada is headed towards a recession, despite indications that's where Europe is likely headed. He pointed out that the United States is still registering slow growth, and that's the country to which Canada's economy is most tied.
"In fact every leader — every single leader at the G20 will tell you that the European uncertainty has affected job creation and growth in their economies. But most of them are still continuing to grow. Albeit at reduced rates," Harper said.
"So that continues to be our expectation, and our plan has been based on the assumption we will grow, but we will grow slowly."
Clark also asked Harper about disappointing jobs numbers last week, which indicated the economy had lost 54,000 jobs in October and pushed the unemployment rate up to 7.3 per cent.
The prime minister blamed global uncertainty for the slump in job creation.
"I think it can be corrected. I mean, everything I see is that ... there's a lot of money out there sitting on the sidelines," Harper said.
"And markets are saying, 'Give us some good news. Give us the confidence, we'll get off the sidelines and into the game.' Every time, Tom, we see some good news, I'm amazed how quickly markets pick up. They want the solution."