POLITICS
10/24/2011 03:38 EDT | Updated 12/24/2011 05:12 EST

B.C. Finance Minister says European economy a slow-moving train wreck

VICTORIA - Europe's financial troubles are like a slow-moving train wreck and British Columbia should cash in on the disaster, says the province's finance minister.

Kevin Falcon toured the continent this month promoting B.C. as a safe harbour for investment.

Governments were cowering, banks were collapsing and investors were running scared as the continent braces for serious belt-tightening measures, Falcon said, summing up his European tour.

"The bad news is that what's happening in Europe is a slow-motion train wreck," he told reporters. "Everyone knows it's got to be dealt with. The speed at which it's being dealt with is not sufficient at all to give any kind of comfort to investors around the world."

His sales pitch to bankers, traders and investors in France, Germany, Switzerland and England focused on B.C.'s diversified economy and low debt.

The minister said his government needs to focus on nervous investors looking to put their capital in a secure place.

"British Columbia and Canada can be that safe harbour. But we have to be much more aggressive."

Major selling points in Europe are Canada's sound banking system and determination from the federal and provincial governments to meet budget targets, he said.

Falcon has pledged that the B.C. government will meet its target of a balanced budget within two years.