This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," June 12, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: In the meantime, from no-go to watch them go from Gitmo.
Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto.
Well, seven down, 232 to go — the president making good on his pledge to start shutting down Guantanamo Bay, transferring detainees to New York, Iraq, and Chad, even Bermuda, and this despite a report also today that some military intelligence officers here are advising against the transfer of up to 60 detainees, including five deemed highly dangerous.
And while the island of Palau is more than willing to take these guests, my next guest was not and is not.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper joins me right now in this exclusive chat.
Mr. Prime Minister, very good to have you. Thank you for joining us.
STEPHEN HARPER, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Yes. Well, thanks for having me, Neil.
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CAVUTO: Let me ask you, sir. There's a lot of countries now coming forward and saying, we will take these guys.
With more willing to take them, are you?
HARPER: Well, we certainly — we certainly have left it to the government of the United States to deal with this particular issue.
There is a Canadian in Guantanamo who is charged. We're obviously waiting to see what President Obama's administration does in that particular case. But this government has a very strong record in opposing terrorism. And we're not offering Canada as a safe haven for anyone that the United States considers to be a terrorist.
CAVUTO: What do think, Mr. Prime Minister, of his wanting to eventually shut Gitmo down? I know, as you say, it is a U.S. concern, but it is a Canadian concern, as well, I guess.
HARPER: Well, it's — you know, this, ultimately, really is a decision in the United States.
As you know, there has been, although our — our government has been, I think, more understanding than some, there's been a lot of international concern about the process there. And, ultimately, the administration is going to have to find a balance between addressing some of those concerns, but maintaining strong defenses that we all share against the potential activity of terrorist.
It's is very a difficult problem. And I think I will leave it for President Obama to try and resolve, rather than, obviously, try and resolve it ourselves. But we work very closely with his administration, as we did with the previous administration, on identifying any terrorist suspects and — and trying to thwart their activities.
CAVUTO: Speaking of which, Mr. Prime Minister, as you know, we have been up 700 agents to our Canadian-American border to deal with this kind of issue and about the types of folks who might try to make their way into the United States from Canada.
It's caused some concern among many Canadians, who have — who seem to think that we are targeting Canadians. What did you make of that?
HARPER: Look, I think the concern on the Canadian side, we, as Canadians, have no concern at all about the fact the United States is obviously concerned about the movement of terrorists.
As I have been very clear, our government shares all of these concerns. I have been very clear with President Obama and with the American people that we view any threat to the United States as a threat to Canada. And we cooperate absolutely, fully, with the United States in — in this international effort.
The concern, I think, that Canadians have, particularly Canadian business, is the effects this could have on the relatively free movement of trade between our countries. We have very integrated economies. And we want to make ensure that the systems we put in place and processes we put in place to deal with the security threats do not become barriers to — to trade or to social interaction that are so deep between our own two countries.
We have work with two administrations on that. I think we're making some progress. But this remains a challenge.
CAVUTO: What about the challenge that came post the parliamentary elections last week, where a lot of moderate to conservative candidate seem to win out over established liberal governments in France, in Germany, in Italy, in Britain, in Hungary? I could go on and on.
But — but we are seeing more of that. And is it, in your view, a repudiation of what we have been seeing globally, the big spending by big governments globally, and voters are telling leaders to slow down? Or how would you interpret it?
HARPER: I would generally interpret what has been going on in the world politically, the United States actually being an exception, I — I would interpret, generally, that the population has been supporting incumbent governments that are seen to be focusing on the economy, and that, quite frankly, populations have not been willing to experiment with parties that are unproven in government or have economic agendas that are very unclear at this time.
Obviously, in the United States, the vote was massively for change, you know, for different reasons. I think part of the reason was many of the economic problems were seen to emanate from the United States. But our government in Canada, our conservative government, as you know, was actually reelected with a stronger position during the — during the — you know, the crash of the stock market and the significant economic decline we had last fall.
But I think that — our experience in Canada is actually more typical than what happened in the United States.
CAVUTO: I don't know if it is more typical, though, with all due respect, Mr. Prime Minister. I'm thinking that you have tried stimulus, and obviously are — have been doing a lot to try to get the Canadian economy going, but limited government-type intervention, so almost the reverse of what President Obama is trying to do.
And now the liberal parties, or the more liberal parties, the three opposition parties, who, if they all joined hands together, could — could topple you, are — are seeming to use a vote next Friday on some of these economic initiatives you're planning as a test case to bring you down.
What is going on?
HARPER: Well, we don't know that yet. I think we will all watch and see this.
The Canadian people are very clear that they don't want to see the opposition form another coalition. And they certainly — nobody wants to see an election right now just as we're beginning to see some of the effects of the recession ease. And we still have a lot of work to do on our economic action plan.
There are actually — you know, to be fair, Neil, I think there are a lot of similarities between what we're in doing in Canada with stimulus, what President Obama is doing, and what many other governments are doing.
The big difference in Canada is that we start from a completely different position. Our government had a surplus budget going into this recession. We were lowering taxes, permanently lowering taxes in a way that was affordable.
And, so, now we have a — even though we have the smallest deficit-GDP ratio, the smallest debt-GDP ratio, and the smallest deficit in relative terms in the G-7, we're actually able to have the biggest stimulus package, and we're actually in the best position to return to surplus when the recession is over.
So, the difference is not so much our actions. There are some differences there. I think ours are a little more focused on long-term investments and in the longer term.
But the big difference is, our debt and deficit positions here, our overall fiscal position, is fundamentally sound. We all know that there is a deep structural deficit that exists in the United States, that existed even before the recession took hold.
CAVUTO: True enough, sir. But our fiscal condition is not sound right now. In fact, depending on who you talk to...