In an exclusive interview Thursday with Brian Lilley, host of Byline on Sun News Network, Harper said he's surprised at the extent world economies continue to struggle following the 2008-09 financial collapse.
"I thought that while the recovery would be slow, I did not expect the level of uncertainty that we still see," he said.
And with economic storm clouds swirling over Europe, the debt and jobs crisis in the U.S. showing little signs of abating and other industrialized economies retreating, Harper said he will take additional steps this fall to protect Canada.
"I want the budget to be balanced...but our first objective is not balancing the budget. Our first objective is to make sure the Canadian economy keeps growing.
"And in my judgment the gradual reduction in the ($24-$25 billion) deficit is the way to go if that can be managed and I think it can be managed."
He said the government will continue to seek new trade opportunities to wean Canada off its dependence on the U.S. and pointed to 50 agreements in the works, including deals with China, Japan, Europe and India.
Balancing the books not top priority: Harper | Canada | News | Toronto Sun