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CP: 'Green' budget would create 160,000 jobs

OTTAWA — A new report says the Harper government could create more than 160,000 jobs with a massive "green" stimulus package in next week's federal budget.

Sustainable Prosperity, a think-tank of economic and environmental experts, says Canada should follow Barack Obama's lead by focusing on green investments. The report, released Wednesday, calls for a $15-billion investment to create green jobs and help the environment.

It says the measure would make good sense because it offers strong short-term economic returns and job creation.

And it prepares Canada to compete in the low-carbon, green economy of the future "by retooling our economy with cleaner technology and infrastructure."

Sustainable Prosperity also notes that because harm to the environment carries a big economic cost, environmentally positive stimulus measures provide greater value than neutral or negative ones.

"This report provides a framework that allows government to select those projects that increase economic activity in the short-term and set the stage for our longer-term environmental and economic progress," said David Watters, the report's main author and a former senior bureaucrat with the federal Finance Department.

The report proposes a rating system to assess proposals based on their economic, environmental and implementation impacts. The following offered the best combined economic and environmental returns:

-Building retrofits (for more energy efficient homes and public buildings)

-New green infrastructure (transit, wastewater, a "smart" electricity grid)

-Clean-up of toxic sites

-Investments in clean energy

Sustainable Prosperity describes itself as "a research-policy initiative aimed at building a healthy environment and economy by making markets work for the environment."

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