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Canada's government to focus on more jobs

The speech reopening Canada's Parliament in Ottawa Wednesday said the minority Conservatives' top priority is reducing unemployment.

The 6,000-word speech was written by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office and formally read by Governor General Michaelle Jean, the Canwest News Service said.

"Jobs and growth remain the top priority," Jean said. "Too many Canadians still find themselves out of work and events beyond our borders could yet threaten a fragile recovery."

About 1.5 million of Canada's 33 million people are unemployed, federal statistics show.

Regarding the anticipated $56 billion deficit this year and some $45 billion next year, the Conservatives said they would be introducing bills to lower the salaries of the prime minister, cabinet ministers, members of Parliament and senators, the Toronto Star said.

In addition, the budgets of government departments' salaries, administration and overhead will also be frozen, but a timeframe wasn't mentioned.

The Conservatives plan to reintroduce several justice bills that include tougher drug and youth criminal sentencing and organized crime measures, the Star said.

The actual budget is scheduled to be introduced Thursday by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Harper suspended Parliament at the end of December, saying his government needed undivided attention to create a post-recessionary financial plan. (UPI )

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