DAVOS, Switzerland -
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is urging G20 countries to prevent future financial crises by copying Canada's moderate approach to controlling banks - even as his French counterpart asked for a complete overhaul of the capitalist system.
The Davos World Economic Forum, where Harper speaks today, is turning into a showdown between top bankers, who want lighter regulations to protect the fragile recovery, and others like French President Nicolas Sarkozy who want a major crackdown.
Harper gave a preview of his message Wednesday after meeting with business leaders and Zimbabwe's prime minister in this ski-resort town.
As host of the next G20 summit in Toronto later this year, Harper is urging countries to set aside their differences and adopt Canada's system based on "good and active regulation, but not on excessive regulation."
Canada's banking system held up well during the financial crisis that destroyed some of the world's largest financial institutions. Experts partly credit Canada's regulatory system, which discourages reckless lending and encourages banks to keep solid safety cushions, but does not micromanage investment practices or salaries.
"That's the approach that I'll be talking about tomorrow and I'll be encouraging among members of the G20," Harper said.
France's Sarkozy, on the other hand, opened the conference with a barn-burner of a speech, telling the G20 to stop tinkering with arcane regulations that will deal only superficially with the causes of the financial crisis.
"From the moment we accepted the idea that the market was always right and that no other opposing factors need be taken into account, globalization skidded out of control," Sarkozy told a lukewarm audience of bankers and politicians.