By Andrea Hopkins and David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested on Thursday that a C$30 billion budget deficit was not a hard limit as the government's focus should be on spurring economic growth.
In a wide-ranging interview, Trudeau, 44, said he was not obsessed with a "perfect number" for the budget deficit and instead vowed to find the right path to economic growth, saying that was more important than a specific deficit target.
"Yes, we need to be fiscally disciplined, we need to be responsible, but we need to be investing in the right kinds of things at the same time, so the arbitrary picking a number and trying to stick with it is exactly what I campaigned against in the last campaign," Trudeau said.
"It's not an obsession with the perfect number, it's an obsession with the perfect, or the right, path to grow the economy in ways that help in the short term but lead us on the path towards prosperity in the medium and long term."
Canada's economic growth has been tepid and massive wildfires that have spread across the country's energy heartland will cost the government in terms of aid money and in tax revenues lost in oil production cuts. Trudeau campaigned on a proposed C$10 billion annual deficit but Ottawa later said the economy needed a bigger jump start given the downturn.
"What Trudeau learned from ballooning out the deficit the first time was that voters don't care. Canadian voters are prioritizing growth and Trudeau plans to deliver that at any cost," said Adam Button, currency analyst at ForexLive in Montreal.
"Like voters, the market is much more concerned with growth at this point. Central bankers have failed to deliver growth and markets are willing to tolerate larger government deficits for a chance to return to the old normal."
Sitting at his desk in his corner office on Parliament Hill, Trudeau said he did not see a point at which the government would walk away from talks with Bombardier Inc because aerospace jobs were exactly the kind of future Canada wants.
Ottawa is under pressure to provide aid to the plane maker, which is based in the mostly French-speaking province of Quebec, Trudeau's home, but federal negotiators want concessions around control of the company.
The prime minister, elected to a stunning majority in October, also said that while community consultation was vital, Aboriginal groups did not have a veto over pipeline development.
Several photos of Trudeau's late father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, graced the wood-paneled walls of the office, while photos of Trudeau, his wife and three young children were displayed beside special gifts he has received, including an Aboriginal blanket he received as a child.
Trudeau said there would be no unanimous agreement over the future of pipelines needed to carry oil from landlocked Alberta, but the government's long approval processes ensured any decisions would balance concerns from both the environment and the energy sectors.
Trudeau said he hoped Britain would stay in the European Union, noting there would be "nothing easy or automatic" about Britain negotiating a bilateral trade deal with Canada.
He declined to comment on whether Canada or the world would struggle if Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump were to win the White House in November, saying global relationships were bigger than any one personality.
"I know that the relationship between Canada and the U.S., specifically, but (also) between the U.S. and the rest of the G7 countries is greater than the personality of any one leader and I look forward to working with whomever the Americans elect this fall," Trudeau said, adding that he has never spoken to Trump.
(Additional reporting by Leah Schnurr, and Fergal Smith in Toronto; Editing by Amran Abocar, Toni Reinhold)