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Is Canada in recession? Too soon to tell, finance minister says

WATCH: With a low Canadian dollar, plummeting exports and a new oil shock, economists are saying it smells a lot like a recession. But, Canada’s finance minister believes our country is on the right track. Mike Le Couteur explains.

Finance Minister Joe Oliver says it’s too early to tell if Canada’s economy has slumped into a recession.

Oliver says the country is well-positioned to weather an economic battering, but it is in a fragile environment with external factors like the price of oil and economic troubles in Europe threatening a global slowdown.

He says the fact that American growth was down in the first quarter also undermines confidence for Canadian companies that export products.

MORE: Canada’s companies are taking an axe to spending plans

Statistics Canada said last week the economy shrank 0.1 per cent in April, the fourth monthly decline in a row – raising the odds that Canada could post back-to-back quarters of negative growth, the technical definition of a recession.

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Recession ‘likely’

The monthly reading combined with other dismal indicators provoked TD Bank to suggest on Monday that Canada was likely in a recession in the first half of the year. TD predicted the Bank of Canada would cut its key interest rates next week.

In a speech to a crowd earlier at the Australia-Canada Economic Leadership Forum in Vancouver, Oliver said Canada must stay the economic course.

He said he was confident Europe will be able to sort itself out over the debt crisis in Greece.

— With files from Canadian Press