(...) "Canada remains in a very special place in the world. . . . We are the one major developed country that no one thinks has any responsibility for this crisis," he said to laughter.
"In fact, on the contrary, they look at our policies as a solution to the crisis. We're the one country in the room everybody would like to be," he said at the end of the summit of the Group of 20 advanced and developing nations in Pittsburgh.
Canada, which was running a budget surplus before the recession and avoided major banking problems, has been less affected by the crisis than many of its partners.
Harper said the other G20 nations "would like to be an advanced developed economy with all the benefits that conveys to its citizens and at the same time not have been the source, or have any of the domestic problems, that created this crisis".
By this stage of his comments, the initial premise of the question had long since vanished and Harper - who leads the right-leaning Conservative Party - was focusing on several other factors that in his mind make Canada so irresistible.
"We're so self-effacing as Canadians that we sometimes forget the assets we do have that other people see," he said, speaking with a rare passion.
"We are one of the most stable regimes in history. . . . We are unique in that regard," he added, noting Canada had enjoyed more than 150 years of untroubled Parliamentary democracy.
Just in case that was not enough to persuade doubters, Harper threw in some more facts about the geographically second-largest nation in the world.
"We also have no history of colonialism. So we have all of the things that many people admire about the great powers but none of the things that threaten or bother them," he said. (...)