Jim Flaherty, Canada’s third-longest serving finance minister of all time, died on Thursday simply weeks after he had retired from his post. While no official cause of death has been released, police stated they had responded to a call reporting a heart attack at his residence at 12:30 pm Thursday. He was 64 years of age.
Flaherty first rose to national and international prominence when he was elected to a federal office for the first time in 2006. Once elected to the House of Commons, Flaherty was inaugurated as the Minister of Finance under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. From that point forward, the two men worked together as minority members of the Conservative Party of Canada to exert whatever influence they could to better their nation.
Unfortunately for Flaherty and Canada, one of his first actions in office violated an important campaign principle and platform issue he and other conservatives had run under – the taxation of income trusts. Flaherty’s decision to change the income trust tax rules led to a $20 billion stock market loss overnight and much opposition from many political bodies on both the left and right of the political spectrum. Despite this negative feedback, however, Flaherty stayed the course – a trait he would become known for internationally.
Flaherty’s greatest success came with leading Canada through the great recession which swept the international marketplace by storm in 2008. At that time, he and prime minister Stephen Harper decided to goes against political lines once again by introducing a massive government stimulus to spur economic growth.
The stimulus was the largest Canada had seen since World War II. Remaining true to his ideological and political ties, however, Flaherty ended the stimulus as soon as possible and has since added $162 billion back to the pockets of the federal government, essentially ensuring that the Canadian budget will be balanced once again in 2015.
Canada’s performance during the Great Recession was better than any other nation in the G-7 in all but one of Flaherty’s terms as Finance Minister.
“This is a man who was a true believer in multilateralism. They way he went about it was direct. He led, he cajoled, he urged members around the table to pursue the right policies … he wouldn’t settle for anything less,” stated Mark Carney, the chief of the Bank of England and close confidant of Flaherty.
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