He is credited with keeping the government in power and keeping the economy from heading in the abyss in 2008 with a $60 billion dollar bailout. For 2015 the federal budget will once again be in a surplus.
Finance Ministers are by definition the most powerful persons in government next to the prime minister. Often their policies are non partisan and incorporate what, in their estimation, is the correct course for the country. As a consequence they are not always in tune with the party or the prime minister’s preference. They then have to sell their plan to to both their caucus and the public at large.
He guided Canada through the economic recession and prepared ten federal budgets. Flaherty was widely respected by his G8 partners and was one of the most influential financial finance ministers within that group. He was the only finance minister the Harper government has had since it took over government in 2006.
During the preparation of his final federal budget earlier this year, he rid the government of the deficit and for the first time in 2015 Canada’s federal government will have a surplus. He also very public disagreed witht the prime minister on income splitting.
Jim Flaherty has been a public servant for 20 years, first in the Harris government and then with the Harper government. His policies often came at considerable political cost. By definition he could be called a tax cutting conservative libertarian.
In an article in the Vancouver Sun, William Watson, an economics professor at Gill university, sums Flaherty service up this way:
But the fact is that our post-Crash recession was milder than those of the early 1980s and the early 1990s and milder, too, than in any other G8 country, as the government, now mainly annoyingly, keeps telling us, over and over again. (That may be true, Canadians will say next year, but what else have you got?)
There’s an interesting symmetry to Flaherty’s first and last days as finance minister. In his first year, at considerable political cost, he did away with income trusts, which he clearly had come to believe were mainly a gimmick for escaping tax. In his final year, he mused publicly — and maybe fatally to his career, who knows? — about backing off the government’s promise to introduce income-splitting. In both cases, quite apart from the merits of either case, Canadians saw a finance minister who was willing to re-think an issue and change his mind if he thought that was the right thing to do.
That’s almost the definition of a good public servant.
Source: Vancouver Sun
Pundits supporting the New Democratic Party, the Liberals and Conservative Party opined that Flaherty was indeed a good public servant with policies that he determined were best for Canada.
Jim Flaherty said that he wants to get back into the private sector and the obvious, to spend more time with his family. In a statement announcing that the was leaving the public sector he said:
“Yesterday, I informed the Prime Minister that I am resigning from Cabinet. This was a decision I made with my family earlier this year, as I will be returning to the private sector.
I am grateful to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for providing me with the opportunity and responsibility to serve Canadians as their Minister of Finance since 2006, one of the longest serving Finance Ministers in Canadian history. As a government, we achieved great things for Canada and I could never have accomplished what I have as Finance Minister without the full support of Prime Minister Harper.”
Flaherty listed some of his accomplishments including reducing taxes, introducing the tax free savings account, helping improve the lives of people with disabilities and stewarding Canada through the great recession. He said that his resignation had nothing to do with his health and that he was happy to report that he was on the road to full recovery from his serious skin disease. He said that the decision was th right one for him and his family.
The Canadian Press reports that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will announce the replacement for Jim Flaherty today. Sources are quoted that Natural Resources Minister John Oliver will step into the job of Flaherty. CBC reported this morning, with confidence, that John Oliver will step into the job. John Oliver is 73 years old, without leadership aspirations, and a former development banker on Bay Street. He is a safe choice to stay the course and provide continuity needed.
While the new finance minister will have to take ownership of the portfolio, he will stay Jim Flaherty’s course. Flaherty has been a steady hand during his eight years in the position. Partisan politics will undoubtedly be unkind to him in the short term and some of the smear has already started on social media. In the end history will judge him as a positive guiding hand that brought Canada out of deficit budgeting.