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Jim Flaherty, former Canadian finance minister, dies at 64

Jim Flaherty in 2009. (Nathan Denette/AP)

Former Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty, a fixture on the world financial stage who stepped down last month, died April 10 in Ottawa. He was 64.

Mr. Flaherty’s family announced the death but did not disclose the cause.

Mr. Flaherty, who had the job since 2006, was the longest-serving finance minister among the Group of Seven leading industrial economies until he announced he was stepping down March 18 to return to the private sector.

He battled a rare skin disease over the past year, but had said his decision to leave politics was not related.

Mr. Flaherty was Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s only finance minister since Harper took power eight years ago. He is credited with helping get Canada back on track to a balanced budget after pumping stimulus money into the economy following the 2008 financial crisis.

James Michael Flaherty was born Dec. 30, 1949, in the Montreal suburb of Lachine. He was a 1970 graduate of Princeton University, which he attended on a hockey scholarship, and then graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School at Toronto’s York University.

Raised in a family of Liberal Party political supporters, he said that he developed an “independence of thought” at York that led him to be a Conservative.

After many years as a lawyer, Mr. Flaherty spent almost two decades in politics, including stints as minister of finance, attorney general and deputy premier at the provincial level in Ontario. In 2006, after two unsuccessful bids to lead the Ontario Conservatives, Mr. Flaherty entered federal politics.

Harper’s Conservative government plans on entering an election next year with a budget surplus, and the prime minister has praised Mr. Flaherty for helping make that happen.

Canada’s commodity-rich economy avoided the worst of the crisis and has fared better than other nations. There was no mortgage meltdown or subprime crisis in Canada.

Mr. Flaherty took over from former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Liberals in 2006 and broadly stuck to his predecessor’s approach, though Mr. Flaherty cut taxes and, when recession struck, pumped stimulus money into the economy. He was also an outspoken critic of European countries for their handling of the debt crisis and urged them to get their debt problems under control.

Survivors include his wife, Christine Elliott, who is a member of Parliament, and their triplet sons.

— From staff and wire reports



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