NEWSMAKER-Outspoken Canada Finance Minister Flaherty quits
* Flaherty was named Conservative finance minister in 2006
* Outspoken critic of euro zone debt crisis, deficits
* He will now return to the private sector
* Suffers from rare skin disease that limited activity
By Louise Egan
OTTAWA, March 18 (Reuters) - Canada's straight-talking finance minister, Jim Flaherty, is stepping down after eight years overseeing an economy that fared better than most in the global financial crisis but before he reached his goal of balancing the government's books.
Flaherty, 64, announced his resignation on Tuesday after months of speculation he would step down to attend to his health. He suffers from a rare skin disease that has forced him to dramatically reduce his public appearances and travel.
He denied his resignation had anything to do with his health, and he said he plans to return to the private sector.
He had been finance minister since the Conservative Party took power in February 2006, and is the third-longest serving finance minister in Canadian history. Continued...