Outspoken Canada Finance Minister Flaherty quits
By Louise Egan
OTTAWA (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.
"In my time as finance minister, I am proud of the work I have done to help manage the deepest economic challenge to face Canada since the depression of the 1930s and ensure Canada emerged stronger and as a recognized economic leader on the international stage," Flaherty said in a written statement announcing his resignation.
There was a flurry of speculation in mid-2013 that he would be forced to step down as finance minister but Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed him in the job in a July 15 cabinet shuffle.
Flaherty had said publicly he wanted to stay in his job until eliminating the government's budget deficit, and in his budget last month he laid out a path to accomplish that goal by next year, ahead of an election scheduled for October.
He introduced broad tax cuts early in his term, priming the economic pump just before the start of the global credit crisis. Continued...