Harper seen keeping finance minister

Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:41am EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - When Prime Minister Stephen Harper decides this week on a cabinet for his second term in office, he appears certain to keep Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in his post to help combat the financial crisis.

"You can't announce to the world that there is a crisis and then fire the finance minister. He's not going anywhere," a senior ministerial staffer said on Monday on condition of anonymity.

Flaherty has been the face of Canada's multi-billion dollar effort to protect the nation's economy and banking system from the global liquidity crisis, including recent plans to purchase bank mortgage assets and guarantee interbank lending.

Harper's Conservative team won reelection on October 14 with a strengthened minority in Parliament. Ministers' chiefs of staff have been told to have their bosses ready for a possible swearing-in of cabinet late this week.

Speculation has mounted about various cabinet permutations but the one thing that is constant is that Flaherty, finance minister throughout Harper's 2-1/2-year first term, will stay.

"This would be the worst time to change your finance minister, absolutely the worst time," said another senior Conservative.

Harper is meeting Flaherty and his staff on Tuesday in Ottawa to prepare for international finance ministers meetings in Peru and Brazil, taking place next month as part of a global effort to address the financial turmoil.

Flaherty has been at the center of efforts to contain the effects on Canada of the international financial crisis, and in the second half of the five-week election campaign he spent much time in Ottawa at the Finance Department rather than stumping for Harper.   Continued...

<p>Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty listens to a question during a news conference at Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 23, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>