Flaherty remains finance minister

Wed May 18, 2011 12:56pm EDT
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The tax-cutting fiscal conservative who steered Canada's economy through the global financial crisis is keeping his job as finance minister after the Conservative Party won the May 2 election.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper included Flaherty in his new cabinet, which he announced on Wednesday.

Jim Flaherty is known as a hard-hitting partisan who doesn't fear controversy or shouting matches in Parliament to defend the Conservative government's policies.

He says he learned to be tough as a young hockey player to compensate for his small stature and that trait has carried over into his political career.

But the cheerful 61-year-old lawyer with a self-deprecating sense of humor also describes himself as a pragmatist. He shrugged off his instincts for small government during the recession to introduce massive stimulus spending and run up a record budget deficit.

Both the combativeness and the flexibility came in handy when the Conservatives held just a minority of seats in the House of Commons from 2006 until now, and needed the support of opposition members to pass legislation.

Now, with a decisive majority, and the worst of the global crisis over, Flaherty's job just got easier.

Days prior to his re-election Flaherty told Reuters he would not change the broad outlines of his latest budget if the Conservatives won, but there could be minor tweaks to take into account better than expected fiscal numbers to date.   Continued...

<p>Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty talks to reporters after a day of meetings with G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings at IMF headquarters in Washington, April 15, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst</p>