VICTORIA, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Friday he intends to stay in his job until the federal budget is balanced, a goal set for 2015, shrugging off speculation that he might step down next year.
Flaherty, 62, has been finance minister since 2006, making him the longest-serving cabinet minister in the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“We have a long-term economic plan... I intend to see my way through to the end until we are balanced, and as you know it will be in the medium term, during the course of this Parliament. So I intend to stay,” he told reporters when asked about his plans.
Speculation that Flaherty may resign had resurfaced in the capital recently. The National Post newspaper reported this week that the departure of Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney to head the Bank of England might precipitate a move by Flaherty after he delivers the next budget early in 2013.
Flaherty’s spokesman, Chisholm Pothier, was cited by the paper as saying the minister was “not going anywhere.”
Flaherty and Harper say they intend to eliminate the country’s deficit during the current session of Parliament, which ends in 2015. This suggests they plan to campaign on their sound fiscal management in the next election scheduled for October of that year.
Depending how long Flaherty stays, his tenure could rival that of former Liberal Finance Minister Paul Martin, who held the job for 9-1/2 years from November 1993 to June 2002.
A Princeton graduate and lawyer, Flaherty is one of the most fiery politicians in Ottawa and at international meetings of the Group of 20, where he has earned a reputation as a tough-talking negotiator.
Writing by Louise Egan; Editing by Peter Galloway and Bernadette Baum