Former Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty dies

Michael Noonan pays tribute to politican who ‘championed the promotion of Irish related projects in Canada’

Former Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty pictured in Dublin last summer. Mr Flaherty died yesterday aged 64. Photo: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Former Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty pictured in Dublin last summer. Mr Flaherty died yesterday aged 64. Photo: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Fri, Apr 11, 2014, 14:55

Former Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty has died, just one month after stepping down from the position he held since 2006.

Mr Flaherty, who oversaw the $40-billion stimulus package that helped Canada weather the global financial crisis, was 64. His family said he passed away peacefully in Ottawa, but did not give a cause of death.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said Mr Flaherty was forever accessible to the Irish Government and the Irish community and constantly championed the promotion of Irish related projects in Canada.

“He was a gracious host during my visit to Toronto over the St Patrick’s Day period. We worked closely together in the IMF and World Bank, where Ireland and Canada share a constituency.”

He said Mr Flaherty strongly promoted Canada’s national interest but was always determined to ensure that Ireland’s position was defended.

When Standard & Poor’s downgraded Ireland in 2010, Mr Flaherty defended Irish government policies, saying credit ratings agencies needed to realise that countries like Ireland have taken bold steps to fix their public finances and financial systems.

In 2012, he was conferred with an honorary degree by NUIG, in recognition of his “outstanding and distinctive contribution to public administration and Government”.

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde said Mr Flaherty “was a highly effective finance minister, who devoted himself to improving Canada’s economy”.

“He was also a principled and forthright colleague in international fora such as the G-20 and the International Monetary and Financial Committee. I speak for the whole international community represented by the IMF membership when I say that his passing is a great loss.”

Mr Flaherty was one of the longest-serving finance ministers in Canadian history.

He studied at Princeton University on a hockey scholarship, and earned a law degree from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He was called to the Bar in Ontario with honours and practised law for more than 20 years before being elected to public office.

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper said Mr Flaherty’s death was “unexpected and a terrible shock”.

“Jim will be sorely missed, not only by his friends on both sides of the House ... but he will also be missed by the countless thousands of Canadians that he devoted himself to and whom he helped during his long and successful career in public life.”