Jim Flaherty announced yesterday he would be resigning his post as Canadian finance minister after more than eight years on the job. The following are comments from executives, economists and officials on his tenure as Canada’s third longest-serving finance chief.
Mark Carney, Governor, Bank of England:
“I had the privilege of working with Jim Flaherty for the better part of 8 years, including through some of the most turbulent times in Canada’s and the world’s economic history. From his sound management of the Canadian economy to his invaluable contributions to international policy making, Jim Flaherty has exhibited the very best of Canadian virtues in service to our country.”
Gordon Nixon, CEO, Royal Bank of Canada:
“In many ways Canada has been incredibly lucky to have had Mike Wilson, Paul Martin and Jim Flaherty be our three finance ministers for most of the last 30 years.
‘‘It’s been a real source of strength for the country to have such stability in the finance portfolio. In their own way, Michael Wilson, Paul Martin and Jim Flaherty were all outstanding finance ministers. They were similar in some respects, and they were different -- obviously different parties -- but they were all very solid ministers in terms of fiscal discipline and fiscal policy. The country was well served as a result.’’
Murray Edwards, Chairman, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd:
‘‘Minister Flaherty should be going out with his head hung high and owed a debt of gratitude for his service to the Canadian public.
‘‘He’s going out with the federal government being in a much stronger financial position, but he also had the foresight in the economic slowdown in 2008 and 2009 to step forward and put stimulus in the economy.
‘‘I think that history will judge Minister Flaherty like it judged Paul Martin and Michael Wilson, recent finance ministers of stature. He did a good job of steering the ship of Canada, on its financial side,through both calm seas and challenging seas.’’
Ed Clark, chief executive officer of TD Bank:
‘‘Jim Flaherty provided Canadians and the financial sector with strong leadership through the financial crisis and, working together, we were able to avoid the fate of many other countries. He also brought a personal commitment to several issues including support for disabled Canadians and, among his many achievements, the creation of a single securities regulator.’’
Louis Vachon, CEO, National Bank of Canada:
‘‘He showed great professionalism in his management of the Canadian economy. His commitments always resulted in actions. I salute him sincerely.’’
Francois Dupuis, Chief Economist, Mouvement Desjardins:
‘‘Mr. Flaherty did an excellent job. He’s one of the best finance ministers we’ve had in the past 30 years. Thanks to him Canada always had very rigorous management of its finances. His actions were always rational. Often I think he managed to resist political pressures to ensure that decisions were based on economic rationale rather than partisan considerations.
Don Lindsay, CEO, Teck Resources Ltd:
‘‘I wish Minister Flaherty well as he enters into this new phase of his career and thank him for his leadership and vision during his time in government. His commitment to fiscal responsibility and a competitive business climate has positioned Canadian businesses for long-term success here at home and abroad.’’
Frank Swedlove, president, Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association:
‘‘He also understood the importance of insurance for Canadians and supported the industry, including in promoting appropriate international accounting standards for the insurance industry.’’
Ian Russell, chief executive officer, Investment Industry Association of Canada:
‘‘He’s made Canada a much more competitive place to do business by moving corporate tax rates steadily lower. That was a consistent focus on making our corporate tax system more competitive.’’
Terry Campbell, president, Canadian Bankers Association
‘‘He has continued to champion our sound, strong banks, which was important in maintaining public confidence at a time when banks around the world were either getting bailed out or failed. I also applaud him for his vision and determination to put in place a cooperative common securities regulator. Canada is the only industrialized country without a national securities regulator and we continue to believe that Canada needs a single national voice on the international stage.’’
Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at Toronto-Dominion Bank
‘‘I don’t think anyone’s too surprised that he’s stepping down here. Generally speaking we expect continuity in policy. The only thing the markets will be worried about is if there’s a step back from balanced budget projections or the intent to balance the budget by 2015. I don’t think that’s going to be the case, so we’re going to get more of the same whoever replaces him.”
Ian McKinnon, vice president of fixed income at Addenda Capital Inc.
“Whenever you have a known entity like him, who decides to retire on short notice in uncertain times--I don’t think it will be a major problem, but bond guys like certainty.”
“He was well respected generally as a representative of Canadian finance and I think he would have been seen from international participants as a strong representative for Canadian finance.”