Wednesday, April 24, 2024

74 Jim Flaherty
Minister - Canada

James M Flaherty has been Minister of Finance of Canada since February 2006 and has also served as Ontario's Minister of Finance. As Finance Minister in a minority government that has introduced five budgets through the course of the international financial crisis, Flaherty emerges from his term with an enhanced reputation, both nationally and globally.

The reasons include Canada's strength, thanks to its survival of the worst excesses of the credit crunch, and a recovery that sees Flaherty now promising to reduce Canada's deficit to zero before any other 'G8' country.

Following Toronto's hosting of the G20 summit in June, Flaherty said Canada will keep working on the G-20's financial sector reform. He said Canada wants to keep global focus "on what matters," notably improving quality and quantity of capital, discourage excessive leverage and strengthen oversight and supervision. "We will do so with the same tenacity Canada demonstrated in dousing attempts to introduce a misguided and punitive global tax on the financial sector," he said in an interview withThe Wall Street Journal.

Descended from the O'Flahertys of Galway, who had a reputation for pillaging, he is known to have compared the role of raising tax with 'pillaging'.

He is reckoned to have managed Canada's path through the credit crisis well. He recalls the beginning of that crisis with a phone call from his counterpart south of the border, Hank Paulsen on a Sunday afternoon in August 2007 with the words 'we now know where the credit crisis is originating' - the source being the sub prime market.

He was present in Washington at a fateful G20 conference in October 2008, which was, he said, a meeting not like others, which normally were preceded by a pre-prepared communique, but which started with Paulsen addressing his counterparts with the words 'we're in a lot of trouble'. This agitated the Europeans in particular, who were of the opinion that Lehmans should not have been allowed fall, and a heated argument ensued. The upshot, though, was agreement, and a 5 point plan, which had at its core the agreement, says Flaherty, that there would be 'no more bank failures'. This was followed with agreement, at the Pittsburgh G20 that 'never again would we get so close to crisis'; and, at his own hosted G20 summit in Toronto in June 2010, an agreement for the first time amongst members that there would be quantitative targets for deficits and debt/GDP ratios for future years going forward.