Jim Flaherty dead at 64

Former finance minister Jim Flaherty has died at his Ottawa home. He was 64.

Flaherty stepped down from his post as finance minister last month, citing plans to eventually take a job in the private sector. At the time, Flaherty said he and his family came to the decision that he would resign from cabinet, but did not say whether he would remain an MP until the 2015 election.

He denied that his health had anything to do with the move.

He had been coping with a painful skin condition, Bullous Pemphigoid.

The condition required him to take powerful medications that left him appearing bloated, and looking and sounding at times extremely fatigued.

In a statement announcing his resignation from cabinet, Flaherty said that he was “on the road to a full recovery.

Flaherty was born in Lachine, Que. on Dec. 30, 1949 and, after growing up in Quebec, went on to earn a BA from Princeton University and a law degree from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

He helped found law firm Flaherty Dow Elliott before jumping into provincial politics in the early 1990s.

He lost his first time out, but won the Whitby-Ajax riding in 1995 and held several cabinet posts over the next decade, including labour, finance and deputy premier.

After two unsuccessful attempts to win the leadership of the Ontario Conservatives, he made a successful leap to the federal scene in 2006, winning in Whitby-Oshawa.

As federal finance minister, Flaherty made tax cuts a priority, starting with a one-per-cent cut to the GST, followed by another cut in 2008.

In 2007, Flaherty introduced the Registered Disability Savings Plan to help Canadians with disabilities save for retirement, and in 2008 introduced the Tax-Free Savings Account.

He also raised the base deduction rate, cut a point from the lowest personal tax rate and raised the limits of the two lowest tax categories.

Flaherty wasn’t afraid to spend, however, once the 2009 recession hit, pouring billions of stimulus into the economy via the Economic Action Plan.

When he stepped down last month, Flaherty thanked his constituents, his House colleagues, his wife, Christine Elliott, who represents her husband’s former provincial riding, and the couple’s three sons: John, Galen and Quinn.

“We live in the greatest country in the world, and I want Canadians to know that it has been my honour and my privilege to serve them,” Flaherty said.


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