Jim Flaherty, who passed away Thursday at the age of 64, was finance minister for Stephen Harper for more than eight years. He resigned from cabinet on March 18. Here are 10 of the defining moments of his tenure.
Swearing-in: Feb. 6, 2006
Mr. Flaherty is sworn in as finance minister after being elected to federal politics for the first time on Jan. 23. He comes to the federal Conservatives from provincial politics in Ontario, where he served in several cabinet posts, including finance, and made an unsuccessful run for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party.
Drops the GST: May 2, 2006
The first Conservative budget introduced by Mr. Flaherty reduces the GST from 7 per cent to 6 per cent, keeping a campaign promise. The tax is again reduced in 2008, this time to 5 per cent.
Income-trust bombshell: Oct. 31, 2006
Mr. Flaherty imposes a tax on distributions from income trusts. The surprise move breaks a major Conservative campaign promise to avoid taxing trusts but halts a shift that threatened Ottawa’s tax base. The decision wipes out more than $20-billion in stock-market value overnight.
A move to help the disabled: March 19, 2007
Mr. Flaherty, the father of a disabled child, follows through on a promise to help parents of disabled children save for their kids’ futures by including in the 2007 budget the creation of a Registered Disability Savings Plan.
Introduces the TFSA: Feb. 26, 2008
The new budget introduced by Mr. Flaherty includes the introduction of a tax-free savings account that lets Canadians save or invest $5,000 a year for any purpose tax free.
Heads into deficit territory: Nov. 28, 2008
After months of insisting that government financing would remain in a surplus, Mr. Flaherty admits the possibility of a deficit – something he says he is prepared to accept to combat the economic downturn. The budget he introduces a little more than three months later is indeed in the red and the deficit eventually tops $55-billion.
Goodbye to the penny: March 28, 2012
Mr. Flaherty introduces a budget that announces the phasing out of the penny. The Finance Department describes the coin as a “nuisance” in budget documents, and says the 2.35-gram coin is more trouble than it’s worth.
Reveals health problem: Jan. 31, 2013
Mr. Flaherty reveals to The Globe and Mail that he has pemphigoid, a blistering skin disorder that can produce lesions. He explains that it is a rare disease that requires strong steroid treatment.
A ‘balanced’ budget: Feb. 11, 2014
Mr. Flaherty tables a budget that forecasts a $2.9-billion deficit for the upcoming fiscal year – but one that exists only because Ottawa is setting aside $3-billion in case of unexpected emergencies.
Splits on income splitting: Feb. 12, 2014
Mr. Flaherty opens a rift inside the Conservative Party by questioning the merits of delivering on an income-splitting pledge for Canadian families, a key piece of his party’s re-election effort. “I'm not sure that over all it benefits our society,” he says. Two weeks later, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says it is a “good policy.”