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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks at Toronto's Ryerson University on Aug. 31, 2011. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks at Toronto's Ryerson University on Aug. 31, 2011. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

History Lesson

Jim Flaherty puts his walking shoes on for Sir John A. Add to ...

Jim Flaherty is about to take a break from fretting over the Canada-U.S. price gap and the fragile global economy to play political historian to a select few.

Who knew? The Finance Minister is a big fan of Canada’s first prime minister and he’s agreed to conduct a walking tour in Kingston of Sir John A. Macdonald’s old haunts.

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More than that, Mr. Flaherty will cut the ribbon to officially open Sir John A’ s Public House, which is a new restaurant on the former site of Macdonald’s law offices in the Eastern Ontario city. He worked there between 1849 and 1860.

The Finance Minister “often quotes Sir John A. in speeches when he’s talking about our plan to Canada’s economy forward in the 21st century,” Flaherty spokesman Chisolm Pothier told The Globe, “when Sir John A exhorted his colleagues to ‘Look a little ahead my friends.’”

Mr. Pothier noted that his boss is “very cognizant of Canadian political history” and even called one of his summer policy retreats “Looking a Little Ahead” in a nod to Macdonald. He also peppers his speeches with references to other past prime ministers, carefully tailoring his references to where they were from.

“In a speech in Calgary on a Canadian Securities Regulator, not the most popular place for that message, he extensively cited former prime minister and Calgary MP R.B. Bennett, who called for a national securities regulator throughout his political career,” Mr. Pothier recalled.

“Similarly, in a speech earlier this year in Halifax he cited former Halifax lawyer and PM Robert Borden on coming out of an economic crisis and looking to strengthen the economy as Canada went forward.”

Mr. Flaherty’s interest in history mirrors that of the Prime Minister, who is focusing his government on historical anniversaries and events.

Space, meanwhile, is limited for the 90-minute Sept. 29 walking tour. Tickets are $40 a person with the proceeds going to the non-partisan, non-profit Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial Commission, which was established last year to raise funds and encourage Canadians to mark the 200th anniversary of Macdonald’s birth in 2015.

The initiative is headed by Arthur Milnes, an author and researcher. He’ll be helping Mr. Flaherty with the tour as he did last summer, when TVO’s Steve Paikin and Bob Rae, now Interim Liberal Leader, conducted similar walking excursions.

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