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Jim Flaherty (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)
Jim Flaherty (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)

The Lunch

Lunch with Jim Flaherty Add to ...

Though he's an old hat at the campaigning life, he's still willing to try the occasional new tactic. The previous day he was talked into using Twitter for the first time. He wasn't a convert.

"I did one tweet," he says. The tweet was: First local debate tomorrow at Sinclair Secondary School - regular election event and usually lively forum in Whitby.

"I thought it was a fairly boring thing to say," he says. "And it appears to have been accepted as very boring because there has not been a lot of response."

Mr. Flaherty notes that Industry Minister Tony Clement is constantly tweeting. "And I'm like 'who cares.'"

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CURRICULUM VITAE

Before politics

Born Dec. 30, 1949, in Lachine, Que.

Graduated from Princeton University, and Osgoode Hall Law School

Called to the bar in Ontario and practised law for more than two decades.

In Ontario

Elected MPP in 1995 for Whitby-Ajax.

Held posts that included minister of labour, minister of finance and deputy premier.

In Ottawa

In 2006, became the member of Parliament for Whitby-Oshawa and finance minister.

In 2009, Euromoney magazine named him "Finance Minister of the Year."

Family

Wife is Christine Elliott, the MPP for Whitby-Oshawa.

Triplet sons, one of whom is studying at McGill University and whom Mr. Flaherty invites to dinner when he's in Montreal. "He shows up usually with four or five rugby-slash-football friends. They just want free steak and beer … They want to go to the Keg, that's where you get lots."

Advice to business leaders

"Get out and sell to the emerging economies as quickly as you can … [and also]we still want to see more spending on new machinery and equipment."

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IN HIS OWN WORDS

On his best job ever:

The best job I ever had was when I was 19. I didn't have a summer job and I was coming home from Princeton … and they offered me this job as a waterfront director at this camp in rural Quebec because they were bringing in sailboats that someone had donated. And so I took the job, delivered the sails, and I didn't realize until I got there that it was an all-girls camp with all girls as staff and I was the only guy. This was the best job ever.

On why he now skates on the Rideau Canal rather than playing hockey:

I still have my teeth. I don't want to lose them at age 61 in some hockey game.

On what keeps him up at night:

What worries me is the next time we have a crisis it will probably happen even more quickly than the last time. Partly because of Dodd-Frank [law]in the United States which gives the U.S. government the power to move in quickly and take over financial institutions, which causes concern on Wall Street. So that if they perceive any particular financial institution might be taken over overnight, you've got to get out quick. And they can get out quick now with electronic trading.

On the dollar:

I remember being in the Ontario Legislature and the Liberals yelling over at me about the fact that the dollar was rising and that was bad for business and didn't I realize that. And I thought "what are you talking about?" The value of the currency in part, large part, reflects the world's view of the state of our economy. So the world now looks at us more positively than they did. Also, of course, the weakness in the U.S. economy, there's a relativity there. When I went to Princeton in the 1960s the Canadian dollar was $1.05 (U.S.), so I don't have any problem with the currency being around parity. Obviously there would be a problem if the currency were to spike up as it did a couple of years ago.

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