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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks at a press conference for the announcement of a First-Time Donor's tax credit at Lutherwood Children's Mental Health Centre in Waterloo Ont., Monday, May 27, 2013.

Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says he has had personal conversations with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, but declined to say whether he offered his friend any advice on dealing with the controversy at City Hall.

Mr. Flaherty – who serves as the senior minister for the Toronto area in the federal cabinet – has had a long and close relationship with the Ford family.

The minister, the mayor and the mayor's brother, Doug Ford, went on a personal weekend trip to Chicago in February.

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During an appearance Monday on CBC's Power and Politics, Mr. Flaherty was asked whether he had spoken with Rob Ford recently. "I've spoken with the mayor and I've spoken with members of his family. I'm very close to the family and I won't comment any further on that," he said.

The minister was asked whether he has given the mayor any advice on how to deal with the recent controversy.

"My discussions with him have been personal, they haven't been about infrastructure or any like that," Mr. Flaherty said.

A spokesperson for Mr. Flaherty declined to provide further comment on the minister's conversations with the mayor when asked by The Globe.

Mr. Flaherty's connections with the Ford family date back to his time in the Ontario legislature in the 1990s, when he worked in the Progressive Conservative caucus with Doug Ford Sr., the mayor's late father, who represented Etobicoke-Humber from 1995 to 1999.

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