Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Flaherty Earned Canada's Thanks

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Flaherty Earned Canada's Thanks

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Flaherty earned Canada's thanks

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An editorial from the Waterloo Region Record, published March 20:

To judge how well someone played a game of cards you need to know what hands they were dealt. So it is with federal finance ministers like Jim Flaherty, who this week resigned his cabinet portfolio after eight tumultuous years in one of the toughest and most important jobs in the country.

Boom times, sunny times of bounty with a surging gross domestic product and rising wages can make anyone managing Canada's finances look both wise and good -- just like a royal flush usually makes any gambler a winner.

Tough times, when the economy and employment rates tank, when factories are closing, mortgages are being foreclosed and people are worried about losing everything, shine the spotlight, and put the heat, on whoever's managing Canada's fiscal books.

These, then, are the lousy cards Flaherty was dealt -- and played like a master. In the fall of 2008, 2 ½ years after he became finance minister, the world was rocked by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Suddenly, and on his watch, the financial foundations for the global economy seemed ready to crumble. Much of North America's vital auto industry seemed on the brink of collapse.

In Canada, much depended on what the federal government, but especially Flaherty, did. Judged by the actions he took, Flaherty should be remembered as a great finance minister. In October 2008, and working with then-U.S. treasury secretary Hank Paulson and then-Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke, Flaherty helped devise the Five Point Plan that committed the major economies to support the financial institutions in danger of failing and triggering global depression.

In Canada, he spent the next two years injecting massive government stimulus into the sclerotic economy. In so doing, he rang up the biggest deficits in Canadian history. But his actions mitigated the harm caused by the recession and nursed the economy back to health. …

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