The pre-Trudeau generation of Canadian politics produced two outstanding finance ministers, Paul Martin and Jim Flaherty.
Each helped navigate Canada through a rough patch; Martin slew the deficit dragon, Flaherty ably fought the Great Recession.
In a period during which power was increasingly centralized in the Prime Minister’s Office, Martin and Flaherty maintained separation. There was no guarantee they would get what they wanted, but Bay Street, Calgary and Montreal could be sure that there was at least a counterweight to the partisans and crusaders who formed the majority at cabinet.
This dynamic was good for the country because it instilled confidence with business leaders, who, love them or hate them, are necessary for making the economy run. Unfortunately, it hasn’t existed since Flaherty resigned from Stephen Harper’s government in March 2014, a few weeks before his death. I think it’s one of the reasons that Ottawa and the Canadian Establishment are so out of tune these days.
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