Jim Flaherty and Wes Sheridan
P.E.I. Finance Minister Wes Sheridan says he expects the province’s fiscal dealings with Ottawa will not change with the swearing-in of a new federal finance minister.
Sheridan said he was surprised only by the timing of the announcement Tuesday that Jim Flaherty was resigning from cabinet.
“We all kind of saw it coming, that Mr. Flaherty had this in mind. I just wasn’t sure when.”
But now that Joe Oliver – who was previously natural resources minister – has replaced Flaherty as the new finance minister, Sheridan says he expects it will be business as usual with the federal finance department.
“I really don’t see any big change, I think Mr. Flaherty has set this ship on a certain direction and I think the choosing of Mr. Oliver is to provide a stable hand that will come in and continue that same path.”
Sheridan noted 73-year-old Oliver has experience on Bay Street. He worked there as an investment banker for decades before entering public life.
He went on to become executive director of the Ontario Securities Commission and then president of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada.
Sheridan said he plans to send a note to Oliver welcoming him to his new position and also plans to send a note of farewell to Flaherty.
While the two finance ministers were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, Sheridan says he shared good relationship with Flaherty.
“Jim Flaherty has been a steady hand at the helm for my entire seven years (in office) and the year before that. We’ve had a strong personal relationship, we’ve worked on a lot of files together,” Sheridan said.
“We didn’t always agree on every subject matter, but I always had good open discussion with Mr. Flaherty and I’ll miss that.”
Egmont MP and federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said she views her six years serving with Flaherty in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet as a privilege.
“I can honestly say that I believe he is the best finance minister in the world,” Shea said in an emailed statement to The Guardian.
“We have worked closely together on a number of files to ensure that at the end of the day, Islanders had more money in their pockets, less red tape in the way of their businesses, and a steady recovery from the Great Recession. Jim will continue to be a close friend and a great colleague.”
Flaherty managed the country’s economy through one of its worst economic crises in 2008-2009, running up large deficits but leaving the books virtually balanced after his Feb. 11 budget.
He has said his decision to resign was made with his family earlier this year and is unrelated to recent health problems.
Harper named Oliver as his new finance minister in a swearing-in ceremony in Ottawa Wednesday morning. He promoted junior minister Greg Rickford from the role of minister of state to take over the Natural Resources portfolio.
Ed Holder, MP for London West, replaces Rickford as minister of state for science and technology.
With files from the Canadian Press.