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Flickr: Stephen Harper

7 things about Jim Flaherty and why do I care?

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Jim Flaherty

Flickr: Stephen Harper

Okay there’s always a few partisan naysayers in every crowd, but I’d have to say that pretty much all Canadians were stunned and saddened this week by the sudden death of the Former Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, from a massive heart attack on Thursday.

Flaherty suffered from a painful skin condition called bullous pemphigoid, and although no longer considered a fatal disease, there is speculation that the side effects of this steroid medications may have precipitated the heart impacts.  He definitely appeared to be suffering a lot more in recent years, and when he announced his sudden resignation to return to private live just 3 weeks earlier, his health was at the top of everyone’s concern, even though it was said to not be the reason for his departure.

Without further ado, here are Debt Debs 7 things she wants to say on this topic – some quirky, all personal finance related, of course, or personal or finance … we’re not going to get too picky today… after all, we’re grieving.

Item 1 – TFSA people!!!

Jim brought in our beloved TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) in the 2008 budget, effective January 2, 2009.   Some people say it as the four letter acronym T-F-S-A and some pronounce it “TIF-SA”.  This tax savings vehicle allows your money to grow and not be taxed on that growth, regardless of when you withdraw the money.  A TFSA is similar but not identical to Roth IRA’s in the US and Individual Savings Accounts in the UK.

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Okay so I pretty much wrote a whole post on this one topic alone, so I have cut and pasted it for a future date.  That’s kind of a side benefit spin-off of this whole blogging thing.  You start to research something to support your inner monologue in your head and voila… you have learned a lot and you have a whole other post that is entirely too long to include here on a discrete topic that you can save for a rainy day.  Yup, that’s why I do this.

Item 2 – Registered Disability Savings Plan is a good thing … I think

In 2007, the RDSP was brought in by Jim Flaherty.  Ashamedly, I know nothing about this, and I should.  One of my children is on disability for severe OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and social anxiety.  (Yes, it has been a bit all consuming for us the last 7 years and may be a part of why we fell off the money management band wagon).  So I need to  research this for her sake and I will provide my views in a future post.

What I have heard in the news media, is that one of the Flahertys’ sons has autism, and this may be a reason to spur our former finance minister to put in place programs like this to help the nation’s disadvantaged.   I hope everyone is for that.  And for personal reasons, I do understand Mr. Flaherty’s as well.

2007: Introduces the Registered Disability Savings Plan to help Canadians with disabilities and their families save for retirement. One of Flaherty’s three sons has a mental disability and the minister wept openly when he announced the plan.

Item 3 – Bye Bye Penny!  It’s good to see you go!

 

Canadian Penny 2012AKA, don’t let the door hit your a$$ on the way out.  (OK, that’s just funny in my head)

In order to save $11 million for Canada, on March 29 2012, as part of the country’s Economic Action Plan 2012,  Flaherty announced that the penny would meet it’s eventual demise with a plan to start in February 2013 (Last penny was made May 4, 2012) .  The ‘nuisance’ coin was too costly to produce at 1.6 ¢ (60% over it’s own net worth! Poor Penny.)   Prices would not be impacted, but only a  methodology to support how to round up or round down the final transaction amounts for cash purchases only.

I think it’s worked out well.  (What do I know?  I never pay cash anymore. )  The nickle may be next.

Item 4 – GST (Goods and Services Tax) – Where’d it go?

Seems so long ago (January 1, 2008), that the National GST rate went down to 5% (it had moved from 7% to 6% for a short time period), but it was part of Jim Flaherty’s work.  It appears as of this time last year some thought it wasn’t good for Canada, but I see no damning evidence of that.  The budget will be balanced and deficit will be gone in 2015, and that’s 6 years after the economic downturn of 2009.  My plan is six years too.

In the province of Ontario, we still have it, but it’s been replaced by HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) which incorporates the PST (former Provincial Sales Tax of 8% [who remembers when PST was 7%?]) with the GST 5% for a total HST of 13%.  Timings for every province are all here folks – read if your planning to move to Canada.

So ya, the GST is not gone, it’s just buried.  Or you could look at it like it entered into a common-law relationship with it’s partner, PST.

Item 5 – Income Splitting – wait, I need all mine!

Income splitting is a part of the platform promised by the Tories (Conservative Party of Canada – CPC) when elected May 2, 2011 with a majority government.  AKA Income Sharing, this concept is supposed to ensure that couples earning different amounts but with the same total income are taxed similarly as couples earning the same amounts.

We heard in the media that Flaherty was no longer in favour of it, but since it was part of what the CPC’s were elected to deliver,  Prime Minister Harper would likely not renege on this campaign promise.

I don’t know a lot about it or why Flaherty no longer liked this proposal, so I need to do more research and report back later.   [Cheesus, church lady, not another thing you don’t know nuthin’ about!]  Plus now I’m curious, because I want to know what is my preference, and I hope you (Canadians) do too!

Item 6 – Frugal Parenting – my new quest :-)

Not only was Jim Flaherty Canada’s Finance minister for 8 years, he was also finance mentor to his 3 sons (My Three Sons – dog, I used to love that show.  Fun Fact I didn’t know – Ernie was originally a foster kid, and the original 3 sons were Mike, Robbie and Chip – here’s the episode where Mike gets married and then moves out East and Ernie comes into the picture.  All the episodes are on you.tube – what fun!).

Here’s the advice Jim had for his triplets back in 2010 with Debt Debs snarky remarks for good measure:

  1. Education is important - well that or training in a trade.  Not everyone needs to go to university.  I always say as long as you’re happy and can support yourself and any offspring and dogs and cats you bring into this world, off you go.
  2. Spend less than you earn - oh.my.dog, he was reading PF blogs wasn’t he?  Because, without a word of a lie, I don’t think I’ve heard that concept until I started reading them.  Novel concept, isn’t it?
  3. Buy property (but pay off your mortgage ASAP) – tax free gains on principal residences, what more could you ask for?  But pay off that mortgage and don’t keep adding to it!!!  Do as I say, not as I …. did.   Sheeeshhh
  4. Be frugal – oh.my.blog I always liked him but now I love(d) him.

Item 7 – Quirky Personal Coincidences

Flaherty tabled the 2014 budget on February 7, my father’s birthday.  He announced his resignation March 18 (my Mum’s birthday) and died on April 10 (my mother-in-law’s birthday).  He died at 64, same age as my aunt, both never getting to see that 65 year milestone, so important in our culture.  He shares Irish heritage with me, commonly wearing a green tie in most public appearances.  I have a green car for the same reason.  

In Canada, there is a long standing tradition since 1966 when the country was 99 years old, that the Finance minister should wear new shoes when he announces the new budget to Parliament.  I’ve known about this since I was a child, coming from a politically-minded family,  however, I was surprised to read that not all Finance ministers have upheld this tradition, not even Mr. Flaherty for a few of his budgets.

But alas, here he is in 2012 buying his new shoes.  At one minute in he picks up a pair of green high top sneakers, laughing, wondering if he should get those.  So cute.  I have one mini green high top sneaker key chain hanging from my rear view mirror in my little green car.

*To view this video on YouTube Click here

RIP, Mr. Flaherty.  My sincere condolences to your family, Christine Elliot, John, Quinn, Galen and extended family and friends.

The Million Dollar Diva

This post is part of the Financially Savvy Saturdays blog hop.  Click on the link above and check out some others.

You know you want to. ;-)

   

Author: debster

I am a fifty-something wife, mother and new grandmother, who admits to having their “head in the sand” about their financial situation until amassing $247,500 worth of consumer debt for a total debt of $393,500. We've paid $121K in 2 years with four more years to go. Join my journey at debtdebs.com sharing ideas and motivation to all those coping with poor money management and bad debt decisions.

13 thoughts on “7 things about Jim Flaherty and why do I care?

  1. I don’t know much about this guy, but from what I’ve read, he sounds like he was a great guy with huge amounts of common sense. It surely seems there will be a hole in Canada now where his wisdom once touched so many. Our condolences. :-(

    • Thank you, Laurie. I think he was able to understand the potential impacts and apply the right approach needed (some government spending) to help Canada avoid the worst of the recession, even though the agenda was initially to eliminate the deficit. Apply the right tactic at the right time is not something that all politicians get right, unfortunately.

  2. Wow – I knew I liked Flaherty, but writing it all out like that; he did some great things for our Country. I sure would be interested in reading more about the income splitting; we’re not there yet, but probably in the next year or two my hubby and I sure could benefit from something like that.

    • Hi Jessie and thanks for visiting!

      Yes, it sounds like it would be a good thing, but then I wonder why Flaherty was not so keen. Could just be rumour and innuendo, though.

  3. I didn’t know he brought in the TFSA? Well that alone makes him amazing! So sad how he retired then passed away shortly after though.

  4. It’s a split vote for me. On one hand I think he was a cheerful guy, nice person. But I’m not so keen on his record. I don’t like that our debt was raised by 33% from $450 billion to just over $600 billion. It’s nice to say you’re a fiscal conservative, but it has no basis in reality when you explode the debt.

    I like the RDSP. Great idea. The only problem is that just 2% of disabled folks have signed up for it because it’s hard for disabled folks and families with disabled folks to find an extra $200/month to put in that account for decades on end, particularly with the fact that our government has refused to raise the disability benefit, which at most amounts to $14,000/year for “totally disabled” people. It’s a policy so far that only works if you’re from a family with means. I like that the gov’t chips into it, but I think it would be better if they raised the benefit amount.

    I think that is Flaherty’s greatest achievement while I think lowering corporate tax rates by 33% ended up blowing up our debt. When we give our cable/internet/cellphone and banking institutions a 33% tax cut, the studies show they sit on the accumulated wealth when the hope was that they’d invest in Canadian jobs. On the other hand, had we lowered the tax burden on regular Canadians by 33% instead, that would mean about $40-50 extra bucks a week for the common guy like me, and those studies show that we put that money right back into the economy.

    But that’s all policy stuff. And even though I disagreed with him on pretty much everything, Flaherty was a Conservative a personally liked. R.I.P.

    • Thanks for reading and weighing in Jason! You make some good points and have personal experience in these areas, which is always important for perspective.

      I bawled watching the funeral today. Never saw that coming. I was surprised how personally touched I was seeing the tributes and witnessing the family deal with their grief. The green scarves and ties and lights was a fun and friendly touch.

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  6. It’s interesting how in the US we don’t hear a whole lot about Canadian government officials. Sounds like Jim Flaherty implemented some really good policy in Canada. I’m sorry to hear of his passing.

    • Thanks David. Yes, when I travel to the US it’s hard to get any news of Canada LOL, so I know exactly what you speak of.

      Thank you for dropping by :-)

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