Whitby street named after former MP, finance minister Jim Flaherty

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Published February 22, 2023 at 2:18 pm

Whitby MP Jim Flaherty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2014. via Flaherty's Twitter.

A famous Whitby public servant who served on both the provincial and federal governments is being memorialized with the newly christened Jim Flaherty St.

The Abilities Centre in the town’s south end requested the nearby Gordon St. be renamed north of Victoria St. Flaherty was instrumental in establishing the centre ten years ago which, “serves people living with and without disabilities through programs and services.”

Since the town “supports the naming of streets to recognize an individual, group, or organization that has had a positive impact on the community” the signs went up on Feb. 16. As a result the road bordering Iroquois Park is now Jim Flaherty St.

There are no homes on that section of the road therefore no residents need to change their address. The road south of Victoria St. remains Gordon St.

Flaherty was from Quebec initially, but in university wrote his senior thesis at Princeton University on Whitby’s Camp X beginning his long association with the town.

After graduating from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, he worked as a lawyer for 20 years. He moved to Whitby and started Flaherty McCarthy LLP, as it is now known, alongside his wife Christine Elliott in town.

He first ran to represent the town at the provincial in 1990 when its riding was called Durham Centre, but came in third place. However, following a deeply unpopular NDP-led term, Flaherty’s Progressive Conservatives (PC) swept the 1995 election.

PC leader and then-newly elected Premier Mike Harris tapped Flaherty to be Minister of Labour in 1997. Flaherty was re-elected in 1999 and made Minister of Finance.

In 2002, Flaherty ran to replace Harris (who had resigned) as PC leader on a law-and-order platform, proposing to make homelessness illegal, further cut taxes and privatize the LCBO. He lost his leadership bid to Ernie Eves and was demoted to Minister of Enterprise. However, he was re-elected in 2003.

He tried again for PC leader in 2004, but lost to then-Dufferin County MPP and now-disgraced former Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Next, he resigned his Queen’s Park seat in 2006 and ran to represent the town in Ottawa, ousting the incumbent Liberal Judi Longfield. Elliott won the by-election to replace Flaherty in Queen’s Park, marking the first time a married couple represented the same riding in two levels of government.

After his election to parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper chose Flaherty to shepherd the highly influential Finance portfolio. In this role he brought in Tax-Free Savings Accounts, Registered Disability Savings Plans and abolished the penny among numerous achievements.

He resigned from cabinet on Mar. 14, 2014 to return to the private sector. Despite ongoing health concerns, Flaherty stressed his condition was not a factor in his decision.

He remained in Whitby’s parliamentary seat until his death by heart attack three weeks later on Apr 10. He was 64 years old.

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