Joe Oliver named Canada's new finance minister

TORONTO (AP) -- Joe Oliver has been sworn in as Canada's new finance minister, a day after Jim Flaherty resigned after eight years on the job.

Oliver had served as Natural Resources Minister and had been Canada's point man on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which the Canadian government is urging the Obama administration to approve. He has an MBA from Harvard and worked as an investment banker with Merrill Lynch. He has also served as the executive director of the Ontario Securities Commission.

Harper made the announcement on Twitter Wednesday. He may prefer Oliver, 73, because he is not a considered a potential candidate to one day replace the prime minister, unlike some other Cabinet ministers.

Flaherty, who had the job since 2006, has been a fixture on world financial stage. He said he is returning to the private sector. He was the longest-serving finance minister among the Group of Seven leading industrial economies. The 64-year-old battled a rare skin disease over the last year, but he said his decision to leave politics is not related.

Flaherty has been Prime Minister Stephen Harper's only finance minister since Harper took power eight years ago. Harper's Conservative government plans on entering an election next year with a budget surplus. Flaherty has said his goal was always to get Canada back on track to a balanced budget after pumping stimulus money into the economy following the 2008 financial crisis.

Harper said he had accepted Flaherty's decision "with great reluctance." Flaherty is the third-longest serving finance minister in the country's history.

Junior minister Greg Rickford succeeds Oliver at Natural Resources.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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