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Canada Names Keystone XL Advocate Oliver As New Finance Minister


OTTAWA, March 19 (Reuters) - Joe Oliver, a veteran banker and former energy minister who championed the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, was namedCanada's new finance minister on Wednesday, signaling a stay-the-course approach to fiscal and economic policy.

"I just named Joe Oliver Canada's new finance minister," Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper wrote on his official Twitter. "He will continue to strengthen the economy and balance the budget by 2015."

Oliver takes over after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced his resignation from the Conservative cabinet on Tuesday after eight years in the job. He was the third longest-serving finance minister in Canadian history and had vowed not to step down until he was certain the federal budget deficit was eliminated.

Montreal-born Oliver is a graduate of the Harvard School of Business and has extensive experience in the investment banking industry, working at Merrill Lynchearlier in his career and as executive director of the Ontario Securities Commission. He later became chief executive officer of the Investment Dealers Association ofCanada (IDA).

At 73, he is one of the oldest cabinet ministers and he has leap-frogged over some younger stars in key portfolios even though he was first elected to office less than three years ago.

As the minister responsible for natural resources since May 2011, Oliver has been cabinet's biggest advocate of TransCanada Corp's controversial proposal to build the Keystone XL pipeline to take Alberta oil sands crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

He has clashed with environmentalists, at one point blasting those opposed to Enbridge Inc's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in Western Canada as foreign-funded "radicals".