Jim Flaherty, Canada’s long-serving Finance Minister until he stepped down last month, died yesterday. Flaherty suffered a massive heart attack shortly after noon and, despite the efforts of paramedics and a fellow MP, he was pronounced dead later in the afternoon.
As the news broke, partisanship fell away, as people from all spots on the political spectrum paid tribute to Flaherty. The House of Commons, in session at the time, was suspended and opposition members crossed to floor to offer condolences to Conservatives. It was quite a sight.
Flaherty is survived by his wife, Ontario MPP Christine Elliot, and their three sons.
At times like these, tributes to the recently-departed are expected. We expect people to put aside political grudges and make nice, and we are certainly seeing this now. However, there is a clear sense-backed up by much testimony-that Flaherty was truly liked and appreciated by all politicians, as well as the press who covered them. The grief is sincere, and though the loss is tragic, the display of humanity is beautiful.
Perhaps that’s the best tribute to be given.
Flaherty leaves a mixed record (as all politicians will), but he was, for the most part, successful as Finance Minister. The Canadian economy took a beating from the economic collapse of 2008, but not nearly the beating it could have. Generally speaking, his stewardship was sound, and the respect he garnered from colleagues around the world is testament to that.
I have no grand insights, so I will offer the following links for people who would like to learn more about the man and his legacy:
- Paul Wells talks about Flaherty’s rise to prominence and the example he sets for all of us.
- Robert Brenzie writes about Flaherty’s life in and out of politics.
- Former NDP Premier and Liberal MP Bob Rae says his goodbyes.
- John Ivison remarks on the sincerity of the tributes paid to Flaherty.
- Jordan Chittley writes about Jim Flaherty, champion for the disabled. A role many of us never knew he had.
- Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, a doctor, was mentored by Flaherty. She was also the first one to attempt to revive him.
- Blair Gable gives us a photo gallery of Jim Flaherty.
- As does Andrew Tolson.
- Here is video of Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and NDP MP MP Peggy Nash offering their thoughts.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim Flaherty’s family, friends and colleagues.
Rest in peace.