Jim Flaherty, one of Canada's longest-serving finance ministers, who died suddenly Thursday April 10, will be remembered as a man of principle who helped steer the Canadian finances through a calamitous global economic crisis. Flaherty resigned in a surprise move last month following an eight-year tenure overseeing Canada's Finance Ministry. He said his decision was not because of health reasons but because he planned to pave the way for a re-entry to the private sector.
In January 2013, Flaherty announced he had Bullous Pemphigoid (BP), a skin disease that would require treatment. BP is a rare condition, and there are no definitive statistics on how prevalent it is. The disease causes large, fluid-filled blisters on areas of the skin that often flex, such as the lower abdomen and upper thighs. Flaherty died of a massive heart attack on April 10, 2014 in Ottawa at the age of 64.
His Life Story
Flaherty was born on December 30, 1949 in Lachine, Quebec, the son of Mary (née Harquail), who was from a "prosperous family", and Edwin Benedict Flaherty, an entrepreneur and chemist. His parents were from New Brunswick, his father from Loggieville and his mother from Campbellton. He was the sixth of eight children. He attended Bishop Whelan High School and Loyola High School, Montreal. Flaherty attended Princeton University on a hockey scholarship where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then received a Bachelor of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. He practised law for 20 year before formally entering politics in 1995. He was a founding partner of Flaherty Dow Elliott after splitting from Gilbert Wright and Flaherty. Flaherty Dow Elliot & McCarthy LLP, as it is now known, is a law firm specializing in motor vehicle accident and personal injury litigation.
Those familiar with Flaherty's work as a lawyer noted his dogged determination and a strong work ethic. He assisted in several volunteer causes, including being the president of the Head Injury Association of Durham Region in Ontario.
His widow, Christine Elliott, is the Progressive Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament for Whitby in Oshawa, east of Toronto. The couple lived in Whitby with their triplet sons John, Galen and Quinn, who were born in 1991.
Jim Flaherty was Canada's federal Minister of Finance (2006–2014) and also a former provincial Minister of Finance for Ontario (2001–2002). From 1995 until 2005, he was the Member of Provincial Parliament for Whitby in Ajax, and a member of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party caucus and unsuccessfully sought the leadership of the provincial party on two occasions.
Flaherty won the riding of Whitby in the federal election held January 23, 2006 as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada narrowly beating Liberal incumbent Judi Longfield. He was re-elected in 2008 and 2011.
When he stepped down last month, Flaherty said: “We live in the greatest country in the world, and I want Canadians to know that it has been my honour and my privilege to serve them”.
Some Remarks about Him
1. “We appreciate that he was so well-supported in his public life by Canadians from coast to coast to coast and by his international colleagues”: Statement on behalf of Flaherty’s wife, Christine Elliott, and their sons, John, Galen and Quinn
2. “Today is a very sad day for me, for our government and for all of our country. ... Jim will be sorely missed”: Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper
3. “As minister of finance, Mr. Flaherty served his country with dedication and conviction, even as he faced mounting health challenges. As both a man and a politician, I will remember him for his pleasant demeanour and strength of character”: Canada's NDP Leader Tom Mulcair
4. “This is a loss to the entire family in the House of Commons”: Canada's Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau
5. “He was a rare partisan, able to extend a mischievous twinkle to a rejoinder in Question Period”: Canada's Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
6. “As the guiding force of 10 federal budgets, Jim never wavered in his abiding commitment to build a better country for all Canadians, a legacy that will ensure his memory as one of Canada’s great statesmen”: Canada's Finance Minister Joe Oliver
7. “An Irish lion is gone”: Canada's Treasury Board President Tony Clement
“The lyrical Irish spirit, gritty and gregarious, the fighter, the loyal friend. RIP”: Canada's Employment Minister Jason Kenney
8. “I’m a little mad as well as sad because this is a man who deserved the next 10 or 20 years after everything he’s given”: Canada's Former Ontario premier Mike Harris
9. “Flaherty would be remembered for his years of public service federally and provincially. An authentic and genuine individual with a deep love of family, community and country, he has made a significant difference to Canada and the world”: Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua
10. Former Canada's Liberal interim leader Bob Rae, who crossed swords with Flaherty many times during question period in the Ontario Legislature and on Parliament Hill, said although Flaherty was deeply partisan, he made friends across the aisle. "I worked with his wife, Christine, in charitable work in Toronto and got to know Jim very well. As things passed, we got to know each other socially a bit," he said, adding that "Jim sent me the kindest note when I left politics".
11 & 12. At a routine speech about the disability assistance plan in 2011, Flaherty was visibly moved, fighting back tears as he discussed the plan and the challenges that parents of disabled children face. One of Flaherty's sons, John, has a mental disability and shared an interest in baseball with his father. The former minister was also a father figure of sorts for younger Canada's Conservative MPs. Kellie Leitch considered him to be a mentor, as did James Rajotte, chair of the Canada's House standing committee on finance. In a statement, Leitch credited Flaherty with getting her into politics, describing him as her "champion". "Canada has lost a giant and our our government has lost one of its most respected and capable members," she said.
1. Some of the views expressed by late Jim Flaherty interested the News Media in Iran. Here are two examples:
Fars News: http://www.farsnews.com/printable.php?nn=13900823000817
Euron News: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PDIN_ALF18
2. One of the great accomplishments by late Jim Flaherty was possibly the abolishing of the penny in Canada. While announcing Economic Action Plan 2012 on March 29 in the Canada's House of Commons, Flaherty explained that, by February 2013, the government would be phasing out the penny. The cost to produce each new penny was 1.6 cents, which exceeded the penny's face value by 0.6 cents. The estimated savings for taxpayers from phasing out the penny is reported to be about $11 million a year.
May he rest in peace.
Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD