Central Okanagan  

Remembering Jim Flaherty

Jim Flaherty is being fondly remembered today.

The 64-year-old former federal finance minister died suddenly at his home in Ottawa Thursday, at the age of 64.

Word of his death prompted a halt to question period in the House of Commons.

Reached in Ottawa, Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas says Flaherty's death deeply shocked the Conservative caucus and MPs from both sides of the house.

"We stopped debate in the house today. All sides, everyone got up and shared our appreciation for Jim and our common sadness at his sudden passing," said Albas.

"There were a lot of tears."

Flaherty was named finance minister in February 2006 and held the position until stepping down last month for family reasons.

Albas says he will remember Flaherty as a 'happy warrior,' who was above partisan politics and committed to public service.

"He gave the country a lot of leadership and a cool hand behind the finances when we needed it.

He always listened to people - what they had to say was important to him even though he was probably the second most powerful man in Ottawa and probably just as busy."

Albas says whenever he brought concerns to Flaherty, they were promptly addressed.

"I remember a constituent raised a question about pre-paid credit cards and somewhat shady fees for it. I brought it to Mr. Flaherty's attention and within six months there was regulation on that," said Albas.

"In Ottawa it takes a lot to get things done and it takes a lot when you have everyone who wants a piece of your time."

Albas says Flaherty was intensely fair with everybody.

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan is also sharing his thoughts and heartbreak over the sudden passing of former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Cannan says he was just getting up to speak today in the House when a colleague leaned over and told him Minister Flaherty had been taken to emergency by ambulance.

“By the time I finished speaking another colleague told me he had passed away,” said Cannan in disbelief.

Cannan was set to have a meeting with the Prime Minister and others but all activities were stopped as the news made the rounds and PM Harper went to prepare a statement.

Cannan headed to the airport.

“I was at the Ottawa airport and Thomas Mulcair and I were chatting about how he was just a gentleman who got a great deal of respect from all political parties,” said Cannan.

“Lots of spirit, I always remember what an approachable, humble and fun family man he was.”

Cannan says Flaherty was a caring compassionate Canadian with a big heart and strong conservative values.

“He had a great sense of humour, some of it self-deprecating you know, a great Irishman. His trademark was his green tie and he always celebrated St. Patricks day with great vigour,” fondly remembered Cannan.

Cannan sent his thoughts and prayers to Flaherty's wife and three sons in their early twenties.

“Young sons who lost their dad too soon, far too young, he is only 64,” said Cannan. “Hug your loved ones today.”

“There is nothing like the sudden loss of someone so special to remind of the fragility of life, live each day to its fullest.”

The house will resume sitting Friday and Albas expects a lot of Question Period will be taken up with remembrances of Jim Flaherty.


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