Flaherty brought decency to politics
Former finance minister Jim Flaherty is pictured in this March 18, 2008 file photo during a meeting with the Toronto Sun editorial board. (Ernest Doroszuk/QMI Agency)
Jim Flaherty was the kind of politician we need more of in Canada, which makes his sudden and untimely passing Thursday at age 64, reportedly due to a massive heart attack, all the more shocking and profound.
He was hard-working and good at his job.
One of the longest-serving finance ministers in Canadian history, he helped Prime Minister Stephen Harper steer us through the devastating impact of the 2008 global recession.
He was calm in the crisis. He steadied the nation.
He spoke plainly about what needed to be done.
He reassured us and his presence was reassuring.
In large part, as a result of his efforts, Canada came through that unprecedented period of international turmoil with one of the best economic records in the world.
That's a legacy of which any politician can be proud.
We hope it will be a comfort to his wife, Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Christine Elliott, and to his triplet sons John, Galen and Quinn.
To them we extend our sincere condolences on behalf of our readers.
Finally, there was something else about Flaherty we need more of in politics these days.
He wasn't a hyper-partisan. He was pragmatic. He didn't hate the opposition parties.
He was respected on all sides of the House of Commons, as could be seen in the moving comments and tears shed for him in Ottawa, not just by Conservatives.
Flaherty could give as good as he got in Question Period. He was no shrinking violet.
But he knew how to disagree without being disagreeable and how to compromise when it was in the national interest.
That's what our politics needs more of today. At a time when it's becoming meaner and more partisan, Flaherty brought a sense of common cause and decency to it.
Life isn't always fair. After long and successful careers in both Ontario and federal Conservative politics, and on the road to recovery from a painful skin-blistering condition he had spoken publicly about in recent months, Flaherty announced his retirement just three weeks ago.
He was looking forward to spending more time with his family and returning to the private sector.
He should have had more time. But the time he did have, he used well.