Former finance minister Jim Flaherty is dead.
Flaherty suffered a heart attack. Ottawa police confirm they responded to a medical call at Flaherty’s Ottawa condominium at 12:27 pm.
Question Period came to an abrupt end when the news broke on Parliament Hill. Flaherty’s colleagues in all parties hugged and expressed shock and sadness. The House is adjourned until tomorrow.
Flaherty, 64, suffered from a rare skin condition.
He didn’t cite health issues when he stepped down as finance minister March 18, and said he wanted to spend more time with family. Flaherty leaves behind his wife, Ontario MPP Christine Elliott, and three sons John, Galen and Quinn.
“We appreciate that he was so well supported in his public life by Canadians from coast to coast and by his international colleagues,” his family says in a statement.
Flaherty served as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s finance minister from 2006 until 2014, guiding the country through the recession. After resigning from Cabinet this March, he remained member of Parliament for Whitby-Oshawa, Ont.
Harper addressed parliamentarians this afternoon, saying he was saddened about the loss of “our colleague, my partner and my friend,” adding he and his colleagues regarded Flaherty with “a combination of great respect and affection.”
Condolences also poured in from the business community.
“His astute judgment, thoughtful pragmatism and strength of character inspired confidence during a period of profound uncertainty and economic risk,” says John Manley, president and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, in a statement. “We are grateful for Jim Flaherty’s many contributions to Canada and deeply saddened by his untimely passing.”
Perrin Beatty, head of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, tweeted: “He listened attentively, deliberated fairly and led decisively. And he guided Canada’s economy successfully.”
Advocis president and CEO Greg Pollock calls him “an outstanding finance minister” in a release.
Likewise, IIAC President and CEO Ian Russell thanked Flaherty for his 20 years of public service. “I know I speak for the country’s investment industry when I pay tribute to his extraordinary contributions to the health and well-being of our capital markets, economy, and the lives of individual Canadians,” he adds.
Parliamentarians express sadness
NDP leader Tom Mulcair calls Flaherty a strong, tough, character.
“We know that our job asks a lot of us, and Mr. Flaherty was a very, good man,” he says
NDP finance critic Peggy Nash says she and her colleagues are devastated by the news. She praised Flaherty for his commitment to people with disabilities, in particular his creation of the RDSP.
Liberal MP and finance critic Scott Brison says, “Mr. Flaherty not only was a committed and effective public servant, but also a great father.”
Flaherty was a provincial minister under Progressive Conservative premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves before making the jump to federal politics in 2006.
We invite readers to share their recollections of the former Finance Minister in our comments section.