Jim Flaherty’s personal touch was a rarity on Parliament Hill: Greg Weston
Jim Flaherty was promising improvements to a federal disability savings plan that helps parents of special needs children when the tears started welling behind his glasses, a few drops at first, then more and more until the nation’s finance minister was openly sobbing on live television.
“The politician lost to the parent on that one,” he later told a friend.
Thursday, it was his critics’ turn to cry.
One after another, opposition MPs who have made a career of publicly savaging Flaherty across the floor of the Commons were dissolving in tearful grief over the sudden death of a man they now call a friend.
It was an extraordinary sight rarely seen in Canadian politics, MPs of all political stripes clearly mourning more than the loss of a fellow parliamentarian.
In Jim Flaherty, their loss seemed deeply personal.
NDP MP Charlie Angus, a well-known Commons scrapper, started to tell a story about Flaherty, but fell apart in tears before he could finish.
Liberal finance critic Ralph Goodale said Flaherty had the extraordinary ability to get into a no-holds-barred donnybrook in Parliament “but somehow managed to leave you more chuckling than angry.”
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said tearfully: “I disagreed with his policies, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t very, very fond of him.”
One of Flaherty’s long-time loyal aides, Chisholm Pothier, says in many ways the affable former finance minister was “an old-style politician,” a throwback to the days when MPs could be foes in the Commons and still be friends at the bar.
Pothier says Flaherty wouldn’t hesitate to invite one of the opposition finance critics out for a drink. He liked most of them. And they liked him. (Source: CBC News)