Canadian Manufacturing

Former finance minister Jim Flaherty has died

A tenacious, effective and dedicated politician who reached across the aisle. No word yet on cause

OTTAWA—Former finance minister Jim Flaherty died suddenly on Thursday, less than a month after quitting the cabinet.

His family said he died peacefully.

“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,” said the statement issued on behalf of Christine Elliott and her triplet sons, John, Galen and Quinn

The House of Commons abruptly suspended its sitting before question period began as word of the death spread. Opposition MPs flooded across the aisle to offer condolences to Flaherty’s colleagues.

The Ontario legislature also held a moment’s silence for Flaherty and then took a recess.

Former Liberal MP Bob Rae tweeted: “Saddened to hear that Jim Flaherty has died. He was a tenacious, effective and dedicated politician who reached across the aisle.”

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said she was shocked to hear the news.

“That’s a real loss for our country,” she said.

“Jim Flaherty returned our country to a balanced budget. I can tell you from experience, that’s really hard to do, it takes a lot of tough decisions. He was man of character, that’s a terrible loss for Canada.”

Earlier, emergency vehicles were seen parked in front of Flaherty’s downtown Ottawa condo building.

Until his unexpected departure in mid-March, Flaherty was the Harper government’s first and only finance minister.

He got the job in 2006 and held it through cabinet shuffles, economic turmoil and a bout with a rare skin disease that had him on steroids.

The condition was not thought to be life-threatening at the time.

Flaherty began his political career at the provincial level, serving in a variety of cabinet portfolios in Ontario before making the jump to the Commons.

He became an MP in 2006 as Prime Minister Stephen Harper formed his first government. Flaherty became Finance minister.

As minister, he presided over a series of tax cuts and then ran huge deficits as recession swept the world in 2009.

But he vowed the he would staunch the flow of red ink and get the budget balanced by the next election in 2015.

His last budget, delivered shortly before his resignation, put him within easy reach of balance. But he died before the budget could turn to surplus.

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