Hon. Jim Flaherty

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to speak this morning and say a few words in tribute to our extraordinary colleague, Jim Flaherty.

I think many of us have only rarely experienced a moment such as yesterday, when all partisanship faded away and we absorbed the shocking news of the death of someone we knew and loved. It was so unexpected, and I know the word has been used recently, unfair. We all know that we are all mortal, and we cannot really judge the fairness of a moment. We just know that all of us felt in our hearts that Jim Flaherty deserved his retirement and deserved the rest he so richly deserved.

As my colleague from Kings—Hants mentioned, only recently have we been sharing stories of how much he was suffering and how he persevered. What an extraordinary work ethic, to refuse to take time for his own rest when he was dealing with a condition that was painful, difficult, and exhausting for him. However, he did not put himself first; he put his country first.

One of the moments I did not know about, and one of the sides of his personality, so it does not surprise me at all, was hearing yesterday from the Green Party candidate for Whitby—Oshawa, Rebecca Harrison, who was completely broken up. She had shared with him, she said, some laughs after all-candidates meetings. He would stay and share laughs and ask her out for a beer. Such kindness, such humanity. He was ultimately someone who loved other people so much that he put partisanship aside so that we could know what it was like to enjoy a joke with Jim, and he did enjoy his jokes.

Yesterday, when I went across the aisle to console the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, she said, “I was just going to send him this joke I found online. I thought he’d love it”. His sense of humour is what will stay with me, as will his compassion and his public service.

I will not trespass any longer on all of our shared grief. I want to extend my condolences to Christine, to his sons, John, Galen, and Quinn, to all of our colleagues in this place who worked with him in the Conservative Party, the Prime Minister, and everyone who is, at this moment, shattered, broken up, and understanding that we will not see Jim Flaherty again on this mortal plane.

Forgive me if I recognize that Jim Flaherty was a man of faith. For those who are of no faith, please forgive me if I reflect that we part company now and enter into the break to observe the most sacred portion of the Christian calendar, when we go through Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Good Friday and ultimately recognize that Jesus Christ broke the bonds of death and we celebrate resurrection. I hope that those moments will give some comfort to Jim’s friends and family, because Jim Flaherty was a man of deep faith, and those of us of faith know that he is in, as they say, a better place, the best place.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Amen.