Farewell, Mr. Flaherty

Yesterday, the Canadian political world was stunned to learn of the passing of former finance minister Jim Flaherty.

Only three weeks ago, Mr. Flaherty had announced he was leaving politics for more family time and to pursue a private sector career. First elected to the House of Commons in 2006, Mr. Flaherty served as finance minister under Prime Minister Stephen Harper nearly his entire time as an MP, making him one of the longest serving finance ministers in Canada’s history. He’d also previously served for 10 years as an Ontario MPP, where he held the finance portfolio as well as other roles.

Yesterday, friends and colleagues remembered Mr. Flaherty as a deeply principled man, dedicated to a life of public service, but who also possessed a great sense of humour. Evident in the many tributes from his colleagues from all parties, Mr. Flaherty was also respected as one of the House’s most capable members, who brought a rare personal touch to his work.

Mr. Flaherty is well-known for steering Canada through the global economic downturn, but outside financial circles, he was also known as a champion of Canadians with disabilities. The father of a son with a development disability, Mr. Flaherty created the registered disability savings plan (RDSP) as well as a number of other tax changes to benefit people with disabilities. In the most recent federal budget, Mr. Flaherty announced a $15 million investment in a national employment initative for Canadian Association for Community Living and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA). Mr. Flaherty was also a proud supporter of the Special Olympics program where his son is a baseball player.

In 2010, Mr. Flaherty wrote a piece for the Canadian Association for Community Living’s national newsletter titled ‘What heaven looks like’, in which he wrote of the difference his son, John, had made in his family’s life.  You can read it here.

We at Eli Lilly extended our sincere condolences to Mr. Flaherty’s wife, Christine, and his sons, Galen, John and Quinn.

He will be deeply missed.