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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday 11 April 2014

Jim Flaherty

The news of Jim Flaherty's death quickly reached across the pond to Germany, where I learned of it at an event commemorating the liberation of Mittlebau-Dora Concentration Camp.

As the themes of death, sacrifice and nobility are very much on my mind today, I've found myself thinking about Canada's former Minister of Finance a lot. 

I've never met Flaherty, but have always had the same impression as Ralph Goodale; he was a man of conviction who pursued the policies he did because he truly thought they were the right choices for Canada.

That's no small thing.  We live in a time and age where noble intent often plays second fiddle to partisan positioning.  I never felt Flaherty crossed that line, something few politicians can be credited with.

Flaherty equally struck me as a man who truly believed in politics as a noble calling and gave his all to it.  This too is no easy thing - politics is all-consuming and doesn't allow much time for family.  I'm sure Flaherty made the time, meaning that between politics, his constituents and his family, he probably didn't have much time for himself.

You sacrifice a lot for politics.  I remember a dearly departed friend, former MPP Bruce Crozier, retiring to spend more time with his grandkids, but dying in equally tragic circumstances and being denied the chance.

I have a great deal of admiration for Flaherty's wife, Christine Elliot, another politician who is truly committed to making her jurisdiction a better place.  She and I believe in some of the same causes; in one of my most treasured political memories, we sat down in her office during a provincial election to talk about the importance of a comprehensive occupational mental health strategy, despite the fact that we were on different sides of the political spectrum.

Christine's life just got a lot harder.  While Canada has lost a well-known and respected politician, and Parliamentarians have lost a friend, Christine has lost her life partner, father of her children and the man she was supposed to enjoy many, many more years with.

I've no doubt that she will rise to this challenge - she's that kind of person - but it won't be easy.  I'm sure that she will have the support, love and friendship of colleagues within her caucus and constituency, but also the political world as a whole.

As I reflect on the friends I've made through my association with Buchenwald Concentration Camp and the shrinking number of survivors that remain, I can't help but think about how short the time we have together truly is and how much of an impact what happens to us in the present has on the future.

May Jim Flaherty rest in well-deserved peace, may his wife and family enjoy the support of friends and family as they come to terms with their loss and adjust and may the rest of us remember that no matter how different we may feel we all our, we all come to the same end.

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