Statement on Jim Flaherty's passing

I’m flying home with a heavy heart today after a long week and a very trying day in Ottawa with the news of Jim Flaherty’s passing.

Yesterday was a day of passionate debate, with tempers flaring. The contrast today was sobering. When we heard the news, the House voted unanimously to stop the usual proceedings and people rose from the Opposition benches to line up and shake hands with their colleagues on the other side. There were a lot of tears, people were hugging each other and just saying how much Jim meant to them.

Jim was tough, and made tough decisions, not all of which I agreed with. But he was also a very sensitive and a very kind man—to me, and many others. And he balanced a sense of propriety in the House—taking seriously the job we do for Canadians—with that impish grin and lovely, self-deprecating wit that I will remember. I feel a great loss at the moment.

We don’t have to agree with everything our political opponents do to be able to respect enormously, at the human level, the kind of sacrifices and contributions they make. They do it because they love this country. We all do, and we want to make it better, and I know Jim did, too.

Days like this make us pause. People from all sides talked together today and we reminded ourselves that we can do better. The quality of the debate can be improved. That spirit—and our memories of Jim’s energy, kindness, and wit—should animate us going forward, to do a better job than we’ve done.