IN THE HOUSE ~ My tribute on behalf of the NDP to Jim Flaherty

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    Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Jim Flaherty was genuine, decent and kind.

    C'est avec beaucoup de tristesse que la famille du NPD a appris le décès de Jim Flaherty. Je joins ma voix à celle de notre chef et de tous les néo-démocrates pour offrir nos plus sincères condoléances à sa conjointe, Christine Elliott, et ses trois fils, John, Galen et Quinn, la famille qui l'a fortement soutenu, ainsi qu'aux autres membres de sa famille et de ses nombreux amis.

    Nous saluons sa contribution et son dévouement. Nous reconnaîtrons qu'au cours de ses 20 années de vie politique, il s'est acquitté de ses responsabilités avec détermination et courage. Ici nous garderons de lui le souvenir d'un homme intelligent et dévoué qui a contribué au bien-être du pays.

    Je retiendrai particulièrement sa joie de vivre et son humeur typiquement irlandaise.

One of my favourite stories about Jim is his talking about his family background and the city gates of Galway where is inscribed in Gaelic:

"From the Ferocious O Flaherty's O Lord deliver us".

    Jim would deadpan, “You know. That's not bad training for a finance ministerâ€�.

    However, as MP, as MPP, and as Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty was a man who repeatedly demonstrated his love for public service. He served his constituents, and all Canadians, with dedication, with conviction, and with hard work.

    In a speech that he gave to students at the University of Western Ontario, in 2011, Jim laid out his own thoughts on the importance of public service, and this he demonstrated every day of his public service career. He said:

    Public service reminds us all that there exists a genuine concept of the public good in the broad public interest.

While we value individual liberty and protect it, as Canadians, we also maintain a strong tradition of the public good; that is, what is good for society as a whole...�

    He reflected, then, on his experience listening to Robert Kennedy 40 years earlier. He said:

Today, about 40 years after I heard Kennedy speak, my message is the same: Canada needs you--your skills, talents, idealism, energy, and enthusiasm. Now, more than ever.

    Le décès soudain de Jim nous rappelle aussi de façon brutale qu'au-delà des fonctions partisanes qui nous animent, pour lesquelles nous avons été élus, nous sommes des êtres humains et nous avons beaucoup plus en commun que la somme de nos différences. Comme Jim, nous sommes ici parce que nous voulons servir les Canadiens et les Canadiennes et donner le meilleur de nous-mêmes.

    Jim Flaherty's friendly and engaging demeanour, even in the face of the health challenges that we saw, showed his great strength of character.

    He was always affable. He was always friendly in the members' gym, in the elevator, whenever you met him--the one exception being question period, where he was affable, often, but very strong and eloquent as a debater.

    As one of the many finance critics he faced over the course of his career here, I can say we, all of us, had to be very well-prepared when we came up against Jim Flaherty in the House of Commons.

    All great people are profoundly motivated to make life better for others. With Jim Flaherty, among many other talents, that profound motivation led him to be a passionate advocate for people with disabilities.

    His deep love of his son, John, and his keen understanding of the challenges and obstacles that Canadians with disabilities face every day and through the course of their lifetime led him to push for the creation of the registered disabilities savings plan.

    This did not garner headlines, but it will benefit the lives of Canadians with disabilities for years and for decades to come.

    With that understanding, with decency, and with common sense, Jim Flaherty made a difference in the lives of Canadians who are, far too often, marginalized, forgotten and ignored.

    A few years ago, Jim wrote a column in the newsletter for the Canadian Association of Community Living, about his son, John, and the joy that John gives the entire family. He wrote:

sees clearly what we often miss in the cacophony of our lives. A few years ago, we were underwater in a submersible at the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland looking out the window at the sun’s rays shimmering through the turquoise water on the colourful fish and plants, when John said simply and eloquently, “That's what heaven looks like�. So now I know .

    After nearly a decade of devoted service to our nation in one of the toughest jobs that exists, he looked forward to spending much more time with his loving family.

    Sadly, he was taken from them and taken from all of us at far too young an age.

    We will miss you, Jim Flaherty.