Flaherty, who was 64, died suddenly of a heart attack April 10 at his home in Ottawa just a month after resigning as Canada’s finance minister. At the time, he said he was looking for a way to make more time with his family and to pursue options in the private sector. He was finance minister for eight years and is credited with steering Canada through the worst of the 2008 recession. A state funeral was to be held for Flaherty on Wednesday, April 16, in Toronto.
LaVar Payne, MP for Medicine Hat riding, said he was in the House of Commons when word reached him about the former finance minister’s passing.
“We were giving member statements,” he said. “There was a buzz going on, and one of my colleagues had been talking to one of the ministers and received word (Flaherty) had passed away. She came in and was very upset.
Payne said the different political parties came together upon hearing the news.
“It was devastating,” he said. “I was really upset about it. He was a great guy.”
“In my view, in all my years of watching politics, he was by far the best finance minister this country’s seen,” he added.
Payne said he remembers Flaherty as well-respected man who always had time to talk to other members of parliament.
“We’re all saddened by (his passing),” he said. “We’re all sending our condolences to his wife and children.”
Gary Bikman, MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner, said he was “shocked” and “deeply saddened” by Flaherty’s passing.
“He did a terrific job,” said Bikman. “He was a true conservative. He gave excellent service to our country. He’s going to be sadly missed by those loved him and knew him well.
“We’ll all feel his loss, I believe, because we won’t have that quality of mind and that principled commitment to fiscal conservatism that he epitomized.”
Payne said while Flaherty will long be remembered as a great financial mind in Canada, his legacy stretches beyond Canadian borders, where he had a great influence on the world.
“I think he’ll best be remembered as the guy who was trying to steer the G7 and the G20 in the right direction to help countries recover from the global recession,” said Payne.
“His legacy is that he was a force in the world,” he added. “(Flaherty) was recognized as the best finance minister in the world.”
On March 18, Flaherty sent his final Tweet as finance minister on the day he announced his resignation. It was a photo of him smiling and waving good-bye as he left one final time, and simply said: “It has been an honour to serve Canada. Thank you for the opportunity.”