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JIM FLAHERTY, M.P., 1949-2014
The Irish Lion Has Fallen
by Timothy Rollins, Editor and Columnist

Tim reacts to the sudden death of a sitting Member of Canadian Parliament who was also a personal friend.

April 10, 2014

Timothy Rollins - Beneath the SurfaceWhitby, Ontario Mayor Pat Perkins, Whitby-Oshawa MPP Christine Elliott, Whitby-Oshawa MP Jim Flaherty, Citizenship Judge (not identified), and Uniformed RCMP Officer at Citize4nship Day Ceremonies in Whitby, Ontario on July 1, 2013 (TAP Photo)Those who've known me any length of time know that they've rarely -- if ever -- seen me at a loss of words, and that I NEVER envisioned writing these words. Until today. This afternoon was one of those occasions, when shortly after visiting with a member of Jim Flaherty's staff, I received a news flash on my phone telling me that Jim Flaherty (pictured, right), a man I first met and became friends with 15 years ago, and whose career I'd followed for close to 20, died this morning at his Ottawa home, leaving me in shock and in absolute stunned silence.

As I took time to quickly tell the news to a couple of friends who have known Jim longer than I have, I looked back on the life of an amazing man whose Irish pride was also one of his greatest strengths. In Jim, I quickly learned on first meeting him, many things that I came to appreciate more over time. With respect and awe, I saw a man who was no ordinary politician; he was a gentleman first and foremost, one who put into practice a philosophy I first learned from my commanding officer; that being, 'Care for people; success will follow'.

With Jim, you instinctively knew that family -- especially his family -- came first, last and always. His guiding light was his amazing wife Christine Elliott and their triplet sons, Galen, John and Quinn. Even though Jim and Christine were lawyers by profession before entering politics, you knew through their actions they put people first, and that it clearly was not about them.

In Jim, you not only got what you saw, you had a delightfully wicked sense of humor thrown in the mix as a bonus. A lot of politicians 'talk the talk', but with Jim and Christine, they both 'walked the walk'. In Jim, I saw a level of compassion uncharacteristic of many political types. When you visited with him, you had his complete attention. I see the same in Christine too. When I spoke with her in a scheduled 30-minute appointment 17 months ago, I noticed she, too, gave me her undivided attention. In return, I kept it to 25 minutes to ensure she had time to be ready for her next appointment, on a schedule I suspected was bumper-to-bumper.

I say this because I know that for all the maligning and 'bad rep' political types get from a lot of folks, I've also known enough of them over the years to know that they're among the hardest-working and most selfless people around, especially their office support staffs. They work impossible hours, often at the expense of a chunk of their social lives and other after-hours pleasures they'd love to be able to indulge in periodically, but in seeking to serve their constituents -- the very people that voted them into office -- a lot of their off-hours time gets consumed in making sure the people get served in a manner becoming their honest and honorable work ethic.

Always being the team player and gentleman, Jim dutifully served in his role representing his constituents first, and when then-Prime Minister Paul Martin's government fell on a no-confidence vote, Jim ran for the federal seat in his riding and was elected as part of a Conservative minority government. Jim was selected as Finance Minister by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and would serve as Canada's longest serving Finance Minister, right up until March 18th. Jim's wife Christine Elliott would go on to be elected to succeed him in the by-election for his former provincial seat, thus becoming the first husband-wife team in Canadian history to represent the same riding at both the provincial and federal levels.

And now, I join my Canadian friends from coast-to-coast-along with others of goodwill worldwide -- in bidding a reluctant and an often tearful farewell to a noble-hearted man whose capabilities as Canada's longest serving finance minister earned him respect worldwide; a visionary man whose professional skill and tactical prowess during the 2008 recession steered Canada through it and emerged in better shape by far than any other country in the G8; a man who was honored by the NASDAQ and the Canadian Consulate General's Office in New York on his last day on the job just 23 days ago, and a man we must involuntarily say farewell to now, far too soon.

Until we meet again, dear friend, we turn you to God's kind care and keeping. God be with you till we meet again. ***

© 2014 Timothy Rollins

A veteran freelance writer, Timothy Rollins brings a wealth of political and military experience dating back more than three decades. He is a freelance writer and policy analyst living in the Greater Toronto Area of Canada who has been featured both on television and radio. He has appeared both in online publications as well as in print newspapers in the United States such as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, USA TODAY, the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, and also in Canada, where he has appeared in The Toronto SUN and the Daily Herald in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His television appearances include The Michael Coren Show in Canada and KWTV 9 NEWS in Oklahoma City. The views expressed here by Mr. Rollins are his own and do not represent the official views of any organization or entity with which he may otherwise be affiliated. As such, Mr. Rollins alone takes full responsibility for them. He can be reached by e-mail at rollins@american-partisan.com. ***

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