Bridging the partisan divide

Times-Herald Editorial Staff
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Tears and hugs superseded the petty divisions of politics Friday.

Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty died Thursday, triggering emotional reactions from politicians of every stripe. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The sudden death of former finance minister Jim Flaherty on Thursday had members of Parliament put the politicking aside for a while to pay tribute to the Irishman.

The respect that was paid to Flaherty across the aisle was sincere and each political party took time to eulogize him during a time usually scheduled for Question Period — the last to be held before a two-week break for Easter.

Kady O’Malley, a CBC political reporter, tweeted on Friday morning the Chamber was very quiet, save for the few punctuating moments of levity.

The measure of Flaherty was in the respect that he commanded across political lines.

NDP House leader Peter Julian led the Opposition acknowledgments, in which he stated that Flaherty was “genuine, decent and kind” and his death served as a “brutal reminder” that despite partisan difference, they’re all politicians and involved in politics to serve Canadians.

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, delivered a eulogy, as did Liberal finance critic Scott Brison. The leaders of the three major parties were not in the Commons on Friday, but all gave statements when news of Flaherty’s death broke Thursday.

Perhaps it was fitting that Flaherty’s protégé Kellie Leitch, minister of labour and of status of women, made a heartfelt and moving speech in the Chamber.

With her voice breaking and as she fought back tears, Leitch described Flaherty’s “legacy (as) immense” and that “Canada has lost a giant.”

She ended with an Irish blessing and stated, “I will miss you forever.”

Opposition MPs lined up to hug an emotional Leitch after the session closed.

It is unfortunate that a death is what was needed to bring everyone together, but even a small gesture like both sides of the aisle wearing green to honour Flaherty shows how much he meant to the political landscape of Canada.

Flaherty was a man that earned and deserved respect. A man that never let his very publicized illness get in the way of working hard to put together a balanced budget.

It is shocking that only a month ago, he was still working side-by-side with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

However, it is not shocking to see the outpouring of support from those that worked with and against him on the Hill.

“It is deeply tragic,” said Conservative Senator Hugh Segal. “He and his family deserved more than this.”

A bouquet of flowers lay where Flaherty usually sat in the Chamber, along with a card that read: “You are and will always be missed and remembered.”

He truly will be, and deservedly so.

All Times-Herald editorials are written by its editorial staff.

Organizations: CBC, NDP House, Green Party

Geographic location: Canada

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