Harper and Jim Flaherty’s family pay tribute at state funeral

by Jane Taber and Chris Hannay

The state funeral for former finance minister Jim Flaherty was held Wednesday at St. James Cathedral in Toronto. Mr. Flaherty died Thursday, apparently of a heart attack, after resigning from cabinet just a few weeks earlier. Here are some highlights of the service.

Harper delivers first eulogy

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and his wife Laureen wait for the start of the state funeral for the late Jim Flaherty in Toronto on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and his wife Laureen wait for the start of the state funeral for the late Jim Flaherty in Toronto on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Choking back tears, Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered an emotional and powerful tribute to his friend and partner, Jim Flaherty, calling his decision to name him finance minister “one of the best decisions of my political career.”

Mr. Harper wrote the tribute himself, recalling meeting Mr. Flaherty in 2005 at his office when they talked about his wish to run for federal office. “He was sheepish,” remembered Mr. Harper, “he had not supported my leadership campaign.”

He also said that Mr. Flaherty was initially reticent about taking on the finance portfolio.

And then he talked about their last meeting in his office, just a few weeks ago, when Mr. Flaherty said that he was retiring from office. “I told him that … he had done a great job and I understood the sacrifices it entailed. I wished him well. I told him not to be a stranger.”

The Prime Minister also detailed Mr. Flaherty’s legacy, which he says was putting Canada on a stable track through the 2008 -2009 recession. Even as he pushed the stimulus money out the door, Mr. Harper said, he made significant changes, including not using the crisis to build bureaucracies or to create new programs.

He joked about Mr. Flaherty – saying that he once described as the best finance minister “per inch” in the world. Mr. Flaherty was only 5’ 3” tall and would make fun of his height. “He delivered many jokes about his own shortness but short as he was upon the world stage he often strode like a giant,” said Mr. Harper.

Addressing, Mr. Flaherty’s wife, MPP Christine Elliott and their triplet sons, he acknowledged that as traumatic an event as this has been for Mr. Flaherty’s friends, it is worse for his family.

“We have lost a partner in politics but you have lost a partner in life,” he said.

Read Mr. Harper’s full speech.

Sister Norah delivers second eulogy

Wife and sons give tributes

Christine Elliott touches the casket of her late husband at the state funeral for the Jim Flaherty in Toronto on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Christine Elliott touches the casket of her late husband at the state funeral for the Jim Flaherty in Toronto on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Christine Elliott characterized her husband as a perfectionist, smart and intense. She says that her husband would do anything for his triplet boys, now 23 years old, singling out John, who has a mental disability. She said “inclusion in every respect was his ultimate goal.”  

John and his father had a special relationship, spending a lot of time together at sports events, especially baseball games.  John is a Toronto Blue Jays fan. John considered his Dad his “ticket purveyor,” she joked. John’s brothers, Galen and Quinn, also both spoke emotionally about their father. John did not speak but stood behind his mother during her remarks.

Leitch gives Reading

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, who had reportedly performed CPR on Mr. Flaherty on the day he died, gave the Reading. She is a long-time friend of Mr. Flaherty and his wife. Dr. Leitch, who is also a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, called the former finance minister her “champion.” She told The Globe and Mail that he called her every second day for months to try to persuade her to run for federal office. He finally wore her down. She ran in the Ontario riding of Simcoe–Grey in the 2011 federal election.

Mourners arrived

The casket of Canada’s former finance minister Jim Flaherty arrives at St. James Cathedral for his state funeral in Toronto (Canadian Press)

Before the funeral, former cabinet minister Jay Hill told The Globe’s Jane Taber about his recent visits with Mr. Flaherty.

On all levels it just seemed to me [Flaherty] had given it all and he had given too much. … He was just exhausted in all ways.

Who’s there?

Most of Mr. Flaherty’s caucus colleagues are in attendance. Four Liberal MPs, including leader Justin Trudeau and Scott Brison, long time finance critic, are also attending.

Notably in the church is Jim Prentice, former minister of industry and aboriginal affairs, who left government, and was appointed senior executive vice-president and vice-chairman of CIBC in January 2011. His presence reminds people of choices that politicians make about leaving their posts — and careers after public service. Much has been made of the fact that Mr. Flaherty was preparing for a career in the private sector, where he could make his mark and some money after politics. Sadly, his retirement lasted only a few weeks.

Canada’s Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Official Opposition leader Thomas Muclair arrive for the state funeral of Canada’s former finance minister Jim Flaherty in Toronto. (Canadian Press)

The church has a capacity of about 800, with an additional 1,000 people in tents outside.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who worked closely with Mr. Flaherty over eight years in government, will deliver a eulogy he penned himself, as reported by The Globe’s Steven Chase.

Finance Minister Joe Oliver waits inside the church at the state funeral for the late Jim Flaherty in Toronto on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Finance Minister Joe Oliver waits inside the church at the state funeral for the late Jim Flaherty in Toronto on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Many notables in politics, both federally and provincially, have been invited, including:

  • Governor-General David Johnston.
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and John Turner.
  • Many federal cabinet ministers, including Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Treasury Board President Tony Clement, Trade Minister Ed Fast, Employment Minister Jason Kenney, Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, Justice Minister Peter MacKay, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, new Finance Minister Joe Oliver and Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.
  • NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
  • Former Bank of Canada governor (currently with the Bank of England) Mark Carney.
  • Michael Horgan, deputy minister of finance under Mr. Flaherty.
  • Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and former premiers Mike Harris and David Peterson.
  • Assembly of First Nations national chief Shawn Atleo.
  • All Conservative MPs and all MPPs from Ontario’s legislature were invited.
  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, his brother, councillor Doug Ford, and their mother Diane Ford.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his wife Renata arrive at the church for the state funeral for the late Jim Flaherty in Toronto on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his wife Renata arrive at the church for the state funeral for the late Jim Flaherty in Toronto on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The end of the service

What is a state funeral?

A state funeral is a public ceremony organized by the government of Canada, in co-ordination with the family of the deceased. Traditionally, the honour is bestowed on prime ministers, governors-general and cabinet ministers who die in office. The prime minister may offer state funerals for other public figures who did not fit that criteria, such as Mr. Flaherty or the NDP’s then-leader Jack Layton when he died in 2011. (See a list of Canada’s state funerals.) Watch this video for more on state funerals.

— Chris Hannay, digital politics editor (@channay on Twitter), and Jane Taber (@JaneTaber1 on Twitter)

Ask The Globe: Is Harper correct in his assessment that “most” cases of murdered indigenous women are “solved”?

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

JJ June poised this question: Fact Check “Harper says ‘most’ cases of murdered aboriginal women are solved.” CP Oct. 6/15

Kathryn Blaze Baum, a national reporter who covers the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women for The Globe gave this response:

First, it is important to note that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s comment was made in the context of an inquiry into both missing and murdered indigenous women. Indigenous leaders and Canada’s premiers have been calling for a federal probe to better understand why aboriginal women are disproportionately more likely to disappear or be killed and also to determine how to tackle the violence.

In 2014, the RCMP released an unprecedented report looking at police-recorded incidents of missing and murdered indigenous women across the country. It found that between 1980 and 2012, there were 1,017 homicides and 164 outstanding missing-person cases. Within that time period, there are 225 unsolved cases: 105 women have been missing for more than 30 days and their disappearances are categorized as either “foul play suspected” or “unknown,” and 120 homicide cases have not been solved.

It is true, then, that most homicides involving indigenous women have been solved. As stated in the RCMP report: “The majority of all female homicides are solved (close to 90%) and there is little difference in solve rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal victims.”

But this is not the whole picture.

It is important to understand what the RCMP means when it says “solved.” The report indicates that, for the purposes of the study, the term is used synonymously with “clearance rate.” Here is how clearance rate is defined, in one of the footnotes:

“Clearance refers to whether or not a homicide incident was cleared:  (1) either by the laying, or recommending of a charge to the Crown; or (2) where at least one suspect has been identified and against whom there is sufficient evidence to lay a charge, but where the incident is cleared otherwise (e.g. the suicide or death of the chargeable suspect … ).”

This means that if police recommend charges but the Crown decides not to proceed, or if an accused is charged but later acquitted, the case is still considered solved. A killing, then, could be deemed solved without a conviction.

Put simply, the police might consider a case cleared, but the victim’s family may still be waiting for justice.

Furthermore, it is possible that some of the 105 unresolved cases involving missing indigenous women, whose disappearances are categorized as “foul play suspected” or “unknown,” are actually unsolved homicide cases.

Finally, a couple of questions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

First Cdn Politico asks: Yes. Wasn’t Tom Mulcair in favour of TPP as recently as 2 months ago?

One of our Ottawa corespondents, John Ibbitson, answers this question.

The NDP has traditionally opposed free trade agreements, saying that they lead to lower labour and environmental standards, job losses and foreign interference/loss of sovereignty.

Under Thomas Mulcair the party has modified its stance, supporting the free trade agreement with South Korea and supporting in principle the free trade agreement with Europe, although it is withholding full approval until it sees the final, legally-vetted document. The party had no stated position on the Trans Pacific Partnership other than it supports free and fair trade.

However, Mr. Mulcair has decided that this agreement would lead to lost jobs — especially in the auto sector — more costly prescription drugs, and the erosion of the supply management system that protects the dairy and poultry industry. The NDP opposes the TPP.

Finally joey wonders: if  The NDP have said they won’t necessarily uphold an agreement PCs may reach in TPP. Have the liberals commented their stance?

The Liberal Party fought the free trade agreement between Canada and the United States, and only reluctantly endorsed the North American Free Trade Agreement the included Mexico, negotiated by the Mulroney government. However, the Chretien government did conclude a couple of small free-trade agreements, and Justin Trudeau has been supportive of the Harper government’s trade agenda, endorsing the agreement with the European Union. The Liberal Party, however, declines to take a position on the TPP until the full text of the agreement is revealed.

(Want to know more about the TPP? Our explainer can be found here.)

Ask The Globe: Answers to your questions on marijuana, the census and Liberal sponsorship scandal

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Spencer Smit asks: @globeandmail Harper saying cannabis is worse than tobacco, citing “evidence” please advise #AskTheGlobe

Mike Hager, a Globe reporter in Vancouver, recently looked into this:

The Canadian Cancer Society says smoking tobacco continues to be the leading preventable cause of premature deaths in the country, claiming about 37,000 lives each year. The non-profit organization says tobacco is the main risk factor for cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung disease in Canada.

In contrast, no deaths have been directly attributed to cannabis use or overdose, says Dr. Tim Stockwell, director of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research. But it is likely a factor in “a few” fatal crashes and “a few” lung-cancer deaths each year, he said.

Elizabeth Jane Banks asks: #AskTheGlobe Please fact check Elizabeth May’s claim that almost no one completes the voluntary census. #cdnpoli #elxn42

“Almost no one” may be a bit strong, but experts have warned about the quality of the National Household Survey data after it was made voluntary in 2011. Previously the longform census, which asks for more detailed information and is sent to a fraction of households, was mandatory. The response rates for the voluntary form were about 70 per cent in 2011, whereas the response rate for the mandatory form in 2006 was 93.5 per cent.

Alex Dempster asks: @globeandmail Harper said of the Liberal sponsorship scandal that $40 million of Canadians taxpayers’ money lost. Accurate? #AskTheGlobe

Maybe? This one’s a bit tricky, and may be a case of fuzzy math in campaign slogans. But it may originate in the $40-million of government funds for contracts to a firm where there was no evidence of work done, etc.

(The Globe and Mail, incidentally, won the prestigious Michener Award for public service in journalism for its uncovering of the scandal.)

Ask The Globe: Your questions on citizenship, C-51 and refugees

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Ben asks: #AskTheGlobe Can the government legally revoke someones Canadian citizenship? #MunkDebate

and Sarah asks: What conditions can a Canadian loose their citizenship, residency, or voting rights? Do refugees hafta pay interest? #AskTheGlobe

Let’s deal with these two together.

First, yes, the government can legally revoke citizenship if it was obtained fraudulently. The Conservatives also added another policy, which is that dual nationals can potentially lose their citizenship if convicted of terrorism or treason crimes. Depending on the circumstances, someone whose citizenship was revoked may be removed from the country.

On voting, the Conservatives did change the eligibility to vote for Canadian expats living abroad. Generally they lose their right to vote after five years, which Donald Sutherland was not very happy about.

Chris asks: Did Tom Mulcair really say different things about repealing C51? #AskTheGlobe

The NDP has never supported Bill C-51, the Anti-Terror Act. The New Democrats voted against the bill, which was supported by the Conservatives and Liberals. However, in interviews earlier in the year, leader Thomas Mulcair did change his tone. In February, Mr. Mulcair said he wouldn’t commit to repealing the bill if elected, though his party would definitely change it. Weeks later, in March, Mr. Mulcair committed to repealing the entire law.

Myles asks: Harper says ours response has been generous- is that true compared to past refugee crises? #MunkDebate #asktheglobe #futurevoter

It depends on what past refugee crises we’re comparing it to. In terms of numbers and speed of access for refugees, it’s much lower than Vietnam (when Joe Clark raised the target to 60,000 refugees). Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau at the Munk Debate brought up comparisons with Vietnam to accuse Harper of being stingy. What sets Syria apart from Vietnam is the rules Stephen Harper introduced about refugees needing their status approved by UNHCR or a third country, a rule that didn’t exist for the Vietnamese (and which the Kurdi family blames for the events leading to Alan’s death off the Turkish coast). If we’re comparing Syria with the Second World War, though – when we famously turned away a boatload of Jewish refugees in 1939, and were pretty hostile to Jewish refugees even during the war – our current response looks more generous. (Doug Saunders and Sean Fine have done really good historical analyses of Vietnam, the Second World War and our response to the Hungarian refugee crisis in the 1950s).

Ask The Globe: What happens if two parties tie for the most seats?

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Christopher Stasiuk asks: If two parties tie for first with the most seats in the federal election, who governs? Who is the PM? #asktheglobe

According to Wednesday’s Nanos numbers the Liberals and Conservatives are locked in a dead heat atop the polls. Which makes Christopher’s question a timely one.

Digital politics editor Chris Hannay explains the process.

The incumbent always gets first crack at forming government. (Usually, if the incumbent has not won the most seats after an election, they decline.) If the incumbent is one of the tied parties and they have a Speech from the Throne, and it gets defeated by the other parties, they have to go to Governor-General David Johnston and declare that they don’t have the confidence of the House.

The Governor-General can then decide whether to call an election or let another party have a chance at governing.

If an election has just happened, typically the Governor-General is expected to let another party have a chance to form the government so as not to waste voters’ times. (This happened in 1926)

If the second-place party, or the other party that was tied, can survive a confidence vote with other parties’ support, then they’re in government now.

This is essentially what happened in Ontario in 1985.