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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)

Teachers get back to work in B.C. classrooms

Grade Six teacher David Murphy welcomes students on the first day of school, 2012, at Simon Fraser Elementary School in Vancouver. Similar scenes will play out across B.C. on Monday and Tuesday. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

Grade Six teacher David Murphy welcomes students on the first day of school, 2012, at Simon Fraser Elementary School in Vancouver. Similar scenes will play out across B.C. on Monday and Tuesday. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

On a day when teachers returned to classrooms around the province with varying levels of enthusiasm (see pictures below from Twitter and Instagram), we say it’s a good time to end the B.C. teachers’ strike liveblog and leave Politics Live to upcoming municipal election campaigns. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Remember to pick up a copy of Saturday’s Globe and Mail newspaper for extended coverage of the end of the labour dispute.

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Back to school, back to dealing with school issues

With the drama of bargaining, picket lines and rallies finally in the past, teachers, parents and students can now turn their attention to returning to classes next week. That means all those back-to-school pointers and advice columns the rest of Canada read before Labour Day are suddenly relevant for readers in B.C. Here’s a sampling:

Resist the back-to-school overspending tyranny

A helpful personal finance column by Rob Carrick urges parents to mind their budgets by thinking twice before upgrading perfectly good technology, skipping a few extraneous items on school-supply lists and saying no to those buy-one-get-one-half-off-another sales.

Read the full article here.


 

How to help kids stay cool about back to school

Psychologist and author Sara Dimerman advises on preparing kids for expected anxieties at different school levels. For example:

Grade 1 is both exciting and anxiety-provoking. Your child is likely standing tall knowing that he has joined ranks of the older kids. However, he may also be apprehensive about taking on more responsibility and spending recess on a different playground. … Rest assured that these feelings and behaviours are normal and it’s a good idea to tell him so. Share that even teachers feel nervous before school begins again. Go for a walk around the exterior of the school and spend some time in the new playground.

Read the full article here.


 

The top three back-to-school stresses for teens

If you’re the parent of a teenager, here’s more advice to help you anticipate students’ stress, from columnist Anthony E. Wolf:

Talk to them. Let them know that you understand that the beginning of school can be stressful. It can seem a little strange, even overwhelming, getting back into a routine, but all kids feel this way. Reassure them that if they do feel apprehensive about it, they are not alone.

Read the full article here.


 

Kids’ snacks that make the grade

Growing kids need to refuel every two to three hours to keep their blood sugar (glucose) levels stable as sustained blood sugar means kids will have more energy to concentrate in class and participate in after school sports. The added calories from snacks provide an opportunity to boost your child’s intake of important nutrients like calcium, iron and zinc.

What kinds of snacks? Dietician and columnist Leslie Beck suggests things like edamame, trail mix and fresh fruit and yogurt.

Read the full article here.

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BCTF members ratify new six-year contract, ending B.C. teachers’ strike

BCTF President Jim Iker announcing ratification vote results on Thursday.

BCTF President Jim Iker announcing ratification vote results on Thursday.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation membership has voted 86 per cent in favour of a new contract, ending the teachers’ strike that has kept more than half-a-million students out of the classroom.

Of 31,741 ballots cast, 27,275 were in favour of the new six-year contract, BCTF president Jim Iker announced Thursday night. There are roughly 41,000 members in all.

“With the ratification of the new collective agreement, the strike and lockout are now over,” Mr. Iker said. “Teachers and students will be back in school on Monday.”

Mr. Iker said there was a “strong vote of support for the collective agreement” despite the fact the union did not get everything it needs.

“We all know that this deal isn’t perfect, but it does provide gains for teachers, it protects our charter rights, it increases support for our students,” he said.

“There will be more classroom and specialist teachers in schools to help our students; our teachers on call will get fair pay for a day’s work and all our members will get a salary increase.”

However, several teachers have said they are not happy with the new deal. (Read our story on that here.)

Education Minister Peter Fassbender issued the following statement after the BCTF’s announcement:

“We have one of the best public education systems in the world, and that’s in large part because we have such great teachers.

“We can now focus on the path forward. This long-term agreement is an historic opportunity to work together for students – to enhance their education experience and to support their achievements.”

Mr. Iker said no lost time will be made up, though former education minister George Abbott has suggested otherwise:

Meanwhile, Thursday’s turnout was higher than the past few ratification votes:

Find more in the story on our main site here.

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Scenes from teacher ratification votes across B.C.

From Andrea Woo:

Just spoke with five teachers outside the voting site in Vancouver and three of them voted against the tentative agreement. The two who voted for it did so grudgingly, saying they couldn’t afford to lose any more money on the picket lines — some have lost around $10,000 — and that they’re worried public perception will turn against them if they vote no. All of them are disappointed with the agreement, but feel it will pass. Several long-time teachers have told me that if they were just starting out today, they wouldn’t get into teaching.


 

Many local teachers’ associations set up information study sessions and voting meetings for teachers today, and tweets show throngs of teachers eager to participate in the process.

From Coquitlam:

From Saanich:

From Surrey:

From Vancouver:

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What to expect Thursday as B.C. teachers vote on the tentative agreement

 

Brentwood Bay Elementary teachers from left to right: Rhayna Archer, Fiona Mosher, Carmen Di Lucca, Jacqueline Jim and Aimee Lampard in Brentwood Bay, B.C., will be among the teachers voting Thursday on whether to ratify a tentative settlement  that would end the strike which began in June. (Chad Hipolito for The Globe and Mail)

Brentwood Bay Elementary teachers (from left to right) Rhayna Archer, Fiona Mosher, Carmen Di Lucca, Jacqueline Jim and Aimee Lampard in Brentwood Bay, B.C., will be among the teachers voting Thursday on whether to ratify a tentative settlement that would end the strike which began in June. (Chad Hipolito for The Globe and Mail)

B.C.’s 40,000 public-school teachers will cast their votes today on the collective agreement achieved by the union and the government after marathon bargaining sessions over the weekend. Results of the vote will be released at 9:30 p.m. in a news conference by BCTF president Jim Iker (streaming link here), and we’ll have them available in a story on our B.C. teachers’ strike topic page.

Study sessions are being held this morning for members so they can learn more about the proposed six-year deal and ask questions. Online, the union posted a one-page PDF entitled “10 reasons to vote yes” as commentators online debate the merits of the agreement. The proposed contract includes a 7.25 per cent salary increase, improvements in extended health benefits and the teaching-on-call rate, an education fund to address class size and composition issues, and money to address retroactive grievances.

The question being put to teachers is this:

Are you in favour of ratifying the agreement-in-committee reached on September 16, 2014?

The deal must also be ratified by the employer. According to a letter sent to parents in the Central Okanagan school district by superintendent Hugh Gloster, the province’s 60 school districts have until 3 p.m. Friday to complete their own ratification vote. If BCTF members ratify Thursday night, however, schools will be open Friday morning and teachers doing prep work will be on the payroll.

Reported elsewhere

Private schools are reporting an overall 5 per cent uptick in enrolment in B.C. over last year, a sign that some parents weren’t prepared to wait for public schools to open. Rates vary across the province based in part on independent schools’ capacity to accept new students, but history shows the public system may have lost many students for good. Says Peter Froese of the Federation of Independent School Associations of BC:

“In our experience, based on past labour disruptions in the public sector, we find that the families that have chosen independent schools in… our fixed structures — they tend to stay.”


While many questions about the school schedule will be worked out at a local level by school districts or even individual schools, there are mandated hours of instruction for public school students in B.C.:

Under the School Act’s school calendar regulation, school districts must offer the following minimum hours of instruction annually: 853 for kindergarten, 878 for grades 1 to 7, and 952 for grades 8 to 12.

With reports from Justine Hunter, Andrea Woo and The Canadian Press

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