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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)

Could B.C. teachers end up voting no to the tentative deal?

As details of the tentative agreement between the teachers’s union and the government emerged Tuesday, the terms of the deal came under increased scrutiny, especially by teachers. Though it’s hard to tell how broad the support is for the ‘vote no’ movement, it has caused a lot of chatter online in the past 12 hours. Here are two points of view as teachers prepare to vote on Thursday:

Argument for voting no, by Tara Ehrcke:

Staffroom Confidential

Argument for voting yes, by Sandy Garossino:

Should teachers accept the contract? (with tweets) · Sandy Garossino

What’s your opinion?

 



Photos: Darryl Dyck for The Globe and Mail (left), Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail (right).

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Poll findings shed light on public pressure facing education dispute negotiators

In an opinion poll conducted the weekend before the tentative settlement was reached between teachers and government, Insights West learned some things that demonstrate the mood in the province after so many weeks of a work stoppage. Mario Canseco from the polling firm summarized these findings in a series of tweets last night:

More can be found at the Insights West website

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Reaction from both sides about tentative B.C. teachers’ contract

FROM BCTF NEWS CONFERENCE:

FROM GOVERNMENT NEWS CONFERENCE:

 


 

British Columbians will be hearing from both sides of the B.C. public education labour dispute today. Government leaders Christy Clark and Peter Fassbender are up at 2 p.m., then Jim Iker of the BCTF will speak at 4:30 p.m. From a government media advisory:

Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender will address the tentative agreement with the BCTF from the Premier’s Vancouver Office.

And a memo from the teachers’ side said this:

BCTF President Jim Iker will speak to media today, September 16, at 4:30 p.m. at the BCTF Building, 550 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver. His remarks will be live streamed at https://new.livestream.com/BCTF/Sept162014.

Stay tuned for developments from these media availabilities.

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Tentative deal reached in B.C. teachers’ strike

UPDATE, 1:12 p.m.

Sources close to the negotiations have told The Globe and Mail that teachers will be asked to vote on a six-year deal that includes total wage hikes of 7.25 per cent, which is similar to the offer that the government’s negotiators put on the table in June, and they will not collect the $1,200 signing bonus that was on the table at that time – that offer expired on June 30.

However the government is putting roughly $100-million into a fund that the union can distribute to its members to address the grievances from the 2002 law that stripped the contract of language on class size and composition.

The main victory for the union is that the government is creating a new education fund that will be used exclusively for members of the BCTF to address issues of class size and composition – the number of special needs students in each classroom. The government had offered to put more money into special needs supports, but had initially planned to share that investment with other educators such as educational assistants who are not part of the BCTF.


 

Veteran mediator Vince Ready, who emerged from the Richmond, B.C., hotel early Tuesday morning after another marathon negotiation session, had this to say: “After all these hours I’m very pleased to announced the parties have reached a tentative agreement. I’m not at liberty to release any of the details, nor are the parties. The parties are going to meet later this morning and finalize a few of the outstanding details, but generally speaking there has been a tentative agreement initialed by the parties.”

A ratification vote is expected on Thursday, according to BCTF spokeswoman Nancy Knickerbocker.

So when might schools officially open again?  Vancouver School Board chair Patti Bacchus predicts it will take several days — after the vote — for things to get back to normal: “There is a lot of work and classroom/timetable organization that normally would have started at the end of June and been completed by now,” she said in an email.

“I know principals and VPs have being doing as much of that as they can and I understand the expectation is that we would open within a day or two of an agreement being in place (may require ratification etc). That could be part of the ongoing negotiations as well.

“However it unfolds, it will certainly take several days to get things settled to the point they would normally be at this time of year.”

Here’s our latest news story with developments in the deal to end the strike.

Government-appointed negotiator Peter Cameron takes a walk during a break from negotiations at the Delta Vancouver Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Monday night. (Ben Nelms for The Globe and Mail)

Government-appointed negotiator Peter Cameron takes a walk during a break from negotiations at the Delta Vancouver Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Monday night. (Ben Nelms for The Globe and Mail)

With a report from Justine Hunter in Victoria

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Social media roundup: Tuesday morning photos reflect optimism as tentative deal announced

Pictures shared on social media this morning tell the story: People are excited about a probable end to the teachers strike.

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