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Hundreds attend state funeral for Jim Flaherty

Lavish service lasts a little under two hours, honouring Canada's former finance minister...

(CP)

Canada's political elite gathered to pay their final respects to Jim Flaherty, the former finance minister whose sudden death last week spurred an outpouring of grief that has stretched across the country and across party lines.

A state funeral was held at Toronto's downtown St. James Cathedral for Flaherty, 64, who died of a heart attack in his Ottawa condo despite frantic efforts by a cabinet colleague to resuscitate him.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen attended, as did Gov. Gen. David Johnston. The entire federal Conservative caucus was invited, as well as all current provincial premiers and finance ministers, as well as living former prime ministers and governors general.

Large white tents were erected on the lawn of the cathedral and technicians were hurrying the final preparations for the live broadcast of the service.

Across the street from the church, a phalanx of TV cameras awaited the arrival of family, friends and dignitaries.

Onlookers began gathering several hours before the ceremony was scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET. One man had his patriotism on full display, wearing a white jacket adorned with a red maple leaf and clutching a Canadian flag.

The ceremonial route of the casket, scheduled to begin in nearby Whitby, Ont., just before 2 p.m. ET, will wind its way along Highway 401, down the Don Valley Parkway and through downtown Toronto before arriving at the church at 2:50 p.m. ET.

Flaherty's death, which came less than a month after his retirement as minister, sent shock waves through the national capital, where flags have been flying at half-mast and the Peace Tower has been bathed in green light, a tribute to his Irish heritage.

Hundreds of dignitaries and citizens lined up to pay their respects Tuesday at Whitby's Abilities Centre, which caters to the disabled and able-bodied alike. Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived late in the day for a private viewing.

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, a Flaherty confidante who rushed to his condo in an attempt to revive her friend and had dinner with him on the eve of his death, also paid her respects. An emotional Leitch blew a kiss to his casket.   

Harper will speak at the funeral in front of a crowd that will include NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and several federal cabinet ministers.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston and Mark Carney, the former Bank of Canada governor who now heads the Bank of England, will also be on hand at the funeral, which is taking place under tight security just blocks from Toronto's famed financial district, a favourite Flaherty stomping ground.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, whose friendship with Flaherty caused the diminutive finance minister some uncomfortable moments in the media spotlight last year, is also expected to attend. Ford and his brother, Doug, also paid their respects in Whitby on Tuesday.

Mourners filed into a low-lit room in the city east of Toronto, where Flaherty's Maple Leaf-draped casket lay between two Mounties in ceremonial dress. Flaherty's widow, Ontario MPP Christine Elliott, and the couple's triplet sons stood on one side as Irish tunes played softly from speakers.

Flaherty's state funeral is the first such honour since 2011, when former NDP leader Jack Layton was laid to rest. State funerals are customarily only given to current or former prime ministers, governors general, sitting cabinet ministers or members of the Royal Family.

Toronto Police are reminding motorists to expect traffic delays and congestion in and around the area of King and Church Streets on Wednesday. 

St. James Anglican Church on King Street East is the site of the state funeral for former Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty at 3:00pm.

At 9am, King Street East will be closed to traffic between Jarvis Street and Church Street.

Streetcars will continue to run until 10am, after which they will be diverted.

At 10 a.m., the following full road closures will be implemented:

- Adelaide Street East, between Church Street and Jarvis Street
- Church Street, between King Street East and Adelaide Street East
- Jarvis Street, southbound, between Adelaide Street East and King Street East

There will also be the funeral procession from Whitby to the Church starting just before 2:00pm and the procession after the service.

Hundreds are expected to attend the funeral.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be in attendance and  will deliver a eulogy to his longtime co-worker and friend.

Flaherty died suddenly last Thursday at the age of 64.

Governor General David Johnston, all living former Prime Ministers, the entire federal conservative caucus, every MPP in the Ontario legislature and Toronto mayor Rob Ford are some of the dignitaries that were invited.

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  • 14
  1. john posted on 04/16/2014 10:41 AM
    i am going to be there best politician ever we will never have one better then him . R.I.P.
    1. Sonny posted on 04/16/2014 11:00 AM
      @john I won't be going, he was part of the Harris gov't that cut services to Toronto and VERY partisan. When he was the "Toronto rep" because there were no Toronto Cons; he bad mouthed the Province saying it would be "the last place he would invest" Plus he raised my retirement eligability to 67
    2. Mark posted on 04/16/2014 11:17 AM
      @Sonny Bla bla bla. What a dink you are. Typical hate filled stupid leftist idiot.

      Oh, and BTW, no one cares if you go or not.
    3. Angry Bill posted on 04/16/2014 11:33 AM
      @Mark Sonny's entitled to like or not like a politician because of their past record. God knows I have very strong opinions regarding certain (mostly provincial liberal) politicians because of their track record.

      But regardless of whatever past record he had, he was the steady hand at Canada's financial helm while the world was going through a big recession. It could have been a lot worse with someone else at the helm.
  2. Mark posted on 04/16/2014 11:29 AM
    On a more positive note. Thank you Flaherty for being Canada's best finance minister. You stepped up to the plate when you needed to and pulled back to a balanced budget. AND, you and the Cons did not balance budgets on broken promises like all Liberals do.

    I thank God every day for the past 9 years of Con government. Without that, our HST would be at 20% and like all Liberal governments, we would be mired in waste, scandal, and a bloated government that would be a permanent historic detriment to our nation.

    Gee,,, that sounds like the current Ontario Libranos.

    The question is - when will leftist idiots who vote liberal understand that the liberals they vote for think they are idiots. Everyone with half a brain cell knows that liberals lie through their teeth and will say anything to get elected. This is historic liberal behaviour and it's about time Liberals were burned at the stake forever.
    1. Sonny posted on 04/16/2014 11:38 AM
      @Mark He inherited a $13 Billion Surplus in 2006 and ran Deficits from 2008-14 adding up to $160 Billion plus Interest that will take a generation to pay down!
      The Libranos inherited a $42 Billion Deficit in 1993; ran 4 Deficits and then 8 Balanced Budgets!(smile)
    2. arthur posted on 04/16/2014 02:17 PM
      @Mark Paul Martin has my vote as the best finance minister
    3. Walter posted on 04/16/2014 09:30 PM
      @arthur All Chretien/Martin fans are also fans of the Harris government. Both balance their budgets by downloading.

      Flaherty chose a different path and he increased transfers for health-care and introduced the RDSP for the disabled. An excellent job.

      I read on Bloomberg that 7 of 8 years Canada's economy was above the G7 average, and in US$ terms, Canada's economy improved over 50% compared to 23% for the G7 average. Globally, excellent results than to Jim.
    4. G Man posted on 04/17/2014 09:09 AM
      @Sonny Sonny, don't forget that when Flaherty ran those budgets with huge deficits in order to stimulate the economy, the Liberals and NDP both argued he wasn't spending enough. Our debt would be much, much bigger had either of those parties been in charge back in 2008-9.
    5. Sonny posted on 04/17/2014 09:27 AM
      @G Man & arthur; Those budgets were passed with the support of Liberals under Iggy. 2009/10 there was a $33 Billion budgeted Deficit that turned out to be over $55 Billion!

      Comparing Canada to 6 other countries; Germany is already out of Deficit. The U$ unemployment rate is lower than us plus the CDN $ has dropped 10% in that time because we are SO reliant on exports there...
  3. Frankie posted on 04/16/2014 11:39 AM
    Flaherty was one of the best Finance Ministers this country has ever had. It's very sad that he didn't have the opportunity to enjoy life with his family after politics.

    Canada is a stronger country thanks to him and if anyone doubts that they only need read comments from finance ministers of other countries that worked with him and used Canada as a model.

    We were also very fortunate to have had Paul Martin as Finance Minister not long before him, which also helped Canada's strength.

    Both these ministers understood what was needed during the time they were in power.

    People can complain however much they want but we are very fortunate in Canada compared to many other countries.

    Flaherty is being honoured in a manner befitting his contribution to this country. May he rest in peace and may his family find comfort in this very difficult and sad time.
    1. Dawn posted on 04/16/2014 02:14 PM
      @Frankie There is a certain poetic justice that he raised many younger workers age of retirement up and that he was not able to collect a gold plated pension or a million dollar pay day in the private sector.

      He did create a disabilities savings plan where a parent could leave his disabled son some money tax free...
  4. don was right posted on 04/16/2014 05:38 PM
    Poetic justice - where the occupy movement inclusing Gordon Ligtfoot's rich daughter once wailed their misgiuded communist screed that they deserved more from the public teat, we saw the one percent, those who actually will make a difference in our world honour a great man. RIP
  5. Karl Burgin posted on 04/17/2014 09:47 AM
    The speech Flaherty's wife gave was both haunting, and a tear-jerker- probably the most memorable of the whole service.
    Goodbye Jim- we will miss you.
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