Premier Tom Marshall said he was shocked to hear that former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty died today.
Jim Flaherty is pictured in this Canadian Press file photo.
“He was a decent man — very decent. Always measured, always low key. I never saw him angry,” Marshall said. “He was always extremely pleasant and a real gentleman.”
Flaherty died today following a massive heart attack, just a few weeks after he stepped down as the country’s finance minister.
Until he stepped down in March, Flaherty served as finance minister for eight years, starting in 2006
Marshall knew him well, because before he became premier, he was finance minister for many years and met regularly with Flaherty.
Speaking to the Telegram, Marshall said he remembered the first time he went to a national finance minister’s meeting in Meech Lake, during the equalization battles between then-premier Danny Williams and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“I had to give the first comments I would make with the other finance ministers in attendance, what was essentially an attack on the federal government. I gave that speech, and when it was over, there was a break,” Marshall said. “I turned around and he had come over and he smiled at me and he said, ‘You’ve got your job to do, and I’ve got mine.’”
Marshall said he would remember Flaherty as a policy-oriented politician, and somebody who kept a steady hand on the economy during the global recession.
“Because of that steady hand, it is that we weathered that worst global downturn in memory, and then our country under his leadership outperformed most other countries,” Marshall said.
Marshall also recalled the meals that they shared during finance minister’s meetings over the years.
“At these meetings, they’d always start with a dinner the night before the meetings really started, and we’d have a dinner and sit around a small table, and he used to have us go around the table and talk about our economies and what was happening,” Marshall said. “When I would tell him what was happening here in our province — now, I’m going back a few years — he would look at me and he would always say the same thing, ‘What an incredible story.’ You know, because he was used to dealing with finance minister from Newfoundland previously when he was Ontario’s finance minister and he would hear a tale of woe.”
Marshall spoke in the House of Assembly Thursday afternoon, after hearing about Flaherty’s death.
He said that he believes that the Newfoundland and Labrador economy is stronger, in part, because of Flaherty’s work as the finance minister of Canada.
“He was a steady hand, and I certainly enjoyed working with him,” Marshall told the Telegram.
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Commons suspended to mark death of Jim Flaherty: MP
THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA — Former finance minister Jim Flaherty has died suddenly at age 64.
The House of Commons abruptly suspended its sitting before question period began Thursday and Calgary MP Joan Crockatt tweeted news of Flaherty’s death.
Earlier, emergency vehicles were seen parked in front of Flaherty’s downtown Ottawa condo building.
Until he resigned from the cabinet last month, he had been the Harper government’s first and only finance minister.
He got the job in 2006 and held it through cabinet shuffles, economic turmoil and a bout with a rare skin disease that had him on steroids.
The condition was not thought to be life-threatening.
Former federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has died: reports
The Commons has suspended its work amid reports that former finance minister Jim Flaherty has died.