FLAHERTY FINANCE MINISTERS 20081217 TOPIX

Former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty died Thursday at 64. (Geoff Howe/The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan political leaders are reacting with shock and sadness at news of the death of former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty.

"Our deepest condolences to Jim Flaherty's family and friends," Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said in a statement issued Thursday.  "We are saying goodbye too soon to a great public servant and a good man."

Ken Krawetz, Saskatchewan's finance minister noted Flaherty as a dedicated worker.

"Jim Flaherty was an extremely hard-working and likable individual," Krawetz said. "I know that after eight years as Finance Minister, he must have been really looking forward to his retirement from public life and the opportunity for more free time to spend with his family. That's what makes his passing so soon after stepping down so sad and so shocking."

Ralph Goodale, a Liberal Member of Parliament from Saskatchewan and former federal finance minister himself, said that despite political differences, Flaherty was a respected figure.

"There was just an incredible sense of common humanity and respect for an individual who gave his all in the service of his country," Goodale said. "He always had that impish, almost leprechaun style of his Irish heritage of which he was so proud. I think all of us could tell for the last number of months, that that little 'leprechaun' was missing. And we were all very worried about his personal situation."

Flaherty, who resigned last month as federal finance minister, died of an apparent heart attack at age 64.