Two people who served with Jim Flaherty in cabinet at Queen's Park say they will remember the former federal finance minister — who died suddenly Thursday at age 64 — as a principled politician who was fierce, funny and compassionate.
Ernie Eves, who defeated Flaherty in a leadership race for the provincial PCs in 2002, and Janet Ecker, who served with Flaherty in cabinet, appeared on CBC Radio's Metro Morning Friday.
Both spoke of Flaherty's accomplishments in office and his unique character.
"He had a terrific sense of humour," said Eves. "His Irish heritage certainly came through on many occasions."
"He liked a good scrap, he was an avid sportsman but most of all, he cherished his family."
Eves lamented that Flaherty's death came just weeks after his resignation as finance minister. Flaherty had been facing health challenges, but at the time of his resignation said he was leaving politics to pursue opportunities in the private sector and spend more time with his family.
"The really unfortunate part about this … is that Jim had just stepped down and he was now looking forward to spending some real quality time with his family and unfortunately, that's been taken away from him," said Eves.
Ecker praised Flaherty, who represented the riding of Whitby-Oshawa, for making "the right calls" when the economic crisis of 2008 threatened Canada's economy.
"Not every country had the leadership quality that we did," said Ecker. "It mattered and it made a great difference in Canada's economy."
"He's probably going to go down as one of the most successful finance ministers in this country's history."