Jim Flaherty state funeral to be held Wednesday in Toronto
Normally reserved for sitting ministers, prime minister can offer distinction to eminent Canadians
Former finance minister Jim Flaherty,who shepherded Canada's finances for the eight years before his death on Thursday, will be honoured with a state funeral next Wednesday in Toronto.
The Prime Minister's Office announced the April 16 funeral on Friday.
The honour is normally reserved for sitting ministers, but the prime minister can offer the distinction to the families of eminent Canadians.
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A statement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the public funeral ceremony for Flaherty was in recognition of the former finance minister's years of dedicated service to Canadians.
Book of condolences
"Jim was a great friend and colleague, a dedicated family man, and an extraordinary minister of finance who sacrificed an enormous amount in his years of service to Canada and to Canadians,” he said. “He will be remembered with great affection and respect. Jim and his family remain in our thoughts and our prayers at this difficult time.”
More details about the funeral are expected to be released in the coming days.
In the meantime, Canadians are invited to sign a book of condolences on Parliament Hill.
Flaherty will become the latest in a tradition of Canadian state funerals that began in 1868 with Thomas D'Arcy McGee, an Ireland-born nationalist who became a member of Parliament and was assassinated on the streets of Ottawa after a late night of debate in the Commons.
Jack Layton, the late NDP leader who was the head of the Official Opposition when he died in August 2011, was given a state funeral and lying-in-state in Parliament Hill's hall of honour.
Flaherty died of a heart attack Thursday. Colleagues, including opposition MPs, are remembering him as a generous friend who could spar heatedly with someone in Parliament and later laugh over a drink outside the House of Commons.
McGee, Layton, and now Flaherty, are the only three Canadians accorded a state funeral since Confederation beyond the prescribed list, according a list provided by Canadian Heritage.
To date, 15 prime ministers, eight governors general and 10 cabinet ministers have been given state funerals since McGee's in 1868.
With files from The Canadian Press