Canadians bid farewell to Jim Flaherty, former finance minister
By Cameron French
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's political elite and hundreds of well-wishers paid final respects to former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty at a state funeral on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper depicting Flaherty as a man who put his own needs aside in the service of his country.
Flaherty's death of a heart attack last week shocked Canadians, coming less than a month after the 64-year-old stepped down after eight years running the country's finances.
Well-wishers packed St. James Cathedral in downtown Toronto, wearing green scarves in tribute to Flaherty's Irish heritage, which he often referenced. He typically wore a green tie for big announcements.
"He was a man who was highly principled and ruthlessly pragmatic, combative but engaging, smart, very smart, and educated, while never assuming that he knew it all," Harper, wearing a green tie, told the crowd.
Flags at government buildings in Ottawa and at the Toronto headquarters of the country's banks flew at half-staff in tribute to a man credited with shepherding Canada's economy and banking system through the financial crisis of the last decade.
In a humor-filled eulogy, Harper noted Flaherty's own self-deprecating sense of humor, which often focused on the finance minister's diminutive stature.
"But short as he was, upon the world stage, he often strode like a giant," Harper said.
The third longest serving finance minister in Canadian history, Flaherty assumed the job when Harper's Conservative Party took power in February 2006. Continued...