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April 15, 2014

Rose Simpson: Let's humanize Jim Flaherty, not lionize him

Rose Simpson's column appears every Tuesday morning on the OttawaStart Blog. She also blogs at Rose's Cantina. You can read her previous columns here.

Cotton Candy Clouds
Cotton Candy Clouds by David Johnson, from the OttawaStart Flickr Group


I wonder if I'm the only person in Canada who is creeped out by all the fuss over the unfortunate demise of Jim Flaherty.

I cried a few tears when I heard he had passed, as I would for anyone who had been struck down so suddenly. Poor guy, I thought. Poor wife. Poor kids. For most people, that would be it, a funeral, a wake, some hugs and nice rembrances.

But the outpouring of grief is simply over the top for me. He was a politician, by all accounts, a nice guy, a person who liked to kiss the blarney stone more than his doctor might have allowed.

Jim Flaherty was a guy with a bad ticker who worked too hard, drank too much and didn't watch his cholesterol.

Yet somehow our country has been hurled into a weird ritual of national mourning that is bound to go on for weeks. Most of us didn't know Jim Flaherty and only saw him on budget day when he brought in a mixed bag of programs that a lot of us didn't agree with. There was more money for prisons under Flaherty, bad decisions on defence spending while cutting back on the human side of soldiering, the gutting of the CBC, excruciatingly oppressive energy and food costs, the loss of good jobs to McJobs. Well, I could go on.

All his drinking buddies in the Press Gallery lauded him for saving Canada from a depression, yet it still looks like a depression from where I'm sitting. Half my family is unemployed while the other half is under-employed. Oh yes, and he's making people my age work longer.

So forgive me for refusing to lionize the guy. He wasn't Jim Almighty; he was just a better than average finance minister whom people liked personally. He did good things for some people, other people not so much.

And while we're at it, let's not idolize somebody who died because he didn't take care of himself. He wasn't called to his job. God didn't send down tablets to him. He wasn't Moses or even Noah. He was a politician who had a bit of a God complex who stayed up too late, rode around in limos and private jets and ate and drank at the very best establishments.

Nobody asked him to stay on until the deficit was vanquished. He should have listened to his doctor, reduced his stress levels, and taken more time to smell the roses.

Now he can't and that, my friends, is a cautionary tale.

If you were Jim Flaherty standing at the pearly gates and St. Peter asked you if you have any regrets, what would you say?

I don't think anybody would wish they had spent more time as finance minister.


-- Rose Simpson



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