August 19, 2014
Rose Simpson: Jim Flaherty wouldn't want us to pay for his funeral
Photo: Parliament Hill by David Johnson, from the OttawaStart Flickr Group
Rose Simpson's column appears most Tuesday mornings on the OttawaStart Blog. She also blogs at Rose's Cantina.
This might make some people uncomfortable.
Canadians don't like other people knowing their business especially things like how much it costs to bury their beloved relatives.
Oh well, the cost of this particular funeral is in the public record.
In other words, you and I paid for it.
Most funerals that are paid for by the state are for people on welfare, or for the homeless to give every family some dignity in their time of grief.
But this funeral was not that kind of funeral.
It was a state funeral, the kind usually reserved for kings or queens, prime ministers or Governors General.
I'm am writing, of course, about the state funeral for Jim Flaherty, the one we paid $400,000 for.
Frankly I was shocked when I saw that number. And I think Jim Flaherty would have been shocked, too.
In fact, I have no trouble saying that if he'd heard about it when he was alive, he would have died of shame.
Jim Flaherty was a well known penny pincher. He loved saving money for the Canadian taxpayer.
He saw it as his legacy.
How to explain then, in death, why he needed to wear the Emperor's clothes, and let us host a lavish booze up for people he either didn't know or didn't like.
Hmm. I didn't get an invite, not even a drink ticket but my pennies paid for suites at the Royal York, double decker buses, flat screens and private receptions for the swells.
How could Flaherty justify this little number in Part III of the Spending Estimates?
The answer is, he didn't sign off on it.
The prime minister did.
Jim Flaherty was one day minding his own business, shining up his golf clubs, hoisting a few with buddies and the next thing he knew he was tying up traffic with a $400,000 police presence and detail.
He wouldn't have liked it. He would say the expense couldn't be justified.
He'd say "who do you think I am, Allison Redford?"
Jim Flaherty had some cash stashed away. He had life insurance.
He didn't need the state to pay for things.
Some would argue that Jim Flaherty deserved this kind of send off. After all, the government paid for a funeral for Jack Layton, too.
To which I say, Jack Layton could have paid for his own funeral, too.
As my granny would say: "who does he think he is -- the King of England?
Look, I just watched two of my dear friends, who didn't have a pot to piss in -- no insurance, nada -- bury their husbands. One had to borrow the money from her mom. The other had to use a pay equity settlement, one she waited for more than 20 years to bury her guy.
The state didn't give a rat's ass about their bills.
But it didn't mind reaching into their pockets to bury Jim Flaherty who would have been happy to rent the local legion on his own dime and buy a round for everybody.
We need to put an end to these state funerals and put the money to better use, like upping the amount Canada Pension Plan pays families to plant their loved ones.
Let's remember our beloved politicians the way ordinary Canadians remember their family members.
In the mind's eye.
-- Rose Simpson
See also: Ottawa Media Guide
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