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Read Stephen Harper's eulogy for former finance minister Jim Flaherty Add to ...

Below is a transcript of the eulogy delivered by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Toronto Wednesday.

Read our recap of the funeral for former finance minister Jim Flaherty.

As I said last week, what a sad time this is in the life of our country.

 Only a few weeks ago, we had the occasion to issue political tributes to an extraordinary colleague upon the announcement of his intention to retire from public life, with the full expectation of another life ahead of him.

 Little did we know that we would be here today, with that future torn from him, and for us to deliver more profound reflections.

 This has been a traumatic event for many of us, but, of course, none more so than Jim’s family ...

… Quinn, Galen, John, and especially Christine, we have lost a partner in politics, but you have lost a partner in life.

 The turnout these past couple of days may be of small consolation, but it is the tip of the iceberg in an ocean of deep admiration and affection for Jim, and of much goodwill, kind thoughts and many prayers for you.

 Please, take that to heart and God bless you.

For, I say, we have all lost a remarkable figure.

There are so many ways I could describe The Honourable Jim Flaherty.

 He was a man who highly principled and ruthlessly pragmatic, combative but engaging, smart and educated, while never assuming that he knew it all.

 He could be hard-headed, yet also soft-hearted.

 He could display a quick and biting temper, but, far more often, a deep and gentle sense of humour.

 He particularly enjoyed – and delivered – many jokes about his own shortness.

 He quipped that he never got in the way of his own power points, but, short as he was, upon the world stage he strode like a giant.

 I do not say these things to imply that Jim was a contradictory person.

He was not in any way.

As a human being he was the complete package.

 

And, I am sure, these last few days, he has been genuinely enjoying all the tributes and some of them he even believes.

But, in all seriousness, it is a fact that Jim, as fiercely partisan as he was – and he was -- was also genuinely liked and respected by his opponents, liked by his enemies.

 That’s something in this business, something I envy - I can’t even get my friends to like me.

 There has been much talk about Jim’s record and legacy, especially the softer side of that record.

 

Jim was not much for handouts.

 

But, as a true conservative, he believed in helping people who could not help themselves, or who had suffered misfortune.

 And he especially believed in a hand up for those who needed, but only lacked, an opportunity, which is why he had a particular passion for, among others, the disabled.

 I believe no single politician in the life of this country has done more for the disabled and their families than Jim Flaherty.

 I could point to numerous initiatives, but Jim was most proud of his role in building the Durham Abilities Centre, dismissed by some at the time as a pork-barrel project, but now recognized as a tremendous regional institution and monument to a noble and truly passionately believed cause.

 However, when all is said and done, Jim’s most important contribution to our country, without doubt, came by virtue of his long service as Minister of Finance, especially by virtue of being Minister of Finance during and after the great global recession of 2008-2009.

 I ask you to indulge me for a few moments to talk about that role, because we are talking about Jim making history, and I had the ultimate, front-row seat.

 It began back in the fall of 2005.

 Mutual friends told me that Jim Flaherty wanted to come to see me to talk about his political future.

 I had met Jim many times, but knew him really only through the strong, positive, testimony of others.

 We had lunch in my office.

 Jim told me he wanted a change and was interested in federal politics, but was a bit sheepish about the fact he had not supported my leadership campaign.

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