And every year after that, without any prompting from me, the call would come and Jim would say, “Prime Minister, I’m still worried about the global economy and we’re not yet in balance. I want to do one more budget.”
And so he did year after year, work away on the next phase of the Economic Action Plan, even as, in the past couple of years, it became more and more difficult for him, and sometimes hard to watch, as everyone of you could plainly see.
Yet, let me tell you, when it mattered Jim was always up to it.
He always came to our budget meetings prepared, ready to play the game, always willing to mix it up in the corners.
And in the process, year after year, he deliberately set his own plans aside and put off his goals for his family.
Because, at heart, Jim wasn’t in this, as is the stereotype, for money or for power.
Jim was driven by conviction, of loyalty to the cause and of duty to the country.
He believed he had taken on a responsibility for all of our families, not just his own and he was prepared to make sacrifices ultimately, although he did not know it, to sacrifice himself.
This year, when I looked at the state of the markets and the numbers in the budget, I knew that, when Jim’s call came, it would be different.
And so, a few weeks ago in my office, I accepted his resignation and I told Jim the following:
I told Jim that the meeting back in 2005 had been one of the best decisions of my political career, one of the most important for this government, and one of the most meaningful ever for our country.
That he had done a great job, accomplished what he set out to do, and that I understood and appreciated the sacrifice that it had entailed.
And I told Jim that he had truly been over these eight years, in my judgement, the best Finance Minister in the world, if not indeed, the best in our history.
I also wished him well in his next career and told him not to be a stranger.
Friends, I admit to you that I do not grieve for Jim.
I know that for Jim, the Lord has prepared a place where he can be free from the afflictions of recent times and in joy.
No, my friends, when a good one leaves, grief is for those who are left behind.
So, one more word for those, specifically for John and Galen and Quinn, “the boys,” as your father always called you.
Let me just say this.
I lost my own father almost exactly to the day, 11 years ago.
From that period, I remember almost nothing of what I said or what was said to me, so powerful were the waves of emotion.
But once that passed, and perspective took hold, I came to appreciate my father’s place in my life, probably even more fully and deeply than if he were still here.
And it is all good. And it will be for you.
You are no longer “the boys”.
You are young men.
Hold on to your mother, hold on to your father’s lessons, and hold to the knowledge that there are many present and beyond who are there for you and will be there for you as you continue on your own journeys.
And, I say once again, from Laureen and my family and from all my colleagues, God bless you, the family, and farewell to our friend, Jim.
On behalf of a grateful country, we thank you.
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