There were few people in the House of Commons closer to Jim Flaherty than Kellie Leitch.

She viewed the former finance minister, who died unexpectedly Thursday at the age of 64, as her mentor. The two MPs lived in the same building in Ottawa.

It was there that Leitch found Flaherty on Thursday after an apparent heart attack. She performed CPR on him but, sadly, was unable to revive her friend.

Friday, Leitch led tributes to Flaherty in the House. You can watch her heartbreaking speech in the video above and read the full text below.

Mr. Speaker, I ask everyone to pause and look at their dictionary this morning. Under Irish they will see a leprechaun with a twinkle in his eyes and fierce determination behind them, my good friend.

It is with sadness that I stand in this place of honour today to pay tribute to a great national leader, a colleague, a mentor, my champion and a very close friend, the Hon. James Michael Flaherty.

Am I remembered in Erin;
I charge you, speak me true;
Has my name a sound, a meaning;
In the scenes my boyhood knew;


Jim Flaherty’s name has a meaning for all Canadians, a meaning a respect, of passion for country, and empathy for others.

The deep sense of shock and loss we all felt at Jim’s passing yesterday tells us how much of a part of all of our lives he had become. Whatever our politics or local interest, Jim Flaherty was so clearly working hard every day for what he saw as our country’s economic interests.

As one of the country’s longest serving finance ministers and the longest serving Conservative finance minister, as he used to remind me regularly, Jim truly made a difference in the lives of Canadians, by lowering taxes, introducing initiatives such as the children’s fitness tax credit, and by creating the tax-free savings account and the registered disabilities savings plan.

His acute intellect, his immense compassion for the disadvantaged and the disabled, his global reach on international monetary and regulatory challenges were all part of his deep humanity and decency. He gave his all to serve a country he loved.

As he said just three weeks ago when he departed as the minister of finance, “We live in the greatest country in the world, and I want Canadians to know that it has been honour and privilege to serve.”

Despite his unwavering commitment to public service, Jim never lost sight of what was truly important. He loved his family, he loved his home town of Whitby, and he loved to kick back with a tall glass of Guinness, as often as he could.

Jim never forgot the humble working class roots that were established at the dinner table with his family in Lachine, Quebec. In fact, while attending Princeton, and later earning a law degree, Jim bussed tables in the cafeteria and drove a cab.

He believed in hard work, and I think he mentioned that often, and making a positive difference in the lives of Canadians. It was with this “can do” attitude that he became a mentor and champion for me personally, and for many of his colleagues, both in this place and abroad.

For me, I can speak to him being my champion on two specific occasions. I was at a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico of all places in 2006. He was a newly minted finance minister. He called me and asked me if I would chair a panel on the children’s fitness tax credit.

He said to me that they needed some health expertise, and that did not exist at Finance Canada. He wanted someone from the health care profession.

The opportunity that he granted me in doing that, a young Canadian, a Canadian who was but 35 years of age, was that I had my first experience of the development of excellent public policy. I could take my professional background and apply it to public policy, and millions of Canadians became the beneficiary.

I have been very privileged as an orthopedic surgeon. I meet hundreds of patients in clinic, children and parents, but public policy, as we all know in this place, impacts all Canadians in a meaningful way and he understood that.

He taught me that. It created a passion for me at one point in time, so that I would then move forward. Yet again, 2010, I was standing in clinic, and the short Irishman called me and said “I hear you’re running for office.” I said, “I am not running for office.” He said, “But I hear you are running for office”, in the kind of tone of “I have decided you are running for office”. I said to him “I don’t recognize an election going on right now. Maybe we should have a conversation about this.”

He explained to me the circumstances in my home riding and encouraged me to run in the nomination. He was persistent. It was not something I was wont to do. In fact, he called probably every day, if not every second day for five months. If you know his fierce determination as I do, I think many people in this place do, you finally just say “yes” because it is easier than taking the calls.

He often got his way that way, persistence being one of his great attributes. For that I had the opportunity to be involved in a nomination and now to stand in this place.

He reached out across Canada, across party lines, across business and labour divides to seek consensus and advance fairness, something I hope to emulate during my time in public service. I know no one who expresses that more than Jim Flaherty.

When the shocking and crushing news reached the chamber yesterday, I was delighted to hear that the long knives that typify question period in a competitive parliamentary system were set aside for a moment of common humanity, consolation and people reaching out to each other beyond partisan divisions.

The Jim Flaherty I knew, the Jim Flaherty we all know, would have approved of that. And for those who do not know, back in the late sixties, Jim did in fact canvas for Pierre Elliott Trudeau and he always used to say that his sister made him do it because he was the baby brother.

It was also a sad day when Jim recently retired as Minister of Finance, not only because we were losing the greatest finance minister this country has ever seen, but because his new seat assignment in the House of Commons was directly behind me. Time and time again over the last three weeks he teased me relentlessly, in fact vowed to make rabbit ears behind my head while I was speaking. Unfortunately, he never made it here.

Jim will be so very missed and not forgotten. He will be remembered for his big Irish smile, the twinkle in his eye, his wicked sense of humour and his trademark ties. And most importantly, his multiple public policy accomplishments over his nearly 20 years of public service.

His legacy is immense. I am confident that everyone in the chamber and every Canadian can point to something where Jim Flaherty touched their lives. His service was overwhelming, his friendship for those of us who benefited from its breadth, warmth, depth and humour was the ultimate definition of loyalty.

He loved his country and served it with a heart as big as the country itself. The gap he has left will not soon be filled.

My friend,

May the road rise up to meet you;
May the wind be always at your back;
May the sunshine warm upon your face;
May the rains fall upon your fields;
And until we meet again;
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.


To my dear friend, Jim, I loved you immensely my fierce friend and I will miss you forever.

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  • Jim Flaherty with his wife(left) after giving his speech at the Provincial Progressive Conservative Party Leadership Convention, held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Mar. 22, 2002 Photo by Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail

  • Jim Flaherty posing with the Stanley Cup while on the campaign trail for the provincial PC leadership at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Feb. 26, 2002 Photo by Louie Palu/The Globe and Mail

  • Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership candidate, Jim Flaherty, on Feb. 27, 2002 Photo by Tibor Kolley / The Globe and Mail

  • At the Ontario Progressive Conservative Leadership debate, Chris Stockwell looks on as Jim Flaherty, left, gets some last minute touch-up to his make-up. Picture taken on Feb.27, 2002. Photo by Tibor Kolley

  • Jim Flaherty becomes new Ontario finance minister, after Ernie Eves resigned from the post. New cabinet members were sworn in today, February 8, 2001, at Queen's Park. Photo by Patti Gower / The Globe and Mail.

  • Jim Flaherty becomes new Ontario finance minister, after Ernie Eves resigned from the post. New cabinet members were sworn in today, February 8, 2001, at Queen's Park. Photo by Patti Gower / The Globe and Mail.

  • Sunday. Mar.18/07. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will deliver the budget in Ottawa tomorrow.During a pre-budget photo op, he purchased a pair of Canadian-made skates for his son John (16) at Blades Custom Skate Care Inc. in Whitby, Ont. The skates are CCM Reebok 9K pump skates. The total price including all taxes was $456.00. Before the photo op he was scrummed by the media. Pictures taken on Mar.15/ 2007 Photo by Tibor Kolley

  • Canadian Finance minister Jim Flaherty smiles as he takes part in a conference during a meeting of the Group of eight (G8) Finance in Lecce on June 12, 2009. World powers launched a project on the sidelines of G8 talks to develop vaccines against pneumococcal diseases as part of a new market-based mechanism for the developing world. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tables the federal budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Thursday March 4, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

  • Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty shows a green shoe as he shops in Ottawa on March 28, 2012 for a new pair of shoes as part of the tradition of budget day. The tradition holds that Ministers of Finance purchase or wear new shoes when the budget is delivered. AFP PHOTO/ROGERIO BARBOSA (Photo credit should read ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty successfully exits an igloo outside the Nunavut legislature in Iqaluit, Canada during a break in proceedings at the G7 Finance Ministers Meeting, February 6, 2010. Moments earlier Minister Flaherty dislodged a large piece of snow from the entry way of another smaller igloo as he attempted to exit. AFP PHOTO/ GEOFF ROBINS (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks to reporters at the Port of Montreal, Monday, September 27, 2010. Flaherty insists the government will be "fair and reasonable" in assisting stimulus projects that are supposed to be complete by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

  • Hanoi, VIET NAM: Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (R) meets with his Vietnamese counterpart Vu Van Ninh during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC finances ministers' meeting held in Hanoi 07 September 2006. Pacific Rim finance ministers will this week push for renewed talks to free up global trade and pledge steps against terrorist financing, according to a draft of a joint statement. AFP PHOTO/HOANG DINH Nam AFP PHOTO/HOANG DINH Nam (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • France's Minister of the Economy, Industry and Employment Christine Lagarde (L), Canada's Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty (C) and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner attend the final press conference for the G7 Finance Ministers Meeting in Iqaluit, Canada, February 6, 2010. AFP PHOTO/ GEOFF ROBINS (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • From left: Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling watch as US President George W. Bush delivers a statement with G7 finance ministers and heads of international financial institutions October 11, 2008 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty poses for a photo following an interview in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 21, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit

  • Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper enter the House of Commons on budget day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, February 11, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle

  • Finance Minister Jim Flaherty appears during a news conference at the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on Monday, May 14, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

  • Finance Minister Jim Flaherty holds the last penny struck in Canada at the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, May 4, 2012. Flaherty announced in the March budget that the coin would no longer be produced because the cost of making it is more than it's worth. He has estimated that the government will save $11 million a year. Ian Bennett, president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint, smiles at left. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Woods)

  • Finance Minister Jim Flaherty holds the last penny struck in Canada at the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, May 4, 2012. Flaherty announced in the March budget that the coin would no longer be produced because the cost of making it is more than it's worth. He has estimated that the government will save $11 million a year. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Woods)

  • Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty arrives for a G-20 dinner, during the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund Thursday, April 18, 2013 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, left, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right look on as Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces funding for new subways in Toronto, Sunday, September 22, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

  • A emotional Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty listens to a speaker during an announcement in Ottawa, ON Friday October 21, 2011. (CP)

  • Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, March 3, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • The photo from the last tweet from Jim Flaherty's account.