Jim Flaherty dies suddenly at home

Former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty is dead at the age of 64.
EMS services were called to Flaherty’s home in Ottawa at 12:37 p.m. on Apr. 10. The cause of death is a massive heart attack, according to a CBC report.

Flaherty served as Prime Minister Harper’s only finance minister up until a month ago when he surprised the Conservative Party by resigning. At the time, Flaherty said he was planning to return to work in the private sector.

He is credited with steering Canada through the great recession of recent years. Flaherty was tapped by Prime Minister Harper for the finance minister position after winning the member of parliament seat for Whitby-Oshawa in 2006.

While minister of finance, Flaherty regularly made tough decisions that were not popular within his own party. The most controversial was his sudden decision on Oct. 31, 2006 to change the tax rules on Canadian income trusts.

He felt the special structure under which the trusts operated allowed them to siphon off too much tax revenue from the government.

That decision is known as the “Halloween massacre” because the value of companies operating as income trusts dropped dramatically overnight. Many of the income trusts were held by Canadian seniors as key sources of income.

At the time, critics thought the decision would sink the Conservatives in the next election. It didn’t, and they won a majority.

Flaherty had been battling health problems over the past year.

Canadians of all political persuasions sent their condolences to Flaherty’s family.

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