I must say that all Canadians regardless of political stripe, politicians and even the news agencies, both gossip and more mainstream respectful adhered to some kind mourning protocol following the sudden death of finance minister Jim Flaherty and stuck to it for a while after his state funeral. All of these human beings chose to talk about the man rather than his somewhat controversial time as the longest finance minister to hold the cabinet post in Canadian history to date; all but the highest ranking Conservative Party of Canada MP, prime minister Stephen Harper. I would suggest that with the state funeral over and Jim Flaherty resting peacefully and his family having had their chance to mourn the death of a loving father and husband; his colleagues have had a chance to mourn a trusted ally and friend and the opposition parties a respected opponent they did not often agree with, that the time for all of respectful non discussion over Jim Flaherty’s actions and the way it will affect the average Canadian citizen for a long time to come needs to begin, because life in the real world must carry on. I would suggest that it is time to get back to business and talk plainly, about a finance minister who brought in omnibus bill after omnibus bill and changed Canada into a country that not many Canadians recognize and many a foreign nation has learned to disrespect and mistrust. Todays Canada in terms of diplomacy, social services, foreign aid, immigration and environmental policies reflects the cold, heartless ideals a priorities of a Scrooge; concerned so much with the amassing of money, or his account ledger that he could not see the suffering of the people around him, or that the joy that money spent in the right way could bring to those less fortunate than himself and that charity and the act of giving hope to those that life has knocked down was not a waste, or a misuse of the public purse. Jim Flaherty like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz had no heart, but in this case instead of nothing he was cursed with a calculator where his heart should have been.
I wish that the most fragile of Canadians did not have to live with what Jim Flaherty left behind in terms of:
Cuts to every social program in this country
The hardships he placed on charitable organizations,
The dumping of the federal governments monetary obligations to every Canadian on the provinces.
Old Age Security—available at age 67, up from the current 65.
The capping of health-care spending by Ottawa as of 2017, with provinces being told to make their own adjustments.
- Speeding up of regulatory reviews with the intent to expedite environmental approvals for pipelines.
- Changing immigration laws to favor admissions to Canada giving priority to the needs of business by addressing labour shortages, rather than prioritising things like family reunification and immigration on compassionate grounds (refugee claimants).
I cannot deny that we came out of the recession better monetarily then most of the G7 countries, but I have found it necessary as the reader can see above and below this paragraph to ask myself at what cost to Canada’s most fragile of citizens has this achievement come. Jim Flaherty in his role as finance minister proved to have only a calculator where his heart should have been and so was incapable of empathizing, or sympathising with the needs of Canada’s most fragile citizens and this is what I mean:
- It seemed as though it was nothing for Jim Flaherty to insist that his government save money, by closing veteran’s help offices at a time when our veterans were committing suicide in record numbers.
- It seemed as though it was nothing for Jim Flaherty to insist that his government save money through the firing, or letting go of over 2000 public servants even though he knew that it was the most fragile in the country that would suffer the most in terms of service delivery from lack of on front line personnel to do the work
- It seemed as though it was nothing for Jim Flaherty to insist that his government save money by reducing the government’s obligational contribution percentage share of monies to the public servants retirement health plan from 70% to 50% and upping by force the already retired public servants share to 50% from 30% even though he knew that most retired civil servants were just getting by and that this extra cost would leave them trying to decide what bill not to pay in order to get their medications, or perhaps being forced into not eating properly.
- It seemed as though it was nothing for Jim Flaherty to insist that his government save money by making search and rescue voluntary even though he knew that effective and timely search and rescue is best accomplished when trained professionals are doing it.
- It seemed as though it was nothing for Jim Flaherty to insist that his government save money by freezing unemployment premiums at a time when he knew that to do so would be giving business a break that they do not need, while creating a financial burden if not crisis for hard-working Canadians finding themselves out of work, because of his government cuts.
What I am getting at is that although Jim Flaherty maybe considered a great economist and the measures he took should balance the budget, I fins that again I must ask, “How could he have done all of this on the backs of Canada’s most fragile of citizens, if he had even the smallest of hearts?” Jim Flaherty may very well be respected and have received many awards and accolades worldwide as one of the best numbers crunchers and finance ministers in the world, but I am saying he has nothing to be proud of, because I believe that he achieved all of his monetary goals and achievements to the Canadian economy off of the backs of the poor, the elderly, the unemployed and the sick, while taking it easy on big business and the wealthy. I further make the assertion that no matter how many accolades the prime minister heaps on top of the pile, or how many fake tears flow from the prime minister’s lying eyes, Jim Flaherty will always be remembered by me and a lot of Canadians as the most heartless finance minister that Canadians have had to endure without pause, or relief in the history of Canada.
One might ask, since ex-finance minister Jim Flaherty left his cabinet post in what appeared to be a dispute with prime minister Harper over income splitting why would prime minister Harper bestow an honor as high as a state funeral on Jim Flaherty? I would bet the farm that it had nothing to do with the fact that they were 2 heartless peas in the same pod, but rather that he wanted to squeeze the last bit of possible political influence he could out of the man. Another reason I think that Jim Flaherty got the state funeral is that Stephen Harper is not one to let a good photo opportunity go to waste when it presents itself like, the Ukraine crisis, the Lac Megantic trail derailment, or his visits to First Nations and Inuit communities.
Getting back to the one person who could not find it in himself to just mourn Jim Flaherty the man, I must say that I was a disgusted with the prime ministers good-bye to Jim speech in the church. While all other political parties refrained from making bad statements about Jim Flaherty the finance minister and kept their public commentary to Jim Flaherty the man, Stephen Harper seized upon the opportunity to do a little pre-election campaigning using the state funeral as a back drop, or prop. Stephen Harper got up in the church and pushed his government’s Economic Plan and his own good stewardship, instead of speaking to Jim Flaherty the man? The state funeral was a fine example of how heartless, how cold and how impersonal Stephen Harper truly is. Exploit an opportunity to the very end, no matter the cost to anyone else personally, or professionally, or politically. I believe that to Stephen Harper everything and everyone are tools to be exploited for his personal and professional gain and to that end Jim Flaherty and the State funeral were no different.
I understand that Jim Flaherty had a soft spot for challenged children and sought to quietly help them and make their lives a little easier by putting benefits for them in is many omnibus budget bills, so at least some Canadians will think of his time in office fondly. Unfortunately though I think that Jim Flaherty will go down in Canadian history and remembered by most Canadians as little more than a good and faithful company man and a loyal hatchet man, one of the many used by the prime minister to do his dirty work for him. Big business will remember him fondly for giving them all of the tax breaks they did not need and for breaking Canada’s unions and making it illegal, or at least damn near impossible to strike. Everyone that lives has a legacy when they die and I think that it is what type of legacy you leave then that becomes important. Jim Flaherty’s legacy as a politician and as the longest finance minister to hold uninterrupted office will be that he did not have a heart, but instead had a calculator where his heart should have been.