Jim Flaherty's death hit me hard, just as it did others.
As Minister of Finance for eight years, he was a classy member of Canada's government during difficult economic times. Many have given tribute for his contribution in bringing us though the recession.
I'm grateful that, within three months of my election, Jim accepted my invitation to visit our riding, where he highlighted the biggest town hall I've ever witnessed.
Due to his personal appeal; the importance of his role as Finance Minister; and the trying nature of the times, 450 people attended the event. I sat beside him as, in characteristic form, he listened intently to each of the 70 speakers, taking copious notes.
At the town hall, he did as I saw him do on countless occasions afterwards -act graciously, compassionately, with good humor and intelligence. He went out of his way to find good things to say, even about those who disagreed with him.
Jim was also a testament to the dividend that comes from a great education. In having a strong liberal arts background and legal education, he was trained to understand the value of other people's perspectives.
He left great memories of what is possible even in the sometimes nasty nature of partisan politics. By his strong character and positive attitude, he inspired me and many others in a true commitment to service.
The outpouring of grief and affection is a strong reminder of what Canadians really crave from our politicians - people who approach the policies and votes of the day with sensitivity, courage, intelligence, and compassion.
I will miss him as a mentor, a friend and great leader.
John Weston, M.P.
West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea to Sky Country
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