Friday, 11 April 2014

Jim Flaherty is not dead, only in Ireland (or Michigan)

One ought not to speak ill of the dead, nor inflict more grief on the aggrieved.  Still, the instant hagiography surrounding Jim Flaherty will attach some burrs.

Through his actions to protect himself, Jim Flaherty gleefully destroyed the lives of others.  He knew it, he loved it, and he did it for partisan, un-Canadian purposes.

This, this was the man who so hated Canada, who was so vilely partisan, that he actually said that Ontario was the worst place in the world to do business.  Even his far-right comperes suggested that it was unpragmatic, foolish, and childish of him to be so ideologically bound that he actually sought to destroy the finances of his own country.  For smearing Canada around the world, now he is hailed.  (


Like it or not, Canada, from wherever you sit in SK or BC or no matter how your electoral map is being gerrymandered by the poil on your butts, Ontario matters to this country and it matters to you if you are Canadian.

I don’t think that politicians in Ireland or the United States step out to make partisan speeches bent on damaging their own countries, as Flaherty did.  This was a man whose ideology was so pure that he would take money from Canadian citizens and then burn it in front of them while he, as finance minister, told the rest of the world that they should have nothing to do with Canada.  Canada doesn’t need any more patriots like that.  Go be finance minister of Ireland, and find out how sweet that pie tastes.  Fact is, Jim Flaherty had a peachy job and he profited from hating Canada around the world; his family and children will be able to retire to Ireland in ways few Irish, or Canadian citizens, can imagine.  Pity the man hated Canada so, for purely ideological and partisan reasons.

Flaherty, of course, was pivotal in driving Ontario into the ground.  When Bob Rae opened David Peterson’s books and realized what calamities confronted him, Bob Rae did the right thing.  He increased spending and he raised taxes.  Jim Flaherty slavishly emulated the correct Bob Rae years later (handing out money to banks and auto companies and so on while demanding that CANADIAN taxpayers, not the banks or the companies and their foreign-controlled head offices, pay it all back), all the while smugly hating Canada and regretting Canada’s un-Tory taxation across the world stage.  Jim Flaherty ate the very vomit he spewed on others, and never with a twinkle in his eye.  No, his eyes were elsewhere—on the big job in the U.S., or the misty motherland of Ireland.  Flaherty, of course, sought, as Mike Harris’s henchman, to drive Ontario further into the ground and cripple its economic might by undermining its public sector and infrastructure and human capital.  But, like criminal entitlement chief Tony Clement, he was all ok with gazebos in the riding that got him elected and paid his pension and secured his family (and ONLY his and his family alone) for generations (   Jim Flaherty learned entitlement the right way—a long affiliation with Conservatives who sucked money from working Canadians while telling those Canadians that they had to work harder (to support Jim Flaherty and HIS family).

Now, here’s where I begin to support Jim Flaherty.  He was such a dyed-in-the-any-country-but-Canada-wool ideologue that it was amazing to see him actually start to smarten up, well, well into middle age, and realize that, yes, he actually did, kind of, have some responsibilities.  Clearly, it came as a tremendous shock to an ideologue like Jim Flaherty that he actually had to sit around the world table with world finance ministers who were—SHOCK—actually concerned about and not denigrating of their own countries.  This must have baffled Jim Flaherty beyond belief—the idea that one could act on behalf of others who *didn’t* pay you to get re-elected. It is a long way from Whitby. I think Jimbo was astonished and taken aback by this, this idea that a world (yes, a world) existed outside cheap dirty nasty Conservative auto-town politics.  Perhaps for the first time in his life, well into his 40s, he might have realized that his actions weren’t just about making his family rich, but that they could also implicate other people.  Jim Flaherty might have met his own neighbours for the first time in his 50s!! To that end, he made a sober and unpopular decision around income trusts.  As he left office, he meekly queried Conservative ideology about income-splitting, a financial game designed to enrich Conservative supporters and disempower Canadians.  When we think we’re approaching our Maker, we all get a bit teary eyed and reflect on what we’ve done.  Jim Flaherty’s last gesture, as he dealt with illness, was (before his heartfelt and teary-eyed paean to the true Tory criminal entitlement achievements of the Fords) to realize that, in the end, all of his ideology and all of his hatred that he spewed on others could come home to roost, even on him.  He, too, could die, and not enjoy the fruits of his taxationlessness.  Most Canadians aren’t like Jim Flaherty and his family; few will ever enjoy the benefits he and his family have enjoyed and will enjoy, despite his modest attainments outside of politics. 

Jim Flaherty’s passing ought to be a lesson to all Conservative ideologues, including the present poil on our body politic: you may never live to enjoy the hatred you have spewed on others, so might as well try to be decent and live while you can.

On a completely personal note, I liked Flaherty more as he aged.  He was a Conservative ideologue slowly accustoming himself to the complexities of the world—and unlike many fellow travellers, he seemed to accept that challenge.  He went from a child to a man and then death, and we will all find our ways there, severally and individually.





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