Passings: Jim Flaherty was one of Osgoode’s most accomplished graduates

Jim Flaherty speaking at York University during the opening of the newly renovated Osgoode Hall Law School Building
Jim Flaherty speaking at York University during the opening of the newly renovated Osgoode Hall Law School Building

Osgoode Hall Law School at York University has lost one of its most accomplished graduates with the death of Jim Flaherty (LLB ’73). Mr. Flaherty died peacefully at his Ottawa home on April 10.

He was a third term Member of Parliament for Whitby-Oshawa (Ontario), first elected in 2006. Until March 2014, he served as Canada’s Minister of Finance and Minister Responsible for the Greater Toronto Area. He was one of Canada’s longest serving ministers of finance.

“We’ve lost one of the law school’s and the University’s most accomplished graduates, a dedicated leader and a fine human being,” said Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin.

In 1970, Flaherty was a book-toting Osgoode student by day and a taxi driver by night.  He drove a cab three nights a week and during the summer to help pay tuition and kept his priorities straight. “It keeps you grounded when you deal with all kinds of folks who take taxis, especially on Friday and Saturday nights in Toronto,” Flaherty said in an interview in 2003 with Osgoode’s Continuum alumni magazine.

Flaherty attended the 40th reunion of the Osgoode Class of 1973 last October and was a great friend of the law school. He was a driving force behind the scenes, helping Osgoode to secure $25 million from the Federal-Provincial Knowledge Infrastructure Program for its 2010-2011 building renovation and construction project.

Flaherty returned to Osgoode on April 18, 2012 – along with Gregory Sorbara (then MPP, Vaughan), York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, and philanthropist and businessman Ignat Kaneff – to officially open the newly renovated Osgoode building.

“Our government’s support for post-secondary education has not only made a difference in the short term, but has also set the stage for future prosperity,” Flaherty said. “The investment at Osgoode Hall Law School created jobs for people in Toronto at a critical time, while improving the infrastructure that the school will need to maintain its reputation as an advanced learning leader.”

In addition to his role in Parliament, Flaherty served as a governor of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.  As Minister of Finance, he also was an ex-officio member of all Cabinet Committees. Previously, from 1995 to 2005, Flaherty served as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Whitby – Ajax. In Ontario, he served as Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance, Attorney General and Minister of Labour.

He graduated from Princeton University cum laude and Osgoode Hall Law School. He was called to the bar in Ontario with honours and practised law for more than 20 years before being elected to public office.

Flaherty leaves his wife Christine Elliott, who serves as a Member of the Provincial Parliament for the same riding, Whitby-Oshawa, and their triplet sons.

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