Former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty dead at 64

Former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty dead at 64

Jim Flaherty, former finance minister, has passed away at the age of 64.

Sources indicate Flaherty passed away due to a massive heart attack.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said "today is a sad day," calling the late finance minister both his friend and partner.

“I learned a short time ago our colleague and friend Jim Flaherty died very suddenly today,” Harper said; his wife, Laureen, wiping tears from her cheek. "This comes as an unexpected and a terrible shock to Jim's family, to our caucus and to Laureen and me."

Emergency crews were called to Flaherty's home in Ottawa Thursday afternoon, and reports that Flaherty was in "grave condition" quickly began to emerge. Police ordered reporters to step aside from the door to Flaherty's condo building "out of respect," CBC reports.

The Toronto Star has released a statement from Flaherty's family:

"Christine Elliott and her triplet sons, John, Galen and Quinn would like to make Canadians aware that her beloved husband and father passed away peacefully today in Ottawa.

"We appreciate that he was so well supported in his public life by Canadians from coast to coast to coast and by his international colleagues.

"The family asks for privacy at this time."

[ Related: Remembering Jim Flaherty: Reaction on Twitter ]

The House of Commons had been suspended just before the daily question period was set to begin at 2:15 p.m. ET. Many cabinet ministers refused to comment as they passed through a throng of reporters on Parliament Hill. Some of the MPs appeared to be emotional, CBCreports.

"After consultations among House leaders, there is general agreement the House will now suspend," Speaker Andrew Scheer shared with MPs, according to CBC.

Opposition MPs walked across the floor in the House of Commons to offer their condolences to Conservative MPs.

A visibly shaken Thomas Mulcair addressed the media in the lobby.

"Catherine and I want to express ... our profound sadness at the departure of our friend Jim Flaherty," the NDP leader said.

Flaherty resigned as finance minister less than a month ago, stepping down from cabinet as he had planned on returning to the private sector. He had spent nearly two years fighting health issues.

"He had been suffering acutely from a rare skin disease but when he resigned he denied his resignation had anything to do with health," Reuters reports.

When announcing his resignation on March 18, Flaherty said, "I am happy to report that I am on the road to a full recovery and the decision to leave politics was not related in any way to my health."