So long, Jim. Easter is why I know I'll see you again
I simply can’t believe it that you’re “gone”; in fact, I don’t believe it.
Not sure you’ve seen all the media coverage last week, but it has been spectacular and 99% positive. The best media week you’ve ever had.
Remember when you were Mike Harris’s Labour Minister and you were castigated as an enemy of workers and working families for trying to bring wage costs under control, especially those of the public service? Well, this week Tom Mulcair, the NDP leader, almost broke down paying tribute to you and I think he was sincere.
And remember when you brought down those federal stimulus budgets after the financial meltdown in 2008 and were castigated by many of our true blue conservative friends for seemingly “departing from the faith?” (We discussed how strange it was that conservative economists who are usually so good with numbers couldn’t understand the impossibility of getting a restraint budget through a minority parliament in which the stimulators outnumbered the restrainers 165 to 143.)
Well, most of them too, have been fulsome in their praise of your overall record as a Finance Minister, and rightly so.
It’s Easter this week, which brings me back to why I don’t think you’re really “gone.” When I started out in university I studied physics and one of the few things that stuck with me is the Law of Conservation of Energy and Mass – that all the “matter” in the universe never really disappears though it may change from one form to another.
So I was having lunch a few months ago with a dear friend – someone who once sat in cabinet with you – whose daughter had tragically died of cancer. He’s never professed to be religious, but he said, “I know she’s gone physically, but somehow I feel she still exists.”
Of course, according to the physicists, all the atomic elements – the hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, etc. that made up her physical being do in fact still exist, have existed for over 13 billion years according to the big bangers, and will continue to exist for another 13 billion plus years, though not in human form. And if that is the case, is it not just possible that that unique, non-physical part of her which made her who she was to her friends and family – her spirit or soul or whatever the proper label is – also continues to exist in some form or another?
It’s the existence of that unique, non-physical, spiritual part of you, Jim – those elements of your being and persona that people continue to remember and talk about even though you’re not physically present – that prevent me from believing that you’re really “gone.”
Jesus of Nazareth, who was betrayed by a rogue finance minister – that Judas fellow the gospel writer John says was in charge of the money bag and stole from it – spoke on this subject in his last address to his twelve-man caucus. He told them he was going to die but live again in another form, and “Because I live, you too will live.”
Faith in that declaration and the one who gave it sustained them in their darkest hour and gave meaning and purpose to the rest of their lives. It is my hope and prayer that similar faith will sustain and comfort Christine and your boys at this time and throughout the days to come. It is faith in that proposition and the one who gave it that prevents me from believing that you, Jim, are really “gone,” and hence this letter.
Until we meet again,
Your friend and admirer,
This column was published by the Calgary Herald on April 17, 2014