Diner owner shares fond memories of Jim Flaherty
Published Friday, April 11, 2014 3:00PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 11, 2014 10:34PM EDT
The owner of a Whitby, Ont. diner said that regular customer Jim Flaherty had been to the restaurant just days before his death, as if he was coming to say goodbye.
Although the former finance minister spent much of his time in Ottawa, he was a regular customer at Wimpy’s Diner in his riding of Whitby, Ont.
The MP was fondly remembered by the diner owner and community members as a kind-hearted man with a good sense of humour.
"Jim always sat here," Wimpy's Diner owner Nic Youroukos told CTV Toronto, pointing to a bright red bench near the door. "He liked to be on the outside (of the table) because he always wanted to grab the bill."
Youroukos recalled Flaherty's usual order - two fried eggs and toast - saying the diner won't be the same without Flaherty.
"I've been quite distraught about this whole thing. He was here on Monday," Youroukos said. "It was as though he came in to say goodbye."
Whitby resident and diner patron Sam Lowe described Flaherty as a "folk hero" and source of inspiration in the area.
"A small town guy gets himself to Ottawa, and does a great job as finance minister. He came a long way, that's for sure," Lowe said.
Flaherty was also remembered by Joseph Ieraci, owner of a barber shop in downtown Whitby, who told CTV Toronto he'd cut Flaherty's hair many times.
"He was a fun customer, a good customer. He was friendly with everybody. When he was in the shop he would talk to everybody."
Outside Flaherty's Garden Street home, locals left dozens of bouquets of flowers and Canadian flags as a final goodbye.
Flaherty's long-time executive assistant Kim Glover walked the grounds of the politician's home as she told CTV Toronto that he wasn't just her boss, he was a friend.
"It's a sad day for me. I've lost a great friend. He was my boss, but I spent a great deal of time talking with him on the day before his passing," Glover said, holding back tears.
"I cherish those conversations now even more."
In Toronto, two landmarks are going green to pay tribute to the long-time politician who was proud of his Irish heritage.
The CN Tower and Toronto City Hall will be lit in green light Friday night.
Toronto Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly announced the plan for city hall Friday afternoon.
The CN Tower will also be coloured green next Wednesday, the day of Flaherty's state funeral in Toronto, according to a spokeswoman.
The CN Tower is frequently lit in different colours to honour special events and people.
With a report from CTV Toronto's John Musselman and files from The Canadian Press