Jim Flaherty reminds us everyone is human

Tease the day: the Finance Minister tells The Globe about his struggle with a rare disease

Adrian Wyld/CP

Ottawa talks. The other day, the talk was about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apparent attempt to soften his image by way of harmless tweets about his #dayinthelife. Whether the stunt worked or not is up for debate, as the comments beneath any writing about that Twitter adventure make abundantly clear. Worth considering, probably, is that something’s amiss if the matter’s even up for debate. Harper’s worked himself into a corner with a lot of people who honestly believe he’s a robot. That’s a challenge he might not care too much about, otherwise he’d do more to fix it, but public image is public image. No one likes to be hated, do they?

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s face graces The Globe and Mail‘s front page. The photo is neither flattering nor unflattering. It’s simply raw. Beneath the photo, we learn about Flaherty’s struggle with an extremely rare skin disease known as bullous pemphigoid. The steroids battling the disease have, over time, altered the finance minister’s appearance. Ottawa talks, and tongues have wagged for some time about Flaherty—every time he appeared out of sorts, frustrated, or simply unhealthy in the House of Commons. The man who used to answer questions with a smile now responded with a scowl. What was happening to him? What was wrong with him?

The finance minister, it turns out, is a human being. He didn’t need to prove it via Twitter. Circumstances proved it for him. He didn’t want to tell anyone about his struggle, either: The Globe reported Flaherty was “clearly uncomfortable divulging a private matter,” a pretty normal reaction, by most standards. None of this is to suggest the finance minister should be applauded or criticized, nor should it suggest the PM was misguided in his manufactured attempt at image management. This is simply a genuine reminder, as happens from time to time, that we elect human beings.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s admission that he’s fighting a rare skin disease. The National Post fronts negotiations that might see the RCMP provide “investigative training” to police in Saudi Arabia. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with a Montreal condo filled with players in the city’s organized crime underworld. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the Ottawa Hospital’s claim that staffing cuts won’t affect patient care. iPolitics fronts Sierra Club Canada’s consideration of non-violent civil disobedience, a potentially marked change in strategy for the advocacy group. leads with an alleged 15-year price-fixing scheme at new home developments in Toronto. National Newswatch showcases a Toronto Star story about Senator Patrick Brazeau and Orleans MP Royal Galipeau’s disparaging comments, directed at Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, at a local party fundraiser.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Residential schools. The Ontario Superior Court ruled that the feds must release millions of documents related to residential schools, a decision the government may appeal. 2. Ethics watchdog. Mary Dawson, the federal ethics commissioner, wants the ability to fine public office holders, including cabinet ministers, who violate the Conflict of Interest Act.
3. Oil spills. Environment Minister Peter Kent says the federal government will introduce legislation that could force energy companies to pay billions for disaster clean-up. 4. Mining. Plan Canada, a major charity, says its donors are wary of overseas, CIDA-funded development programs that partner with image-challenged mining companies.

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