Jim Flaherty dead at age 64. Flaherty, who stepped down from his position as finance minister in March, died suddenly at his Ottawa condo Thursday. Flaherty had been suffering from a rare skin condition for more than a year. He was forced to take steroids to treat the condition, which caused him to gain weight and become fatigued. However, there are reports this afternoon that he died of a heart attack. Flaherty remained a MP for his Whitby-Oshawa riding at the time of his passing. He leaves behind his wife, Ontario MPP Christine Elliott, and three adult sons: John, Galen and Quinn. It’s safe to say that Flaherty’s sudden passing came as a huge shock. Business in the House of Commons was put on hold Thursday afternoon as Conservative and opposition members crossed the floor to shake hands, hug and offer condolences. Paul Wells reflects on the life, and legacy, of a one-of-a-kind politician, a man who “was more alive than the next half-dozen politicians and assorted Hill denizens put together,” over here.
Patrick Brazeau is in trouble again. Before the news about Flaherty shocked the country, Ottawa was talking about suspended Senator Brazeau, who was arrested again in Gatineau early Thursday morning. By the afternoon, Brazeau had been charged with two counts of assault, uttering death threats, cocaine possession and breach of bail conditions. He pleaded not guilty to all charges. These new charges come just one day before another scheduled court date, in which Brazeau is set to appear before a judge in a separate assault case.
Big cuts come to CBC. Programming at CBC is about to see a drastic change. To eliminate funding shortfalls, CBC president Hubert Lacroix announced Thursday that the broadcaster will cut 657 jobs over the next two years, slashing $130 million from its budget. The broadcaster also announced that it will no longer compete for rights to broadcast professional sports and will cut back on its amateur sports coverage, too.
UN approves major peacekeeping mission for the Central African Republic. The UN voted Thursday to send a peacekeeping team of 10,000 soldiers and 1,800 police officers into the Central African Republic by September, in an effort to control tensions between Muslims and Christians in the country. French and African Union forces have, so far, been involved in the conflict, but have been overwhelmed by the effort. The UN decision raises the question of what role Canadian Forces might play in the operation. Retired Gen. Romeo Dallaire, who is also a Liberal senator, is urging the Canadian government to participate, but his urges come as the Department of National Defence cuts back on costs, and operations, post-Afghanistan.
Stephen Colbert to take over for David Letterman. The host of the Colbert Report will be the next host of the Late Show, CBS announced Thursday. The announcement comes after Letterman said he was retiring last week. Letterman fans need not despair just yet, Colbert isn’t due to take over until 2015. Colbert plays a hyper-Conservative pundit on his current Comedy Central show and this will be an opportunity for him to shed that persona and appeal to a wider audience.