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Former Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty remembered as honest, friendly, witty

Tributes are pouring in from around the world after the sudden death of former Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty.

Flaherty, who was 64, died at his Ottawa condominium Thursday of a heart attack, just three weeks after he resigned from his cabinet position.

Known for his "Irish wit" and friendliness, he continued as a member of Parliament while preparing to take some time off and find a job outside of government.

His family had urged him to take a break from his hectic lifestyle to help restore his health.

Flaherty had been battling a painful skin condition, bullous pemphigoid, that required him to take a steroid medication, resulting in weight gain and fatigue.

Credited with leading Canada relatively unscathed through one of its worst economic times, he had set the stage for a return of a budget surplus in the next year.

He was married to Christine Elliott, deputy leader of the Ontario Conservatives, and they have triplet sons, John, Galen and Quinn.

The G20 finance ministers and central bankers noted his "refreshing honesty and good humor."

"His hard work and leadership were instrumental in helping to shape the recovery and in charting Canada's path back to surplus," the group said in a statement.

Calling it a "very sad day," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Flaherty's death is "an unexpected and terrible shock."

Quebec vote a setback in independence push

Quebec voters delivered a stunning setback to the independence movement by dumping the minority Parti Quebecois government and its leader.

In the provincial election, former neurosurgeon Philippe Couillard led his Liberals to a majority win.

By doing so, PQ leader Pauline Marois, who had suggested the possibility of another vote for independence from Canada, was defeated in her home district and resigned.

Seventy Liberals were elected to the 125-seat legislature while the PQ had 30, the Coalition for Quebec's Future had 22 and Quebec Solidaire, three. Voter turnout was 71.5 percent.

News in brief

• The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. is eliminating 657 jobs in the next two years to save $130 million. President and CEO Hubert Lacroix said "very tough and controversial choices needed to be made" and the CBC could no longer compete with private broadcasters for the rights to broadcast professional sports. The cuts will affect English radio and TV programs as well as the French-language service Radio-Canada.

• Patrick Brazeau, who was suspended as a senator over an expenses scandal, has been arrested for what police said was a "violent domestic disturbance" in Gatineau, Quebec. He faces two counts of assault, making death threats, possessing cocaine and breach of bail conditions. Brazeau, 39, is also awaiting trial for a domestic incident last year in which he was arrested for assault and sexual assault.

Facts and figures

The Canadian dollar is higher at 91.19 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0966 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,254 points and the TSX Venture index 996 points.

The average price of a liter of gasoline across Canada is higher at $1.3388 (Canadian).

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Regional briefs

• A Forum Research poll suggests Ontario voters are more concerned over the governing Liberals' gas plant scandal. The poll shows the Conservatives have overtaken the Liberals by 38 to 31 percent while the New Democrats have 23 percent support. Premier Kathleen Wynne said she had no knowledge of the deletion of emails from government computers concerning the cancellation of two controversial gas plants before the last election. Stopping the projects cost taxpayers $1.1 billion, an inquiry showed, but helped the Liberals win the vote.

• Dellen Millard, of Toronto, awaiting trial in the death last year of Tim Bosma of Ancaster, Ontario, is now accused of murdering his father, Wayne Millard, and friend Laura Babcock. Bosma didn't return after going on a test drive with two men in a truck he was trying to sell.

Jim Fox can be reached at