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Conservative senator Doug Finley has died after a public battle with cancer

By Kristy Kirkup, Parliamentary Bureau

A Conservative Senator regarded as political warrior has lost his personal crusade with cancer.

 

Doug Finley, widely recognized as the backroom driver who steered the success of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative party, died Saturday from colorectal cancer which spread to other parts of the body.

"Our government has lost a trusted adviser and strategist," Harper said in a statement. "Canada has lost a fine public servant. I have lost a dear and valued friend."

Finley, 66, was appointed to the Senate in 2009 after he worked as director of political operations in the Conservative party and as the national campaign director through the 2006 and 2008 general elections.

 

 

Finley also served as the engine behind Harper's bid to become leader of the amalgamated Conservative party after he helped facilitate the amalgamation of the Progressive Conservative party and the Canadian Alliance in 2003.

"Senator Doug Finley's passing is a significant loss to the conservative movement in Canada," said Conservative party president John Walsh.

Viewed as a fierce political opponent, Finley's career did not come without some controversy.

After the 2006 election, Finley was charged by Elections Canada in the so-called "in-and-out" case for allegedly transferring money between local campaigns and the national campaign to exceed spending caps. The party paid more than $50,000 as part of a plea deal but charges against Finley and another senator were dropped.

 

Finley was married to Human Resource Minister Diane Finley for more than 30 years.

"Doug fought a hard and very public battle with cancer. His death is a loss to our family, our friends - and to the entire country," she said in a statement.

Finley was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, but he later disclosed it was terminal.

"Senator Finley faced this vicious opponent like the fighter he was," Harper said. "He continued to participate in Senate debates almost to the end, and shared information about his diagnosis and treatment."

Harper's former chief of staff Ian Brodie said Finley was an "inspiration to an entire generation of conservative campaigners" and noted his personal and political might.

"What's really remarkable is the strength of his marriage to Diane. They both led political lives in the public eye, but remained totally devoted to each other," Brodie said. "Adding the terrible, vicious disease to the picture brought them even closer together."

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

Kristy.Kirkup@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @kkirkup


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