Ottawa, Ontario – After a courageous public battle with cancer, the Honourable Michael Douglas (Doug) Finley died in Ottawa, Ontario, on May 11, 2013, age 66.
He was married to the Honourable Diane Finley for over 30 years. Born in Exeter, UK on July 25, 1946, his parents quickly moved him to Scotland to ensure that he was “raised properly.” Doug attended the universities of Strathclyde, Edinburgh and McGill. He emigrated to Canada in the late 1960s.
An avid soccer fan, particularly of Glasgow Celtic and Manchester United, he began his professional career at Rolls-Royce Canada in Montreal, where he quickly rose through the ranks to senior executive levels. He moved on to serve as President of Standard Aero, and Senior Vice President of AvCorp Industries. Later in his career, he worked as General Manager, and Chief Operating Officer of Fernlea Flowers in Southwestern Ontario.
In 2003, Doug Finley was appointed Director of Political Operations of the Canadian Alliance by Stephen Harper after running the Perth-Middlesex by-election campaign. After the merger of the two national parties, he became a driving force behind Stephen Harper’s successful leadership campaign.
In March 2004, Doug Finley was appointed Director of Political Operations of the newly-formed Conservative Party of Canada, and was the engineer behind the 2004 break-through in Ontario for the Conservative Party. He then successfully engineered and led the Conservative Party to victory through the 2006 and 2008 general elections as National Campaign Director.
In August 2009, Doug Finley was appointed to the Senate, representing Ontario South Coast. He chose the regional designation of Ontario South Coast to reflect his particular interest in the area of southwestern Ontario along the north shore of Lake Erie.
He was a member of numerous international boards and the recipient of many honours including Honourary Lifetime Member of the Ferry Command and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
He is survived by his wife Diane; his daughter Siobhan (George Desypris) of Montreal and three grandchildren, Willem, Erin and Emma; sister Maureen (Dave Todd) of Calgary; brother James (Shu-mei) of London and Singapore; his father-in-law and mother-in-law John and Muriel Dennis of Booth’s Harbour; two nieces and one nephew.
Two memorial services will be held to honour his life and public service. The first will be held on Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. at the Port Dover Community Centre in Port Dover, Ontario.
The second service will be held on Monday, May 20, 2013 in Ottawa. A 6:00 p.m. reception, followed by the service at 7:00 p.m., will take place in the National Arts Centre Theatre.
Messages of condolence may be sent to the family at TheFinleyFamily@live.com.
“I cannot begin to express my gratitude to Canadians for the overwhelming outpouring of affection, thoughts and prayers since the announcement of Doug’s death.
“Over the past couple of days, I have personally heard from colleagues and friends all across Canada, around the world and of all political backgrounds.
“Doug was a humble man who never would have expected or wanted such attention. Yet the tributes speak to both his political brilliance and his personal character.
“Doug indeed was loved and I thank all of you for joining me in remembering him as the Senator, friend, strategist, husband and great Canadian that we lost all too soon.”
“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.
“Although further details will soon be announced, I do ask that our family have some privacy as we prepare to formally bid farewell to a great man.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement today on the death of Senator Doug Finley:
“It was with great sadness that Laureen and I learned of the death of Senator Doug Finley. Our Government has lost a trusted adviser and strategist. Canada has lost a fine public servant. I have lost a dear and valued friend.
“Senator Finley came to Canada as an immigrant and in a long and remarkable career he helped build a better country. In the business world, he rose to prominence in several important enterprises, notably Rolls-Royce Canada. He also expressed the love he felt for his adopted country through his work in the democratic process. Here his skills, style and passion were legend.
“When he learned he had cancer, Senator Finley faced this vicious opponent like the fighter he was. He continued to participate in Senate debates almost to the end, and shared information about his diagnosis and treatment with the public.
“A great Canadian has been taken from us, before his time. Laureen and I join with so many men and women from across the political spectrum, in extending our condolences to Doug’s wife Diane, his daughter Siobhan, and all their family. You are in our thoughts and prayers.”