David passed peacefully at Victoria BC on October 11, 2022, with his wife, Karen Jensen, and one of his sons, Robert, at his side.

Born on February 25, 1940, in Campbellton NB and raised in Montreal QC, David was predeceased by his parents, Edwin Flaherty and Mary (Harquail) Flaherty. He was also predeceased by his brother, Hon. Jim Flaherty PC, and brother Ted. He is survived by his wife, Karen, sons Sean (Ann), Michael (Shauna) and Robert (Christine), stepchildren Jake and Alex, grandchildren Nicole, Nina, Sam, Caleb and Jack, and his sisters and brothers Ann, Gerry, Patrick, Norah and Mary.

Having received the gold medal in history at McGill University, David received his doctorate in history from Columbia University. He went on to teach American history at Princeton University and the University of Virginia before returning to Canada, to what was then the University of Western Ontario, where he was appointed in the law and history faculties. Building on his early scholarship, David broke new ground in privacy law and policy, publishing influential papers and texts on topics such as privacy in modern surveillance societies. He was known internationally for his academic and policy work on privacy and is remembered as a major contributor to the establishment of Canadian legal history scholarship.

In 1993, the British Columbia Legislature appointed David as the province’s first Information and Privacy Commissioner. He established the office from scratch, quickly building it into an internationally respected regulatory body in both freedom of information and privacy. After his distinguished service in that role, David established a busy consultancy, wisely helping governments, public institutions and businesses across Canada navigate their legal obligations while doing the right thing. Along the way, David was a mentor and confidante to many, generously offering wise counsel over the years.

During his nearly thirty years in Victoria, David devoted thousands of hours to the community. He was a long-time board member and president of, and donor to, Pacific Opera Victoria and was a generous donor to many other arts and community organizations, including the Victoria Symphony and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. His charitable contributions also benefit many other organizations, including the Garth Homer Society and the BC Cancer Foundation.

His many contributions as a scholar, teacher, policymaker, regulator and community volunteer were justly recognized by an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Victoria in 2018 and Royal Roads University’s Chancellor’s Community Recognition Award in 2015.

David will be sorely missed by his family and his wide circle of friends and former colleagues around the world, all of whom knew him as an intelligent, wise, kind and generous man.

A private commemoration has been held and a celebration of life will be held later.

Condolences may be offered to the family below.

McCall Gardens

  • Andrew Beckerman

    Dear Karen,

    I am sorry that you and I have been so out of touch over the past decade that I was not aware until this moment that David is no longer alive. While I knew David through you, I enjoyed the time I got to spend with him. I have fond memories of being given a tour by David of the art collection that hung in your home.

    I am only a very casual supporter of the Pacific Opera (via my friendship with Grania Litwin). However David and I both supported the AGGV. Eventually my collections will pass to them after its new home near Capitol Iron is constructed. I am saddened that David will miss seeing that.

    Please accept my belated and heartfelt condolences for your loss. He was one of the brightest jewels in the crown of British Columbia. I hope you and the boys are well despite this loss.



  • Anne-Marie Waters

    The Waters family sends its warmest wishes to Karen, David’s sons and stepsons,and to all his family. David was a dear friend to my mother Maryla who cherished his lively mind, his vivacious personality, and his warmth and humor. I only met him a few times, but he was one of those people who truly sparkled. It was always a pleasure to spend time with him.
    With warmest condolences, Anne-Marie

  • Jack Basey

    My deepest condolences to all of his loved ones upon my recent hearing of David’s passing.I first met David as a new lawyer coming to the City of Victoria in the early 90’s while he was then BC’s Privacy Commissioner.I appreciated his sage advice on a couple of issues involving the legislation and the City of Victoria ,where I then worked. We subsequently developed a professional as well as personal friendship.He was truly a renaissance man.One always enjoyed being in David’s company. Conversation never lagged!!!There are only a few people you meet in your life that one can truly say had a real impact on you—David was such an individual as far as I am concerned.He is missed!!

  • Marg Rose

    “More people should know about this!” David exclaimed when on an impact bus tour a few years ago. He embodied the word “philanthropist” and the community has lost a long-time champion and passionate speaker, host of house gatherings featuring his beloved chef Tak Ito. Karen and family, our hearts are with you across the charitable sector.

  • Barbara Fisher

    I just learned the very sad news about David’s death and want to express my sincerest condolences to all the Flaherty family. I was David’s counsel during his first years as Information and Privacy Commissioner. Working with David was always an interesting intellectual exercise and we remained friends for many years. His contributions to this field were vast and he will be greatly missed.
    Justice Barbara Fisher

  • Nushin and Tony Nadolski

    Our deepest condolences
    to Karen and family We were shocked to find out about his passing when visiting his favorite restaurant which he loved so much. We have fond memories of him at the Chaine dinners. Our Mexican friend Maria also passes along her condolences.The world has benefited from David’ s sage advice
    Tony and Nushin Nadolski

  • Keith MacLeod

    I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend and mentor David. He was very important to me in so many ways, not least of which was his unending emotional support through my career. Our luncheons were fascinating and rewarding. Were those get togethers not interrupted by covid we would have had many more. I can’t have a noontime bite without thinking of him and will miss his great wisdom and humour forevermore. Thank you David for so much.

  • Janet Illingworth

    I was David’s travel agent for several years. He was a lovely man; incredibly interesting with a great dry wit.

    My deepest sympathy on your loss.

    Janet Illingworth

  • Sean Greenfield

    Our condolences to Karen, and all of David’s family. He will be missed by many.
    He was a great person, and it was a pleasure to work with him on his property over the years.
    His appreciation for the arts ran deep. He will be remembered for a very long time.
    Sean and Michael Greenfield, and Janice Martinez.

  • Jonathan Swainger

    I first met David around 1987 when, as a prospective doctoral student at Western in London, Ontario, I attended his legal history workshop. It began our 30 + year friendship and collaboration. Throughout he was my mentor, friend, and colleague. There is really no way to measure the depth of his influence on my career and, indeed, my life. Over these years we always kept in contact and throughout he remained a steadfast supporter and indeed, cheerleader. That Karen has become very much a similar friend and advisor has proven to be an unanticipated pleasure and to say I am pleased they found each hardly tells the tale. And in these more recent months, she has been an unflinching warrior at his side. I wish them and all the boys, my very best.

  • Christine Seaville

    What an accomplished and well-rounded person David was, in addition to his philanthropy: such an interesting biography in the Times Colonist.

    Karen, I remember you phoned me on the morning of your wedding, only 15 short months ago. I can’t imagine how your world has been upended so soon. How very sad for you and the family. David will be missed by so many.

    Christine Seaville

  • barbara hubbard

    Dear Karen, My heart goes out to you and your family. Please accept my sincere condolences at the loss of your David who was such an amazing inspiration to all of us, the Opera Family. I am so glad I had the pleasure of knowing him and witnessing his generosity and profound sense of humour. May he rest in peace. Much love, Barbara

  • Elisabeth Silvester

    All praise to David,
    A great champion & such a good friend to many
    A life so well lived…
    Leaving the world a bit better for his many and varied charities and intellectual contributions.
    My condolences to his family and his many other friends
    His kindness as well as his greatness will be long remembered and cherished.

  • Neville Thompson

    David was my colleague and friend in the history department at the University of Western Ontario for twenty years and near office mates for fifteen. His energy, enthusiasm, dedication and wide interests well beyond history, law and privacy were a constant inspiration and reproach. We kept in close touch when he left for Victoria and he never seemed far away. His memory will resonate to the very end. Sincere condolences and love to you all.

    Neville Thompson

  • Devi JAWL

    Dear Karen:

    Bob and I were saddened about David’s passing. He will be missed by many including the arts community. His generosity and kindness will live on. Our condolences to you and your family at this very sad time.

    Bob and Devi Jawl

  • Zanatta

    Our condolences go out to all of David’s family.
    He was a wonderful man and many will miss him.
    Ivo Zanatta and family

  • Lara Wilson

    Dear Karen and family,
    Sending our sincere condolences to you at this sad time.

    Lara Wilson & Kelly Harms

  • Jonathon Bancroft-Snell

    I knew David was incredibly accomplished but for me I will remember him as a wonderfully kind spirited art lover. I’ll forever treasure memories of our conversations about art and artists. Whether in the gallery or his beautifully appointed home time with David was never dull. I’ll miss our conversations and his spirit of joie de vivre. David was a true renaissance man and I will always value our friendship. To his friends and family I offer my sympathy.

  • Gary Dickson

    My condolences to David’s family. When Alberta’s access to information and privacy law was being developed in the 1990’s David was a wonderful resource who provided insight, wisdom and encouragement to all of us involved in that initiative. Personally David inspired and encouraged me in my privacy work over more than 25 years. He has been a giant in the promotion of information rights internationally as well as within Canada. He was an amazing mentor to a burgeoning cohort of ‘privacy professionals’. I hope that David’s family can take some comfort from the widespread respect we all had for David and our affection for him. Gary Dickson

  • Pete Rose

    I will miss my friend and neighbour. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones. May he rest in peace.

    Pete Rose

  • Renee Silberman

    To the Flaherty family,

    I last saw David in Victoria 3 years ago – not too many months before the beginning of the Covid scourge. I knew him slightly through the history department at Western, then made that nice visit in the summer of 2019. He delighted in showing me around his impressive art collection. His taste was exquisite, and the pleasure he derived from living in the midst of beauty was a joy to witness.

    Kindest regards to the family, and especially to Mike, who spent many hours in my house building a great kitchen!

    Renée Silberman

  • Lee Ann Dawson Flaherty

    Our deepest condolences to you all at this difficult time. Uncle David will be missed.

    All our love,
    Lee Ann, David, Liam, & Madilyn Flaherty

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