Leaders pay glowing tributes at memorial service for Deepak Obhrai

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At a very well-attended memorial for former Calgary member of Parliament 69 year-old Deepak Obhrai who died earlier this month, former prime minister Stephen Harper credited Deepak Obhrai for opening doors for new Canadians and inspired them to become involved in politics. Obhrai also built a legacy of engagement for the Conservative party, he added.

Obhrai who first arrived in Calgary with his family in 1977 became a businessman and later the first Hindu elected to the House of Commons in 1997 when he won the Calgary East riding for the Reform party.

He went on to be re-elected six times under the banners of the Canadian Alliance, Progressive Conservative and Conservative parties.

“There can be no doubt that, had God been willing, he would have made it eight successful campaigns in a few short weeks from now,” said Harper.

Obhrai holds the distinction of being the longest-serving parliamentary secretary to a minister of foreign affairs in Canadian history — from 2006 to 2015 and was also the longest continuously serving Conservative MP.

“Deepak lived the Canadian immigrant dream and he led a generation of Conservatives in demonstrating how to build relationships in communities of different backgrounds across the country.

“He reminded us that the strength of free and democratic societies is not in the virtuous narratives and vanity of our leaders, but in the simple aspirations of everyday hard-working families for a better life.”

Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer, who is vying to replace Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the federal election in October, told the memorial that he was working with the Reform party when he met Obhrai in 1999.

“Deepak was the one who was building bridges in every community across Canada, not just in the South Asian community.”

Obhrai believed every person on earth was worthy of dignity, freedom and opportunity, said Scheer, who added that he continues to meet “Deepak fans” everywhere he goes.

“Let’s honour Deepak the best way we can by carrying on his fight and his commitment to those core Canadian values.”

There are very few South Asians in Canadian politics who could elicit the kind of eulogies that have been paid to the late politician Deepak Obhrai. He inspired so many to get engaged in Canadian politics throughout his life, hopefully his death and legacy will inspire more to be not just good politicians but great human beings. -CINEWS

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