Over the weekend Canadians were shocked to learn of the sudden and unexpected passing of long-time politician Deepak Obhrai. PM Justin Trudeau on Saturday said he joined the people of Calgary and all parliamentarians to mourn the death of Deepak Obhrai, Conservative MP for Calgary Forest Lawn, after a brief battle with cancer.
Trudeau added: “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I extend my sincere condolences to Mr. Obhrai’s family, friends, and colleagues.
“Born in Tanzania, he immigrated to Calgary with his family where he soon became an active member of the community. First elected as a Member of Parliament in 1997, he proudly served the people in his riding for over 20 years.
“Mr. Obhrai was a champion of diversity and human rights. He will be remembered for his dedication to the Indo-Canadian community and his hard work on behalf of Albertans and all Canadians.”
Andrew Scheer, Conservative Party Leader, said that his wife Jill and he were heartbroken to learn of Obhrai’s passing, adding that he “fought a brief but courageous battle against cancer and passed away last night in Calgary with his family by his side.”
Scheer noted: “Deepak was the longest-serving Conservative Member of Parliament, having been elected first as a Reform MP for Calgary-East in the 1997 election and then serving in a range of roles – both in opposition and in government – as a Canadian Alliance and then Conservative MP. He was always a champion for his riding and fought hard for his constituents. His decades of hard work to advance the conservative movement and ultimately strengthen Canada will not be forgotten.
“Deepak was a constant source of joy inside the Conservative caucus. He brightened every room he walked into and often injected warmth, kindness, and good humour into our deliberations. I know I speak on behalf of my Conservative colleagues when I say that he will be missed tremendously.
“Personally, I will always have fond memories of the time we spent together during the Conservative Party of Canada leadership race. In addition to the laughs and good memories we all shared on the campaign trail, his campaign was a testament to his strong beliefs in freedom, prosperity, and inclusiveness. He was the first Hindu ever elected to the House of Commons.
“My prayers are with Deepak’s wife Neena and their children and grandchildren during this time.”
Obhrai’s office in statement to the media said that the Dean of the Conservative Caucus, passed away peacefully in Calgary surrounded by his family on Friday night after a brief and aggressive battle with liver cancer. He was diagnosed a few weeks earlier with stage 4 liver cancer.
Obhrai was also the Conservative Party’s nominated candidate in the riding of Calgary Forest Lawn, which he represented in Ottawa since 1997. This was going to be the eighth federal election that he was due to contest. “In the current parliament he contested the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, sending a strong message to ethnic communities that the CPC was open to all Canadians,” the statement said.
“Obhrai holds the honors of being the longest-serving Parliamentary Secretary to a Minister of Foreign Affairs in Canadian history, and also the longest-serving Indo-Canadian MP in Parliament,” it added.
Born and raised in Tanzania, Obhrai studied on three continents before settling in Calgary with his family in 1977. -CINEWS