Conservative MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights Deepak Obhrai stands in the House of Commons during question period in Ottawa on May 30, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Calgary Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai, 69, dead of cancer

Born and raised in Tanzania, Obhrai studied on three continents before settling in Calgary

Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai, a beloved character on Parliament Hill, dean and mentor of the federal Conservative caucus and the first Hindu politician ever elected to the House of Commons, has died after a brief and aggressive battle with liver cancer, his family announced Saturday.

Relatives say Obhrai, who marked his 69th birthday last month and had only recently been diagnosed with the condition, died suddenly Friday in Calgary while surrounded by members of his family.

“Deepak was a constant source of joy inside the Conservative caucus,” said a statement from “heartbroken” leader Andrew Scheer, with whom Obhrai shared the battle to lead the party in 2016 and 2017.

“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.”

Obhrai represented Calgary Forest Lawn since 1997 and was the longest-serving Conservative MP and Indo-Canadian in Parliament. He was also the longest-serving parliamentary secretary to a minister of foreign affairs in Canadian history.

ALSO READ: Condolences pour forth from community after passing of Langley-Aldergrove MP Mark Warawa

Born and raised in Tanzania, Obhrai studied on three continents before settling in Calgary with his family in 1977. He was set to contest his eighth federal election in a campaign that’s believed to start in about a month.

Obhrai was diagnosed a few weeks prior with stage 4 liver cancer in Calgary. Relatives said in a release that they were “shocked by his sudden departure.”

“We want all his friends, constituents of Calgary Forest Lawn, his supporters from all over the world, and all his colleagues to know that their support and love for our dad continued to inspire him to break every glass ceiling, and overcome every obstacle, so that he could continue doing what he loved the most — standing up for human rights,” they said Saturday in a release.

That statement appeared on Obhrai’s Twitter feed Saturday morning, directly above a June 24 photo of members of his campaign team door-knocking in the riding in anticipation of the Oct. 21 election.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, a former caucus colleague during the tenure of then-prime minister Stephen Harper, paid tribute to his close friend in a lengthy statement posted to his Facebook page.

“Perhaps Deepak’s biggest legacy was the key role that he played in the huge upgrading of Canada-India relations during Stephen Harper’s premiership,” Kenney wrote.

“Those who knew him will always smile in recalling Deepak’s winsome sense of humour, which reflected his generosity of spirit. He treated colleagues on all sides of the political aisle with respect, while reminding all of us never to take ourselves too seriously.”

Obhrai leaves behind his wife Neena, children Priti, Kaajal, and Amman, and grandchildren Davin Jacob and Evasha.

“I will always have fond memories of the time we spent together during the Conservative Party of Canada leadership race,” Scheer recalled. “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.”

Books of condolence will be available at the constituency and parliamentary offices and messages of condolence can be sent by mail to the parliamentary office in Ottawa and emailed to deepak.obhrai@parl.gc.ca.

Details for the funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UVic ranks the worst financial scandals in Canadian politics

The University of Victoria finds Canadians are most bothered by financial scandals.

Two killed after bus crashes taking university students to Bamfield

Crash happened Friday night around 10 p.m., RCMP say

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Vancouver Island goalie at training camp with Montreal Canadiens

Qualicum Beach’s LaCouvee angling for spot with AHL Laval squad

‘Firefighting is not a job for everyone’: Island fire chiefs

Sacrifices of Canadian fire crews honoured on Firefighters’ National Memorial Day

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

B.C. police watchdog to investigate man’s head injury during RCMP arrest

Suspect fled on a bicycle and fell off when an officer attempted to stop him

‘A real shame’: B.C. MLA says factors behind Tolko mill closing should have been caught

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson said the industry is in bad shape across the province

VIDEO: Seniors at B.C. assisted living facility shocked by Oct. 1 eviction notice

Building owners terminate lease for McGuire Lake Congregate Living in Salmon Arm

‘How does it even happen?’: Bear locks itself inside vehicle in Port Moody

It was apparent the suspect had gained entry with his ‘bear’ hands

Boy, 12, in critical condition after B.C. hit-and-run

One of two Friday hit-and-runs the driver is believed to be part of, Langley police say

Most Read