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

July 2019 for Smithers “almost record breaking” says climatologist

David Phillips could only find one year with both more total precipitation and number of wet days

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

VIDEO and PHOTOS: Thursday at the Spirit of the North Classical Music Festival

A brass fanfare, Classics on Main and a family folk dance were among the events on Day 2 of the fest

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Telkwa angler praises DFO salmon closure

Don Lambie says further actions are required including a seal cull and managing beaver dams

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read