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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tough year ahead for the aluminium industry

U.S. market is still Canada’s most important

Kitselas receive $1.2M boost for apprenticeship development program, open to Tsimshian and Haisla Nations

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education announces $7.5M for six Indigenous training programs

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into Northern Sentinel office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Indigenous LNG supporters chide human rights advocates over pipeline comments

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre path

Women take centre stage at NHL all-star skills competition

Canada beat the United States 2-1 in a spirited 3-on-3 game between female players Friday night

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Coastal GasLink work camp in Vanderhoof gets approved by the ALC

The work camp behind the Vanderhoof airport was first rejected by the commission in October last year

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

B.C.’s oldest practising lawyer celebrates 100th birthday, shares advice

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

Most Read