Terribly sad news in Alberta politics today. CBC is reporting that 35-year old MLA Manmeet Bhullar has been killed in a car crash on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway while driving from Calgary to Edmonton.
Mr. Bhullar’s performance during his eight years the Alberta Legislature earned him a reputation as a skilled parliamentarian and a powerful voice for his constituents in northeast Calgary.
A star in Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party, Mr. Bhullar rose in the ranks under premiers Ed Stelmach, Alison Redford, and Jim Prentice, first as a parliamentary assistant and then as Minister of Service Alberta, Minister of Human Services and Minister of Infrastructure. He most recently served as PC opposition critic for Finance and Treasury Board, and Infrastructure.
As Human Services minister, he was tasked with the difficult challenge of overhauling Alberta’s laws so more information could be released about the deaths of children in foster care. He became one of Mr. Prentice’s campaign co-chairs during his party’s 2014 PC leadership contest and was rewarded with an appointment as Minister of Infrastructure, a position he held until the 2015 re-election.
Mr. Bhullar was first elected as the PC MLA for Calgary-Montrose in 2008 at the age of 27 and was re-elected as MLA for Calgary-Greenway in 2012 and 2015. He was one of ten PC MLAs re-elected in the 2015 election.
News of his passing generated an outpouring of condolences from his colleagues in elected office:
“His passion and dedication will live on in our hearts and we will greatly miss him. To Manmeet’s family: many of our colleagues are dear friends of Manmeet and his family, and it breaks our hearts to know we have lost such a great soul. Manmeet accomplished more in his brief time than most people accomplish in their lifetimes.” – Interim PC Party leader Ric McIver (full statement)
“Manmeet’s accomplishments are well-known. He was a powerful community advocate from a young age and first elected to the Alberta legislature at 28. He was brave and unrelenting in his role, particularly when it came to forcefully advocating for children in care – the least powerful people in our society.” – Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi (full statement)
“Mr. Bhullar worked tirelessly in service of this province. First elected in 2008, he proudly served as Minister of Infrastructure, Minister of Human Services, and Minister of Service Alberta. All Albertans should be proud of his significant contributions to public life.” – Premier Rachel Notley (full statement)
“Words cannot express the incredible sadness we all feel over the sudden and tragic loss of our dear colleague. The absence of our friend Manmeet will be felt across the great province that he loved. To his friends, our hearts weep with you. For all his constituents, we express our sympathy and support. To the PC party, to his caucus, to all MLAs who have served with him, and for all staff who came into contact with Manmeet during his incredible time as a public servant, we mourn together.” – Wildrose leader Brian Jean (full statement)
“Manmeet was a big man and his stature got attention. But more than that, much more than that, I remember his words. His words were powerful. Passionate. Intelligent. Meaningful. He is exactly the sort of person we need in public office. I am devastated. I cannot begin to imagine what his family is going through, nor his community, nor his colleagues in the PC caucus. All will miss him. Our world is a lesser place without Manmeet Bhullar. Rest in peace my friend.” – Alberta Party leader Greg Clark (full statement)
Saddened to hear of the tragic loss of AB PC Manmeet Bhullar tonight. We have all lost a friend. Thoughts and prayers with his family #ableg
— Rona Ambrose (@RonaAmbrose) November 24, 2015
— David Shepherd (@DShepYEG) November 24, 2015
— shaye anderson (@sandersonNDP) November 24, 2015
My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Manmeet Bhullar, and to his PC Caucus. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
— Brandy Payne (@bpaynemla) November 24, 2015
I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of MLA Manmeet Bhullar. My thoughts and prayers to everyone whose life he touched. #ableg
— Drew Barnes MLA (@DrewBarnesMLA) November 24, 2015
— Michael Connolly (@NDPMikeC) November 24, 2015
— Sandra Jansen (@SANDRAYYCNW) November 24, 2015
Here is video of Mr. Bhullar’s maiden speech in the Legislative Assembly, delivered on Wednesday, April 16, 2008.