Federal Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai has Died Following Battle with Cancer
Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai, a beloved figure on Parliament Hill, dean 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 surrounded by his family.
"Deepak was a constant source of joy inside the Conservative caucus," said a statement from a "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.
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 be about a month away.
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.
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," said Scheer.
"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 his constituency and parliamentary offices, and messages can be sent by mail to Obhrai's parliamentary office in Ottawa or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details for the funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.