Condolences poured in from politicians of all stripes Friday after learning of the tragic death of former Alberta premier and federal MP Jim Prentice.
Prentice, 60, was killed in a plane crash just outside Kelowna, B.C. Thursday night. He was one of four people in the plane destined for Calgary/Springbank Airport when it crashed northeast of Winfield, just north of Kelowna.
Prentice’s family released a statement Friday afternoon, saying they were shocked to learn of his death and they are thinking of those who also lost a family member in the crash.
“Another member of our family was also on the plane, Ken Gellatly, the father-in-law of one of our daughters, also a very special man,” the statement read. “To lose two family members at once is unbelievably painful.
“In the time Jim has been with us, he was a friend to many. Jim was a loving and compassionate man who dedicated his life to his family and public service. He will be so greatly missed.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said she has spoken with Prentice’s wife, Karen, and expressed her sorrow and sympathy.
“There are no words adequate for moments like this, as my family knows very well,” Notley said in a statement. Notley’s father, Grant Notley, was killed in a plane crash on his way home from Edmonton on a snowy night in October 1984.
“but there are words to remember premier Prentice’s contributions to Alberta. He served our province in so many roles for so many years. He deeply loved Alberta. He worked tirelessly for all of us, in the true spirit of one who is committed to public service. I benefited from his advice, and the government of Alberta is continuing to pursue many of his initiatives. All Albertans are the better for this.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement Friday afternoon expressing his condolences.
“Jim Prentice brought his deep convictions to everything he turned his hand to, whether it was law, business, or politics,” Trudeau said. “At each step of his career, he worked tirelessly for the people of Canada and Alberta – both as a federal minister in several different portfolios, and later, as premier of the province.”
Trudeau added that Prentice’s “legacy will live on in the work he did for Albertans and for all Canadians.”
Prentice was elected to the House of Commons in 2004–the same year as former Elgin–Middlesex–London MP Joe Preston, who retired last year.
Preston, speaking Friday on AM980’s the Andrew Lawton Show, spoke fondly of his memories with Prentice as friends and caucus-mates.
“I remember him being industry minister during some pretty rough times in our area in the automotive business, and almost on a weekly basis saying, ‘Joe, how’s it going? What else do we need to do? Have you got any other thoughts? How can we help…?'” Preston recounted, adding that Prentice was “very aware and caring.”
Rona Ambrose, the Conservative Party’s interim leader and also a former fellow MP to Prentice, issued remarks expressing how “shocked and deeply” saddened she was by the news.
“It is a huge loss to the country. He was a well-respected political leader and a business leader but we know he was most proud to be a father and grandfather,” Ambrose said. “Jim was a leader in our movement, a valued colleague in cabinet, and a close and cherished friend of so many, not just in our party, but right across the political spectrum. His accomplishments in public life were the culmination of a distinguished career that began in law and business.”