Alberta Conservative MP Jim Hillyer dies at 41
Published Wednesday, March 23, 2016 10:37AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 24, 2016 6:12AM EDT
Conservative MP Jim Hillyer was remembered as a hard worker, a "goofy guy" and a man of faith on Wednesday, as members of the House of Commons paid tribute to the late Alberta politician.
Hillyer, 41, was found dead early Wednesday morning at his office in Ottawa.
On Wednesday afternoon, MPs gathered to honour Hillyer's memory in the House, before adjourning for the day.
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose fought back tears as she described Hillyer's sense of humour, his hobbies and his devotion to public service. "It was clear that he loved life, he loved his wife, he loved his community and he loved his job," Ambrose said in the House of Commons.
Ambrose said Hillyer often played hockey in Ottawa with his fellow MPs, and had a secret talent for playing the violin. She added that he had a good sense of humour, and she recalled a joke in which he told a reporter that southern Albertans are not as "redneck" as Donald Trump supporters.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Hillyer for his hard work in the House, and offered his condolences to Hillyer's wife and four children.
"His youth and the suddenness of his passing have blanketed the Hill with a weighty sadness," he said.
Trudeau also called for MPs to get to know each other better. "We are bound, all of us, in service to this great country," he said.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said Hillyer was "taken from us far too soon."
A bouquet of red roses occupied Hillyer's seat during the abbreviated session.
The cause of Hillyer's death is not known, but he had been struggling with a bone infection following surgery on his leg. He was granted a medical leave in February as a result of the complication.
His doctor gave him special permission to return to Ottawa for the federal budget, according to CTV's Mercedes Stephenson.
Hillyer previously had leukemia, and underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2003.
Hillyer first won a seat in the House of Commons in the 2011 election. During the campaign, local media in the riding of Lethbridge often referred to him as "the man who wasn't there," after he avoided media interviews and public forums during the campaign.
He once told The Canadian Press that he worked as a Mormon missionary in Quebec in the 1990s.
Ambrose said Hillyer also volunteered with the Canadian Cancer Society, and coached minor hockey in his spare time.
"This Parliament is better for having had Jim serve," she said.
With files from The Canadian Press