Liberal MP Arnold Chan dies at the age of 50
Published Thursday, September 14, 2017 10:31AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 14, 2017 4:00PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Liberal MP Arnold Chan, who had been battling cancer, has died at the age of 50.
Chan's nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare head and neck cancer, resurfaced in 2016 after first being diagnosed in 2014.
Chan, 50, represented the riding of Scarborough-Agincourt, Ont. He was the deputy government House leader.
"We've just been notified that Arnold Chan our member of Parliament from Scarborough has died... he was a member that we all very much respected and appreciated and it is with great sadness that I have to give you that announcement," Chair of the House transport committee Liberal MP Judy Sgro said Thursday morning at committee.
He roused the Commons with a speech about resilience in June, after admitting he wasn't sure how many more speeches he'd be able to make in the House because of the health challenges he was facing.
"We should use our heads, but follow our hearts. It is as simple as that," Chan encouraged his fellow MPs in his June 12 remarks in Parliament.
In the speech he encouraged his colleagues to rise above partisanship and improve the level of debate in Parliament. His wife and parents were present in the House of Commons for the remarks.
His wife Jean Yip issued a statement Thursday morning saying Chan was a "loving father, wonderful husband and dedicated public servant." Chan leaves three sons, Nathaniel, Ethan, and Theodore.
"We will miss him dearly," she said.
Chan, a lawyer and former political staffer at the Ontario legislature, was first elected as an MP in 2014 after winning a byelection.
MPPs at the Ontario legislature held a moment of silence for Chan on Thursday morning.
"For three and a half years, he distinguished himself as a thoughtful, kind and – above all – tireless advocate for Canadians. He believed deeply in our democracy and became one of its most faithful and eloquent guardians," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.
"Arnold accomplished all of this despite battling cancer throughout most of his time as an MP. Even at his sickest, he found the strength to stand up in the House of Commons and represent his constituents, who he cared about so deeply," said Trudeau.
A number of Chan’s parliamentary colleagues have taken to Twitter to express their condolences.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer recognized Chan's courageous fight, and said the party is saddened by his death. In a series of tweets, Scheer also said his "thoughts and prayers" are with Chan’s wife, children, and loved ones.
"He was a fine parliamentarian," tweeted NDP House leader Murray Rankin, who considered Chan a friend.
Speaking to media following his appearance at the Commons transport committee where Sgro broke the news to those in the room, Transport Minister Marc Garneau reminisced on Chan’s June speech.
"It was incredibly moving and it was incredibly nonpartisan. And it spoke to all of the highest sentiments that all of us as members of parliament wish we could live up to, and we often fail to live up to, so I think that, as a legacy from a friend, from a very courageous person is something that we all need to remember for a very long time," said Garneau.