Reflections of former Premier Jim Prentice

The shocking news of former Premier Jim Prentice’s untimely death last week following a plane crash near Kelowna continues to affect those in Alberta and beyond.

Prentice was one of four killed in a plane crash near Kelowna last Thursday evening. Also killed in the crash were Calgary Optometrist Ken Gellatly, the father-in-law of one of Prentice’s daughters, retired RCMP officer Jim Kruk, who was piloting the plane and Calgary businessman Sheldon Reid.

Officials have said the plane, which is described as a twin-engine Cessna Citation, disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff from Kelowna. The plane was headed to the Springbank Airport near Calgary.

Prentice leaves behind his wife Karen and three daughters, Christina, Cassia and Kate. Jim also had two grandchildren.

Jim, 60, served as Alberta’s premier from September 2014 to May 2015 when the PCs lost the provincial election to the Alberta NDP.

According to Wikipedia, in the 2004 federal election Jim was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a candidate of the Conservative Party of Canada. He was re-elected in the 2006 federal election and appointed to the cabinet as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. Jim was appointed Minister of Industry on Aug. 14th, 2007, and after the 2008 election became Minister of Environment on Oct. 30th, 2008.

On Nov. 4th, 2010, Jim announced his resignation from cabinet and as MP for Calgary Centre-North. After retiring from federal politics, he entered provincial politics in his home province of Alberta, and ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta to replace Alison Redford, who had resigned earlier that year. On Sept. 6th, 2014, he won the leadership election, becoming both the leader of the Progressive Conservatives and as such the premier, as his party held a majority in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

As well, according to Wikipedia, as premier of Alberta, Jim formed a new cabinet consisting of some members from the previous government, but also new ministers including two who did not hold seats in the Legislature – Stephen Mandel and Gordon Dirks. All three stood as candidates in by-elections scheduled for Oct. 27th, 2014, and all three were elected with Jim becoming the MLA for Calgary-Foothills.

Jim made his way through Red Deer a number of times during his campaign before the provincial election in 2015. He was always positive, friendly and took the time to greet his supporters. He was never rushed and it seemed like he genuinely enjoyed his job.

No matter what political party you stand behind, the news of Jim’s death was impactful for all of us.

Condolences from citizens to government officials continue to pour in this week. Flags across the province are at half mast and a moment of silence was held in the House of Commons on Monday so that fellow politicians could pay their respects.

A state funeral has been announced for Jim, which will take place Oct. 28th at Calgary’s Jubilee Auditorium. The funeral is open to the public.

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