'The light of our lives went dark today': Calgary MLA killed in crash on QE2
An outpouring of condolences were posted online Monday evening, after news of the sudden death of a well-known Alberta MLA broke.
According to PC Party officials on social media, Calgary-Greenway MLA Manmeet Bhullar, 35, died Monday in a collision on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway.
Later Monday, Red Deer RCMP said officers were called to a serious crash on the QEII Highway near the Blindman River hill, north of Red Deer at about 2:20 p.m.
Investigators found a northbound vehicle lost control and rolled into the median on the south side of the hill, and two other northbound vehicles stopped on the left shoulder to help.
It’s believed a semi-truck that was heading in the same direction, down the hill, lost control, and hit the back of the first vehicle that had stopped to help, then continued into the median and hit the driver and only person who was in the second vehicle – police said that driver was not in his vehicle, but was on foot in the median.
RCMP would only identify the driver as a 35-year-old male from Calgary, his name was not released by police.
Bhullar’s family released a statement late Monday evening:
“The light of our lives went dark today. Manmeet Singh left us while he was doing what he loved more than anything – helping someone else. We know he would want us to be thankful for the countless blessings he was given by God. Just as his faith, wife, family, friends and community gave him strength, it will give us strength now. We thank you for your support during this difficult time and ask for privacy.
“He demanded excellence of himself and those around him. We are all better because of him.”
In a statement on behalf of the PC caucus, Interim PC Leader Ric McIver said Bhullar was passionate about youth, and “Inspired many young people to get involved in politics and volunteer their time.”
“His passion and dedication will live on in our hearts and we will greatly miss him. To Manmeet’s family: many of our colleagues are dear friends of Manmeet and his family, and it breaks our hearts to know we have lost such a great soul. Manmeet accomplished more in his brief time than most people accomplish in their lifetimes.”
Premier Rachel Notley also released a statement:
“All Albertans should be proud of his significant contributions to public life.
“There will be opportunities to remember his life and work over the coming days and we will do so along with all Albertans.
“We have lost our colleague, Calgary-Greenway has lost a friend and effective voice in the legislature, and most of all, we have all lost a passionate advocate for Alberta.”
Memorials flood in following tragic news
Not long after news of Bhullar’s death broke, tributes started pouring in on social media.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was one of the first to issue a statement in response to the tragic news, in it, Nenshi said he was “utterly gutted to hear of the sudden passing of Manmeet Singh Bhullar”, calling the MLA a “true warrior for fairness and justice, a big man with a giant heart, a friend.
“Manmeet’s accomplishments are well-known. He was a powerful community advocate from a young age and first elected to the Alberta legislature at 28. He was brave and unrelenting in his role, particularly when it came to forcefully advocating for children in care – the least powerful people in our society.”
Devastated to hear of the death of my friend and incredible public servant Manmeet Bhullar in a car accident today. https://t.co/vdsXtg9aZt— Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) November 24, 2015
Later in the evening, fellow PC caucus member and MLA for Calgary-Lougheed, Dave Rodney sent out a tribute to his colleague.
To my friend Manmeet, yr dear wife & loving family - our hearts are breaking. Thx for everything you've done for ABs pic.twitter.com/8Z7X3USdUA— Dave Rodney MLA (@DaveRodneyMLA) November 24, 2015
Calgary-West MLA Mike Ellis shared a photo of himself with Bhullar, thanking Bhullar for his service.
Fellow caucus member Dr. Richard Starke also tweeted, saying Alberta had “lost a great leader”:
On Monday evening, a statement was issued on behalf of the World Sikh Organization of Canada, in it, organization President Dr. Amritpal Singh Shergill said: “Words simply cannot do justice to the loss we are feeling and the void his passing has created. In a very short life of just 35 years Manmeet accomplished things most do not in a lifetime.”
Bhullar was first elected to the Alberta Legislature with the Progressive Conservative Party in March 2008.
He previously served as Minister of Infrastructure, Minister of Human Services and Minister of Service Alberta – after the May 2015 election, Bhullar was one of nine MLAs left in the PC caucus.
Officials with the legislature told CTV News that flags on all Provincial Buildings will be at half-mast from Monday night, until sunset on the day of Bhullar’s funeral to mark his sudden passing.