RED DEER, Alta.—A Conservative member of the legislature lauded as “a big man with a giant heart” was killed yesterday after stopping on an icy central Alberta highway to help a motorist whose car had flipped in a median.
Manmeet Bhullar, 35, who represented Calgary-Greenway, was one of only 10 Conservatives to win re-election this spring when the Tories under his longtime friend, Jim Prentice, were swept from power by the NDP.
“It is hard to express how significant this loss is to our province and to our country,” Prentice said in a statement.
“He was a pillar of strength for everyone who knew him.”
“[I am] devastated to hear of the death of my friend and incredible public servant,” said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
He called Bhullar “a true warrior for fairness and justice . . . a man who defined integrity, who was genuine in everything he did, who never stopped fighting so that everyone could live a life of dignity.”
As a winter storm descended on Alberta around noon yesterday, Bhullar was heading back to Edmonton after attending the launch in Calgary of a research project on the Alberta Men’s Survey, which will study men’s thoughts on personal well-being and healthy interpersonal relationships.
RCMP said a vehicle lost control and rolled on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway north of Red Deer around 2:20 p.m.
Two other vehicles stopped on the shoulder of the highway to assist.
A semi-truck then lost control and struck the rear of the first vehicle, then it continued into the median and struck the driver of the second vehicle, who was standing in the median.
RCMP said the man was seriously injured and taken to hospital, but later died of his injuries.
“It’s typical that he [Bhullar] would die in a selfless gesture of trying to help somebody else in need,” former Alberta treasurer Jim Dinning said in a telephone interview from Montreal.
“He was just a big, imposing guy and yet I always thought of him as a softie,” Dinning added.
“He was determined and fierce, but really cared about not so much about what people thought but how we could be doing better than we are.”