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  • Vermilion Voice

MLA Starke Pays Tribute To Former Premier Jim Prentice

The Late Premier Jim Prentice who was tragically killed in an airplane crash on October 13. Photo Louie Villanueva, The Gauntlet.

PC MLA for Vermilion/Lloydminster Dr. Richard Starke paid tribute to Alberta’s former Premier and Federal Cabinet Minister Jim Prentice, 60, on Friday, following the breaking news that he was killed in a plane crash in British Columbia on Thursday night, October 13.

Prentice was traveling with a group of four flying out of Kelowna in a Cessna Citation plane en route to Alberta, following a golf trip. No one survived the crash which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police described as ”unsurvivable.”

“I am very shocked. It is a terrible tragedy. The Prentice family has suffered a huge loss and are double struck, as Ken Gellatly was father-in-law to Jim’s daughter Cassia,” said Starke.

I first met Jim in May of 2014, I had not met him personally before that. I got to know him quite quickly over the next few months while he was seeking the leadership of our party. He struck me a very decent and very honourable person. He did things that he didn’t need to do, but he did them because he thought they were important and that should be done.

One example was when Jim had offered a young man who was working in my office to be his press secretary during his campaign, as he had known him from Ottawa. Jim phoned me in advance and said I feel it is important that you know that I have offered to him. Jim told me because he didn’t want me to feel that he had poached a member of my staff. That was the first time it really struck me, ‘wow this guy really has a great sense of what is right.’

“He had a real heart for rural Alberta and that heart for rural Alberta remained after he became prominent in Calgary. The compassionate side of Jim Prentice was that he really cared about what was going on in rural Alberta, and not everybody had an opportunity to see that side of him.

“He was a very close friend to Calgary MLA Manmeet Bhullar who was killed last year along the highway between Calgary and Edmonton. He and Jim were very close. This time last year Jim was right there with Manmeet’s family. He told me when Manmeet passed “Manmeet was my best friend.

“We have lost someone whose mark on Canada and Alberta will be felt for many years.

When Jim was cabinet minister he indicated the process that led to the resident schools inquiry, and he had a deep sense of connection with our indigenous people. One of the things that Jim often talked about was our need to forge a better and stronger relationship with our indigenous people,” said Starke.

Canada's Transportation Safety Board said they are investigating the wreckage of the downed Citation jet that was traveling to Calgary, Alberta, which crashed shortly after its takeoff from Kelowna, British Columbia, to discover how the accident occurred.

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