Canadian Sikh Manmeet Bhullar legislator killed in highway mishap

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Edmonton
  • Updated: Nov 24, 2015 21:18 IST
Canada’s Alberta legislature Manmeet Bhullar. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

Manmeet Bhullar, Progressive Conservative member of Canada’s Alberta legislature, was killed in a highway accident on Monday, trying to help another accident victim while driving from Calgary to this provincial capital.

The accident happened during the first heavy snowfall of the season in central Alberta. Investigation, so far, indicates that a northbound vehicle lost control and rolled into the median on the south side of a hill. Two northbound vehicles then stopped on the left shoulder of the highway to assist.

A semi-truck that was also northbound, and descending the hill, appears to have lost control, striking the rear of the first vehicle that had stopped to assist, then continued into the median out of control and struck the driver, and sole occupant of the second vehicle, who was outside his vehicle on foot in the median. This driver was Bhullar. Taken to hospital by ambulance, he died of the injuries sustained.

Interim party leader Ric McIver issued a statement in the evening on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus: “Manmeet was much-loved as a husband to Namrita and a dear friend, not just to his colleagues but also to anyone who came to know him”.

Reacting to the news of Sikh legislator’s death, Alberta premier Rachel Notley, who was in Canadian capital Ottawa for first ministers’ meetings, issued a statement that all Albertans should be proud of Bhullar’s “significant contributions to public life”. “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,” she said.

Former Edmonton Tory MLA David Dorward said MLAs from outside Edmonton were well aware of the dangers they might face while driving the province’s highways to get to and from the legislature. “We talked about it a lot in caucus,” he said. “If it was bad weather, we would be texting back and forth, saying don’t come... we’ll cover that meeting.”

Minutes after the news story was posted on the CBC Edmonton website, people across the province began to respond on Twitter. “Saddened to hear of Manmeet’s passing (away),” finance minister Joe Ceci wrote in a Tweet. Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said: “On our last lunch, he told me about how being in opposition gave him the time and capacity to work on issues close to him, including the plight of Sikhs seeking to escape Afghanistan,” reported the CBC news.

Bhullar’s family issued a statement thanking people for their support.

A profile

Bhullar, 35, served as Alberta’s minister of infrastructure, human services, and service in the Alison Redford government

The member for Calgary-Greenway was first elected to the Alberta Legislature in March 2008

First named to cabinet in 2011; in 2013, replaced a veteran leader as human services minister

Helped rewrite a law that placed an automatic ban on the release of the names of children who died in provincial care (The controversial ban had prevented even parents from speaking out)

In September 2014, he became infrastructure minister in the short-lived Prentice government

Bhullar was re-elected twice

He founded the Inspire Youth Development Society, which works with at-risk youth

He was active in the Sikh community.

Badal mourns death

Chandigarh: Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has expressed “shock and grief over the death of Alberta Sikh leader Manmeet Singh Bhullar.

In his condolence message to Bhullar’s wife, Namrita, he described Manmeet Singh as “one of Punjab’s most beloved sons who brought glory and honour not only to the Sikh community but also to Punjab and India.”

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