Former federal Liberal cabinet minister Andy Scott died in Fredericton of cancer and is being remembered as a politician with a social conscience. He was 58.

Scott represented Fredericton in the House of Commons from 1993 to 2008 and served as solicitor general under former prime minister Jean Chretien and then the minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in the Paul Martin government.

Many of Scott's friends and colleagues described him on Tuesday as a leader and a politician with a social conscience.

Flags on all government buildings in Fredericton will be at half-mast until sunset the day of his funeral, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages James Moore posted on Twitter.

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Andy Scott, a former federal cabinet minister, died in Fredericton. He was 58.

Premier David Alward issued a statement, saying he learned of Scott's passing "with great regret and sadness."

He described Scott as a "tireless community builder," who was "always driven to help people and lay the foundation for a better future in his community and throughout our province."

"Andy never backed away from a challenge or an opportunity to make a difference," Alward said.

Former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna said he spoke with Scott last week. Their friendship spanned decades.

"He was the most earnest and the most compassionate human being that I have ever come across," McKenna in an interview with Terry Seguin of CBC's Information Morning Fredericton.

Scott worked for McKenna as a senior civil servant, where he was responsible for spreading the importance of literacy around the province.

The former premier said Scott’s work to advance the cause of literacy will be one of his lasting legacies.

"He is going to be one of the last of the old-time politicians, somebody who wanted to touch the people, not through social media, not through robocalls, but being there with them and by just soaking up their emotions," McKenna said.

Another of Scott’s legacies is his work with First Nations communities across the country from his time as a federal minister and his later work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

'Andy Scott, the politician, was Andy Scott, the person. There was no pretence about him. He was a very generous, he was a very compassionate person.'— Former prime minister Paul Martin

Martin, who had appointed Scott as the minister of Indian affairs, described Scott as "the architect of the Kelowna Accord," the agreement that promised more than $5 billion over 10 years to upgrade health care, housing and education for First Nations.

But the former prime minister said he knew how much the people of Fredericton meant to Scott.

Martin said he visited Fredericton’s Boyce Farmers Market on several occasions with Scott and said he could tell how much he meant to his constituents.

Scott was known to spend hours every Saturday morning at the market, speaking to people about the issues of the day.

"Andy Scott, the politician, was Andy Scott, the person. There was no pretence about him. He was a very generous, he was a very compassionate person," Martin said.

"He was so gentle, and yet he was a tremendous fighter for the things in which he believed. He loved New Brunswick."

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant also praised Scott's commitment to social causes.

"Andy’s passing is a great loss to all.  His passion and dedication to social issues knew no limits and extended well beyond partisan lines. Andy was a great father, leader and Canadian. He meant a lot to many and will be sadly missed," Gallant said in a statement.

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Scott's commitment to community was "the hallmark of his character.

"Throughout his life, and long before Andy entered federal politics, he sought to empower those around him, particularly the disadvantaged as well as persons with disabilities," Trudeau said in a statement.

"While losing Andy comes as a shock to us all, he leaves behind a great legacy of championing social justice and evidence-based policy."

Scott was also remembered warmly by people who represented other political parties.

Dennis Cochrane, a former leader of the New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Party, said Scott’s ability to hold the riding of Fredericton, which is traditionally a Conservative seat, demonstrated how he could reach out to people who did not always agree with him.

"As a very left-wing Liberal, there is no doubt that Andy had a very strong social conscience," he said. "He was left of centre, and Fredericton, normally by tradition, is right of centre, but Andy still represented Fredericton well.

"He was extremely conscientious of keeping in touch with his constituents and spoke well of the traits he had in politics."

Federal political career

Scott entered politics in 1993, winning the Fredericton seat for Chretien’s Liberals.

He was promoted to cabinet in 1997. His cabinet career, however, was cut short.

He was forced to leave the Chretien cabinet in 1998 after he was overheard by NDP MP Dick Proctor discussing an inquiry into the RCMP's handling of protests at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation conference on an airplane.

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Scott walks in Fredericton with his wife, Denise Cameron Scott. (CBC)

Scott said he did not prejudge the inquiry's outcome, but he resigned from the Chretien cabinet.

He was also known to take controversial stands on social issues. In 2003, Scott was attacked in his constituency office in downtown Fredericton over his support for same-sex marriage.

Scott decided not to run in the 2008 federal election.

After politics, Scott led a social policy research network at the University of New Brunswick.

In the last year, Scott also served as an honorary witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

His commitment to education was also celebrated by the New Brunswick government last week.

Education Minister Jody Carr named Scott New Brunswick's first "Official Learning Champion" last week in the legislature.

During Carr's tribute to Scott last week, he praised the former MP's ability to "strategize and help move New Brunswick's learning agenda forward.

"We want to let Andy know he is well thought of by our government and the people of New Brunswick. And all those people who wanted a voice in the need for social change," Carr said last week.

"He believed there is no such thing as winners and losers — but only winners. He said recently, that politics should not be about winning the debate, instead it’s about bringing people around the same table so that everybody wins. Andy helped us demonstrate that with New Brunswick’s learning agenda."

Scott was married to Denise Cameron Scott and had three children, Nathan, Nicholas and Noah.