British Columbia

B.C. colleagues and friends mourning death of Jim Prentice

Former Alberta premier Jim Prentice is being remembered on the west side of the Rockies as a man who kept his word, cared deeply for the people he represented and carried himself with dignity.

Former Alberta premier and federal environment minister Jim Prentice worked closely on B.C. issues

Then Alberta premier Jim Prentice (right) speaks as B.C. Premier Christy Clark (left) and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall (centre) look on in Regina on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. ( Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

Former Alberta premier Jim Prentice is being remembered in British Columbia as a man who kept his word, cared deeply for the people he represented and carried himself with dignity. The longtime politician was killed after the plane he was travelling in crashed north of Kelowna.

"Jim Prentice devoted his life to public service and making Canada better. It's hard work doing that and all the slings and arrows involved with that," said B.C. Premier Christy Clark. "I don't know if in politics I have met many people who were people of such good character."

"He was a man of his word and he was a man who wanted the best for the people he served. It is hard to lose people who were really the best."

Strong ties to B.C.

When Prentice was elected in 2014 as the premier of Alberta, it kicked off a period of warm relations between the B.C. and Alberta governments. His first trip outside of Alberta after being sworn into his job as premier was to Vancouver.

The longtime politician also had a unique understanding of the issues that have defined the relationship between British Columbia and Alberta. As a lawyer, Prentice served as a law commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission of Canada.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and then Alberta premier Jim Prentice formed a close relationship as elected officials. (The Canadian Press)

As federal environment minister, Prentice was front and centre in the conversation about the impact of moving crude oil from Alberta to British Columbia's coast.

"As environment minister, Jim showed genuine concern to protecting the environment. Professionally, I will remember him fondly for his principled stance in rejecting the Prosperity Mine near Fish Lake, British Columbia in 2010," said Green Party Leader and Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May in a statement. "It's a sad day for Canada and for all of us in public life. Jim will be missed."

'A good guy'

Prentice was known by colleagues around Stephen Harper's federal cabinet table as a policy leader who was also 'a good guy.' Former senior B.C. MP James Moore was emotional speaking about his friend, his voice cracking when referring to Prentice in the past tense for the first time.

Moore and Prentice maintained a close friendship even after they both left elected office. But it was the controversial issue of supporting same-sex marriage while they were both politicians that led to their friendship. 

Then Alberta premier Jim Prentice visited B.C. Premier Christy Clark on his first trip outside of Alberta after being sworn in. (CBC )

"Jim and I had a bond back in 2005. He and I were two of the three Conservatives who voted in favour of same-sex marriage out of 100 Conservatives in Parliament. We were a lonely couple of people, and I just remember him and I sort of bonding over that and our view that the future would judge us kindly," said Moore. "He was a very substantive guy who understood the challenges and tensions of moving public sector policy forward." 

'A brilliant mind and a great heart'

Former federal minister Stockwell Day said Canadians will remember Prentice as a person who "had the world open to him" but decided to leave the public sector and return to Alberta to run for the PC leadership and eventually became premier — Day remembering the 60 year-old as a politician that easily honed in on what mattered most to people. 

Former minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages James Moore looks on as former minister of the environment Jim Prentice calls for calm during a news conference in Dec. 2008 after the opposition parties announced they would try and form a coalition government. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

"When we were working on a tough file, he was usually the first one to come up with a way forward. A brilliant mind and a great heart. Obviously, a great loss for his family and Canada," said Day. "He comes to mind as the guy on the toughest of issues, most complicated and the ones that were going to require the clearest response. There was a confidence that when he gave you the analysis, it was going to be the way to go."