British Columbia

Cabinet minister Hagen's sudden death a 'great loss': premier

B.C. Agriculture and Lands Minister Stan Hagen died Tuesday afternoon, Premier Gordon Campbell said.
Stan Hagen was appointed minister of agriculture and lands in June 2008. ((B.C. Liberal Party))

B.C. Agriculture and Lands Minister Stan Hagen died Tuesday afternoon, Premier Gordon Campbell said.

Campbell said Tuesday night that he and Hagen held a meeting with the B.C. Cattlemen's Association in Victoria in the afternoon and the Comox Valley MLA passed away some time later.

"I know that he passed away at some point later in the afternoon. I don’t know the details," Campbell told CBC News in a telephone interview.

Roland Baumann, president of the cattlemen's association, said he was shocked about the news.

Hagen appeared to be in good health when he left the meeting at about 3 p.m. PT and was even joking with others, Baumann said.

Campbell issued a statement Tuesday night after learning of "the sudden passing" of the long-time politician.

The premier's statement did not mention how Hagen died, but CBC News later confirmed with a spokesman for the premier's office that Hagen did not die in a car accident or from a reoccurrence of his prostate cancer.

Hagen was diagnosed with the cancer in 2004, when he was minister of tourism, sport and the arts, and underwent treatment.

Reports that Hagen died of a heart attack in a Victoria restaurant have not been confirmed.

Campbell describes Hagen's death as a "great loss."

"My biggest memory of Stan Hagen is not any big project. It's thousands and thousands of projects he did that will affect people's lives for decades to come," Campbell said.

Hagen took over the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands in June 2008. He had served as head of various ministries including Tourism, Sport and the Arts; Children and Family Development; Human Resources; and Sustainable Resource Management.

First elected to the B.C. legislature in 1986, he represented what was then the riding of Comox until 1991. He was general manager of a paving company until he returned to politics and was elected in the riding of Comox Valley in 2001. He was re-elected in 2005.

"He loved British Columbia and the people who live here. Our thoughts and prayers are with [wife] Judy and all his children as they mourn the passing of their father," the premier said in his statement.

"He embodied the spirit of the honourable member of the legislature. He will be sorely missed," Campbell said.

Born in New Westminster in 1940, Hagen leaves behind his wife and five children.

Opposition leader Carole James issued a statement Tuesday night.

"It is with great sadness that I learned tonight of the passing of the MLA for Comox Valley, Stan Hagen," James said.

"On behalf the New Democratic caucus and party, I offer my deepest condolences to his family, friends and to everyone he touched in a life of service and commitment to our province."