Jim Carr, Manitoba MP and former Liberal cabinet minister, dies after battle with cancer

Manitoba MP and former Liberal cabinet minister Jim Carr has died after a battle with cancer.

'I love every square metre of this country,' Carr said in one of his last interviews

Liberal MP and former Cabinet Minister Jim Carr dies

10 months ago
Duration 2:03
Jim Carr, a prominent Manitoba MP and former cabinet minister, has died after a battle with cancer. With 30 years in business and later politics, he is being remembered for his tenacity, humour and advocacy for the Prairies.

Manitoba MP and former Liberal cabinet minister Jim Carr is being remembered for his humour and dedication to Canada following his death after a battle with cancer.

The news was announced in the House of Commons Monday. Carr was 71.

Carr, who had represented Winnipeg South Centre since 2015, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma — a type of blood cancer — the day after he was re-elected on Oct. 21, 2019. He also battled kidney failure.

In one of his final interviews, Carr told CBC's Power & Politics last week that while his health was failing, he was still grateful for another opportunity to contribute to the country he loved so much.

"Physically not great, but emotionally really, really solid and grateful for the chance to continue to contribute to my country," he said with a smile.

"I love every square metre of this country in English, en Francais, in Indigenous languages — I wish I spoke more of them — in the language of the newly arrived and all that represents to Canada and Canadians."

WATCH | In an interview last week, Jim Carr discusses health, private member's bill

Manitoba MP pushes for greener prairie economies as he battles cancer

10 months ago
Duration 7:09
"It's not good enough to gab," Manitoba Liberal MP Jim Carr told Power & Politics about his Building a Green Prairie Economy Act. "You have to say to Parliamentarians, we've been at this for a year and here's what we have done so far; here's where we intend to go."

In a statement, his family said he was pleased to see his bill, "Building a Green Prairie Economy," pass through the House of Commons just last week.

"Working with his fellow members of Parliament across the country over the past few months on this important legislation filled him with energy and kept his spirits high," the family wrote.

"As a dedicated elected official, business and community leader in Manitoba for over 30 years, Jim was loved and respected by so many and we know he will be profoundly missed."

Carr remembered as 'a gentleman' 

His passing brought on a wave of condolence messages from across the country and from his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country has lost a dedicated parliamentarian.

"Jim Carr's passion, tenacity, integrity, humour and commitment to the Prairies were second to none — and we'll miss him dearly," he tweeted.

WATCH | Trudeau remembers Jim Carr

‘Mostly I’m going to miss him as a friend’ - Trudeau remembers Jim Carr

10 months ago
Duration 1:06
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau comments on the death of Manitoba MP Jim Carr.

"I always admired his unfailing commitment to the betterment of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada," tweeted Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson.

Paying tribute on Twitter, former Conservative leader Erin O' Toole called Carr honourable and "very well respected on all sides."

NDP MP Charlie Angus called him a class act.

"We sat near each other in the House. Every day I asked him, 'How are you doing Jim?' 'Every day counts,' he would say with a big smile," Angus tweeted.

"He served Canada with honour."

WATCH | MPs remember Jim Carr

MPs remember Jim Carr

10 months ago
Duration 1:41
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities Dominic LeBlanc, NDP MP Charlie Angus and Conservative MP James Bezan comment on the death of Liberal MP Jim Carr.

MP played oboe professionally 

Carr served in two high-profile roles before taking a step back following his diagnosis.

He first sat at the cabinet table as natural resources minister and helped to oversee the government's $4.5-billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Carr was then given the international trade portfolio in the summer of 2018. As the NAFTA negotiations raged on, he was given the task of diversifying Canada's trade partnerships beyond the United States.

Julian Ovens, who served as Jim Carr's chief of staff when he was trade minister, said groups like the Ottawa team working on World Trade Organization reform only worked because of his chairmanship.

"He was a gentleman. A moderate. A great colleague ... and absolutely the best chair of any organization or meeting one could ask for," he said.

"He was an important member of the Jewish community in Winnipeg. He was always interested in how he could advance peace. Manitoba and the Prairies were always close to his heart in Ottawa."

Carr worked as a professional oboist and journalist before a stint in provincial politics. He then became president and CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba and was awarded the Order of Manitoba. 

Liberal MP Marc Garneau, a former astronaut, tweeted what he called his "best memory" of Carr.

"He asked me if I took music in space and I mentioned Marcello's Oboe concerto. He then told me he played the oboe and we cooked up the idea for him to play the second movement at Liberal national caucus," wrote Garneau.

"He was excellent. A sweet moment."

A public memorial will be held for Carr on Saturday at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg.


Catharine Tunney is a reporter with CBC's Parliament Hill bureau, where she covers national security and the RCMP. She worked previously for CBC in Nova Scotia. You can reach her at catharine.tunney@cbc.ca

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