B.C. MP Mark Warawa dies after 'valiant battle' with cancer
Cancer diagnosis in April came 3 months after announcement of his retirement from politics
British Columbia MP Mark Warawa has died "after a brief but valiant battle with cancer," according to his office.
A statement issued by his office said the Conservative MP for Langley-Aldergrove died Thursday morning in hospice with his wife by his side. He was 69.
His family also posted a statement on Facebook saying that, in his final message to constituents, Warawa said it had been "an incredible honour to have served my community since being elected federally in 2004."
In April, Warawa announced doctors had found cancer in his lungs, colon and lymph nodes. The diagnosis came after he had publicly announced in January he would retire from politics to become a chaplain, with a focus on pastoral care for seniors. He had hoped to stay on the job as an MP until the October election.
"He embraced this journey as he did most things — with an open heart and prayer," said the statement from Warawa's office.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Warawa "was an example to which all parliamentarians should aspire."
"A respectful contributor to the debate, a fierce advocate for his constituents, and a strong defender of his principles," wrote Scheer in a statement.
"Mark was a true gentleman. And while his warmth and kindness knew no partisan bounds, his love for his Conservative family was special. The Conservative caucus is devastated. He will be missed dearly."
Fellow caucus member Ed Fast said he should be a remembered as a man who loved his country, family and God.
"I think he would have encouraged all of us to appreciate and value what we have in this country, our democratic institutions, our freedoms, the human rights that we uphold and defend," the Abbotsford MP told CBC. "He was a passionate promoter of Canadian values."
Lisa Raitt, the deputy Conservative leader, shares a birthday with Warawa. She wrote in a tweet that while he has moved on to a better place, she will carry him in her heart forever.
"Thank you to his whole family for sharing him with our country," Raitt said. "We are richer for it."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also sent along condolences, saying Warawa "lived his life in service to others."
NDP MP Nathan Cullen, who also represents a B.C. riding, stood in the House on Wednesday to tell a story about how Warawa once apologized for yelling at him during an argument.
"For him, I think, politics was very personal but he never made it personal. That's a rare gift," he said.
Pushed for palliative care
Warawa used his emotional farewell address to the House of Commons last month to call for changes to ensure more Canadians have access to palliative care.
"We're trying to fix the body, but in some cases it's better not to do the heroic things," he said, referring to treatments like chemotherapy and surgery.
"Science has shown us that you can live longer and [have] a better quality of life, in some cases, if you're given palliative care. But that was not provided to me, those options. Why is that? The system's broken and needs to be fixed."
He also urged his fellow MPs to focus on taking care of their bodies, and stressed the importance of spending time with their families.
"Because when you're gone, you're gone — and it's over. So, make sure that's a priority in your life."
Warawa leaves his wife of 46 years, Diane, their five children and 10 grandchildren.
With files from The Canadian Press