Liberal MP for Winnipeg South Centre Jim Carr is being remembered as a dedicated representative and a bridge builder. The former cabinet minister died Monday at the age of 71, after a years-long battle with cancer.
Carr’s death was announced in the House of Commons by a fellow Winnipeg MP, Kevin Lamoureux. “We all know Jim’s passion for his country,” he said.
The sombre news was met with gasps in the chamber, followed by a moment of silence. The House of Commons then adjourned for the day.
In a statement that came shortly after, his family said that Carr “passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his family and loved ones.” Carr was a husband, father, and grandfather.
First elected in 2015, Carr was into his third term as MP, while also battling multiple myeloma and kidney failure since 2019. As part of his treatment, Carr received dialysis, chemotherapy, and a bone marrow transplant.
“Over the past three years, he fought these diseases bravely and courageously with the incredible support of his staff, colleagues, and loved ones,” said his family, thanking the doctors, nurses and medical staff for their care.
Between 2015 and 2019, Carr held the roles of natural resources minister, minister of international trade diversification, and as the special representative for the Prairies.
Following his diagnosis, Carr stepped back from cabinet, before returning as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Special Representative for the Prairies, with Trudeau at the time saying he was glad to have Carr back around the table, and to see him healthy.
He held this role—first given to him after the 2019 federal election saw the Liberals entirely wiped out of Saskatchewan and Alberta as a way to still have Liberal cabinet representation from the region—until Trudeau reconfigured his cabinet following the 2021 federal election.
“Right up until the very end of his remarkable life, he was fighting for Winnipeggers, Manitobans and Canadians,” his family said in the statement. “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 was last in the Commons last week, where he oversaw the House passage of his private member’s bill, Bill C-235, Building a Green Prairie Economy. His family said focusing on this legislation and his cross-party effort “filled him with energy and kept his spirits high.”
Reflecting on this, Deputy Speaker Chris D’Entremont said: “It just shows up how quickly things can change in our lives,” passing on his condolences to his family, friends, and constituents.
In his final speech in the House of Commons on Dec. 6, Carr started off by saying: “I love this country, every square metre of it, in English, in French, in Indigenous languages and in the languages of the newly arrived,” before going on to share some broader reflections about the state of democracy and his respect for Parliament.
Prior to politics, Carr began his career with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as an oboist, before working as a local journalist and columnist. He entered public life in 1988 when he was elected to the Manitoba Legislative Assembly to represent Fort Rouge. Carr then went on to become the founding CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba. He was also the founding co-chair of the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council.
His family said that his constituency office will remain open to continue serving the riding, until a new member of Parliament is elected.
On election night in 2021, Carr told CTV News Winnipeg that he was “very grateful” that his constituents had showed confidence in him serving them “a little while longer.”
‘HE DEVOTED HIS LIFE TO THIS COUNTRY’
Condolences and expressions of sympathy quickly streamed in on Monday, both in Ottawa and from his home province.
Speaking with reporters outside of the Prime Minister’s office, an emotional Trudeau said that that Carr’s legacy “will be one of service, one of thoughtful leadership, one of deep and abiding passion for this country and for its people, along with a real commitment to thoughtful solutions that bring people together.”
“I knew he’d been sick for awhile but you can’t be ready for these kinds of moments,” said Trudeau.
“He will be forever missed, Trudeau said. In an earlier social media post, the prime minister said that many had lost “a close friend,” and that his commitment to the Prairies was “second to none.”
Colleague and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc spoke to reporters in Ottawa on Monday afternoon, reflecting on the “sad bond” they had as both having recent experience battling forms of blood cancer and all of the health and personal challenges that brought.
“I remember I was still in the hospital recovering from my own stem cell transplant when I saw the news that the day after the election … he, too, was admitted to hospital,” LeBlanc said. “He and I over the last year spoke of our shared experiences going through these similar but different medical treatments. So obviously for me it’s quite painful to think that somebody who was in a similar struggle to mine passed away today.”
“He devoted his life to his country,” said Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez on his way in to West Block, ahead of the day’s proceedings, halting out of respect for Carr’s memory. “He’s going to be missed. I loved the guy.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly reflected on first meeting Carr on their way to the 2015 Rideau Hall swearing-in ceremony, saying the pair clicked right away.
“Jim was a bridge builder. He was a man that believed in the positive change that politics can bring,” she said.
“Horrible news,” said Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal, who is also the minister responsible for economic development in the Prairies. “We’re going to miss him so much. It’s a sad day for Canada. My condolences to his family.”
On social media, Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, with “a heavy heart,” offered her condolences.
“Over the years Jim and I worked on many projects together. I always admired his unfailing commitment,” she tweeted.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Carr was “an honourable and kind man,” in sharing his condolences online.
“As a neighbouring MP, I know how dedicated Jim was to serving his constituents,” said Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan in a tweet. “My love and condolences go out to his family, friends, staff and colleagues. May he rest in peace.”
Source: CTV News