CALGARY — Former Alberta premier Jim Prentice took the stage as master of ceremonies and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi also paid tribute at a packed public memorial service for an provincial politician killed while helping a motorist in a snowstorm.
Prentice told mourners at Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium on Sunday that Manmeet Bhullar would have been "surprised and humbled at the response to his death.''
But he said Bhullar's life inspired Canadians in every corner of the nation.
Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, left, and former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice embrace during a state memorial service for Alberta MLA Manmeet Bhullar. (Photo: Mike Ridewood/CP)
Bhullar, who represented the riding of Calgary-Greenway in the legislature as a Progressive Conservative, was on his way to Edmonton from Calgary last week when he stopped to help after coming across a motor vehicle accident north of Red Deer.
As the 35-year-old got out of his vehicle he was struck by a semi that had lost control, and he later died in hospital.
Bhullar served in three cabinet portfolios — Service Alberta, Human Services and Infrastructure — under the previous PC government.
"He did not fear death. His faith was absolute. He always said that he would return to God when he was needed,'' Prentice said, paying tribute as other speakers did about Bhullar's Sikh faith.
Nenshi, meanwhile, talked about how Bhullar's turban has been an inspiring message to other Canadians.
"It says to every single kid in this community that it doesn't matter what you look like, or where you come from, or what you wear on your hear or who you worship or whom you love, it doesn't matter,'' Nenshi said.
Tonight, downtown Calgary landmarks will be lit in navy blue (his favourite colour) in honour of our friend Manmeet Bhullar.— Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) November 29, 2015
As human services minister in 2014, Bhullar took action following a newspaper's investigative series revealing that 45 children had died in government care over a 14-year period. Bhullar put through changes allowing names and cases to be made public in the future.
"He stood up for the most vulnerable people in our society, for children in care. He said 'We're not doing right by them,''' Nenshi said. "That was the point where I saw those broad shoulders soften a little bit.''
Tributes were also read from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, and a video eulogy was played from Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
Tarjinder Kaur Bhullar and brother Appy Singh Bhullar speak at a state memorial service for their brother, Alberta MLA Manmeet Bhullar. (Photo: Mike Ridewood/CP)
Bhullar's sister, Tarjinder Bhullar, thanked family, friends and Canadians during the service for the large outpouring of condolences.
"Never when my parents immigrated to this country over 40 years ago, would they have imagined that one day their son would be this loved by Calgarians, Albertans and Canadians as one of their own,'' she said.
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