Mr. Speaker, it is a very sad day for our Conservative family and for our parliamentary family.
Our colleague and friend Jim Hillyer passed away very suddenly this morning; and I thank you for your kindness this morning, Mr. Speaker.
This has come as a shock to all of us who knew Jim and worked closely with him. He was a friend. However, most of all, our thoughts and prayers are with his family, with his wife Livi, and with his kids, who have these fantastic names: London, Taylor, Asia, and Nation. I spoke with her this morning, and she wanted me to pass along her thanks for all of the kindness.
Jim was a valued member of our Conservative team. He was a passionate advocate for the people he represented.
I would like to extend our most sincere condolences to Jim's wife, Livi, and his four children in this time of painful loss.
I made sure this was in my speech, because Jim spoke very good French, and he was very proud of that.
I know that the thoughts of every member of this House are with his family today. I have heard from many members; all of us have, and I want to thank them for their kindness.
I want Canadians to know that Jim was so proud to represent his constituents in the riding of Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner and, before that, the riding of Lethbridge, where he was first elected in 2011. He described the job of being an MP as the job he had wanted his whole life.
Before being elected, Jim was an entrepreneur. Like so many westerners, he was very proud to make a living in the natural resources sector.
He also brought with him to Parliament an understanding and a great sympathy for the concerns of regular, hard-working Canadians, and it really showed.
When we talked to Jim, it was like talking to a neighbour. It was clear that he loved his life, he loved his wife, he loved his community, and he loved his job.
He was very open, very honest, and a very humble guy, and he had a goofy sense of humour. He was the kind of guy who people were proud to have represent them and one who they felt they could approach. He took his job very seriously.
As I said, he had a goofy sense of humour. He said something funny in the media recently. He was from southern Alberta; that says something about him. He was talking about Donald Trump. He was asked about his views on Donald Trump. He said, “We’re kind of redneck down here, but not that redneck”. He was a funny guy.
He was a funny guy, but he was also a fighter. Many people here may not know that he had faced and beaten leukemia earlier in his life, and he sought to help others by becoming a spokesman for the Canadian Cancer Society.
A lot of us here know that he had a very serious ski accident. After his ski accident, he had to use a little scooter because he had hurt his leg quite badly. It was the kind of scooter that senior citizens use. However, he was only 41, so we teased him a lot about that.
In fact, one of the House of Commons security guards, Franchi, told me this morning that his memory of Jim was that he kept threatening to give him a speeding ticket for his scooter.
There were a lot of issues about which Jim was passionate. Here in Ottawa, he fought for a stronger justice system, he sponsored some tough-on-crime legislation, and he was really passionate about keeping his community safe and respecting the rights of victims.
He worked hard and he had a family, so he did not have a lot of spare time. However, he did have some hobbies. When he was here, he used to play hockey with his MP colleagues, and he also volunteered for minor hockey back in his riding.
At home, he was a very devoted dad. He was also a music lover. I did not know this myself, because it did not fit my view of Jim, but he was an amazing violin player, and he played in the Lethbridge Symphony, and he was even a singer.
I wanted to say that some members may not have had a chance to get to know Jim, because they are new to the House. That is okay. Their thoughts and prayers mean just as much to his family, and I thank them for their support, on the family's behalf.
I thank all the MPs for the kindness they have shown to those friends of Jim's in the House.
In particular, Mr. Speaker, thank you for the arrangements you have made for today.
It is my hope that, in the coming days, the pain we feel will be replaced by the great memory of Jim as a friend, as a father, and as a great public servant.
This Parliament is better for having had Jim serve in it, and we are better to have known him.
I thank everyone for their kindness today.