Tory MP dies suddenly in Hill office

The Canadian Press
Mia Rabson

OTTAWA–Ashen-faced MPs of all political stripes commiserated with their stricken Conservative colleagues after hearing the news yesterday that longtime Ontario Tory MP Gord Brown had died suddenly in his Parliament Hill office.
Brown, 57, was a veteran MP representing the eastern Ontario riding of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
He first was elected in 2004 and won re-election three more times, including most recently in 2015.
“Heartbroken at the passing of our dear friend Gord Brown,” tweeted Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
“A sudden and tragic loss for anyone who knew him.
“One of the most upbeat guys I’ve known,” Scheer added. “Please pray for his wife and children as they cope with this terrible loss.”
Party sources say Brown played hockey early yesterday before coming into his Parliament Hill office, which is where he was found.
The Conservative caucus was in the middle of its weekly meeting inside the Centre Block when the gathering suddenly was cut short around 11 a.m.
Not long afterward, Tory MPs were called back into the meeting and given the news.
Many looked visibly shaken and close to tears as they emerged from the room.
“I just miss him,” said veteran Tory MP Tony Clement, his eyes brimming, as he described a man he has counted as a close friend for more than 35 years.
Being an MP “takes years off your life and we do it willingly,” he noted.
Clement later posted a photo of the two of them, sitting in deck chairs on the patio of the Canadian embassy.
The picture was taken just last month when the pair travelled to Washington, D.C.
“We were arm-wrestling over whether to call the chairs Thousand Island chairs or Muskoka chairs,” Clement recalled.
“He won. So many memories.”
Clement asked people to keep a thought for Brown’s wife, Claudine, and their two sons, Chance and Tristan.
Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs recalled how Brown was the party whip when she first arrived on the Hill, and served as a mentor to her and other new MPs to help them learn the ropes.
Details about precisely what happened were still unclear, she said.
Brown first ran for the House of Commons in 2000 under the banner of the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance party and was defeated.
Following his breakthrough win in 2004, he was re-elected in 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2015.
Before entering federal politics, he was a town councillor in Gananoque, Ont., president of the 1000 Islands-Gananoque Chamber of Commerce, and chair of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, a provincial government agency which owns parks and attractions from Kingston to the Quebec border.
Politicians from all political stripes took to social media to express their sorrow at Brown’s passing.
He was described as a fun, accessible, and well-liked MP with a great sense of humour.
Former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird said he was heartbroken to hear the news.
“We had been in the political trenches together since I was 15 years old,” noted Baird.
“Great guy, great parliamentarian, great friend.”
Gerry Butts, principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, went to the Tory caucus room to express condolences on behalf of the Liberal caucus.
“It’s just a really sad day today,” added NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.