Conservative MP Gord Brown dies after heart attack in Parliament Hill office
Members of Parliament from all political parties are mourning the loss of one of their own following the death of Conservative MP Gord Brown from a heart attack in his Ottawa office Wednesday morning.
The news was confirmed shortly before noon to members of the party, who shared it with reporters, at the weekly caucus meeting on Parliament Hill, while a senior adviser told Global News that Brown had suffered a heart attack.
Brown, 57, was first elected in the federal riding of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands since 2004 and has held the seat ever since.
He leaves two young sons, Chance and Tristan, and a wife, Claudine.
His Twitter biography describes himself as a “hockey dad.”
WATCH BELOW: Conservative MP Tony Clement fought back tears discussing the passing of fellow Conservative Gord Brown
Question period was cancelled and parliamentary business adjourned for the rest of the day.
Instead, MPs gathered to share tributes and memories of Brown in the House of Commons.
A framed photo of Brown raising his hockey stick up into the air had been placed on his empty desk prior to the statements along with a blue hockey jersey with his number, 27, from the Ottawa Morning Hockey League he played on and a vase of white flowers.
“To say that we are all shocked and saddened by his passing would be an understatement,” said Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, rising as the first to speak in tribute.
“I know that Gord always held the respect of all members in this House.”
Scheer told members that when Brown was appointed Conservative whip, staff members got him a bull whip which he took to cracking at random moments throughout the work day.
“I remember for the first few days of that session I could always hear the crack of that bull whip,” Scheer said to laughter from the benches.
“I was always worried he was going to hurt himself.”
Parliamentary colleagues praised Brown as a “fair-minded” and “true blue Conservative” but not one who was “ideological,” and said his open and engaging nature made it easy for members from all political stripes to respect and like him.
WATCH BELOW: Conservative MPs react to the death of fellow Conservative Gord Brown
Prior to being elected federally, he served as a town councillor in Gananoque, Ont., and was involved in leading local business advocacy groups in the communities around the Brockville area.
He served as president of the 1000 Islands-Gananoque Chamber of Commerce and was chair of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission.
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According to the biography on his official website, Brown was active in sports and played both hockey in winter as well as golf and kayaking in the summer months, and played on the Ottawa Morning Hockey league as a winger.
A game was scheduled for early Wednesday morning but it is not clear if Brown played.
He was also Canadian kayaking champion with the Gananoque Canoe Club and held a bachelor of political science from Ottawa’s Carleton University.
WATCH BELOW: John Baird shares how Gord Brown helped him make the leap to federal politics
Brown served the riding for years and during his most recent campaign for re-election was touted by former federal cabinet minister John Baird as the person who convinced Baird to switch from provincial to federal politics.
“He really encouraged me to make the leap and was a big factor,” Baird told Global News on Wednesday, noting he had spoken to Brown only yesterday.
“I talked to him yesterday for about 10 minutes. He was in great form, making plans for his role in Parliament, his role in the party … He was just a really great guy.”
Baird said following news of Brown’s death he was reflecting on memories such as when Brown accompanied him for his first meeting with then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013 as well as Brown’s response to the teasing from colleagues over what the 2016 incident known as “Elbowgate.”
WATCH BELOW: John Baird reflects on ‘Elbowgate’ and Gord Brown’s legacy
“He had a great sense of humour, you could always razz him,” said Baird. “We razzed him quite a bit about that.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as well as numerous current and former members of the Conservative caucuses in the House of Commons and the Senate, also shared their sadness and shock at Brown’s death.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also spoke with reporters prior to a gathering of MPs in the House of Commons to offer tributes to Brown.
“Gord was a remarkable man,” he said.
“It’s really a moment to reflect on this parliamentary community and different points of view. Gord was particularly good at transcending the points of differences.”
The Speaker of the House of Commons, as well as members of the Liberal caucus, also shared their condolences.
Federally, Brown has held a number of roles in parliamentary groups and all-party caucuses throughout the current session of Parliament.
Among those, he was a member of the parliamentary groups on relations between Canada and the United States, Canada and China, Canada and Europe, Canada and Israel and Canada and NATO.
He had also been a member of the all-party caucuses dealing with automotive, border, energy, health, outdoors, rural and tourism issues, among several others.
Brown had also served as the whip for the Conservative Party from shortly after the 2015 election until July 2017.
During his time in that role, Brown made headlines in 2016 after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau elbowed several members of opposition parties in an attempt to grab Brown and get him into his seat in the House of Commons ahead of a vote.
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