MP Arnold Chan dies

Lib­eral MP Chan, 50, re­mem­bered as good friend, com­mit­ted pub­lic ser­vant

The Daily Observer - - ONTARIO NEWS - JOHN WARD — With files from Joanna Smith

OT­TAWA — Lib­eral back­bencher Arnold Chan, whose elo­quent, emo­tional trib­ute to democ­racy ear­lier this sum­mer moved many in the House of Com­mons to tears, was re­mem­bered Thurs­day as a good friend, a won­der­ful hus­band and a ded­i­cated pub­lic ser­vant.

The 50-year-old Chan died of can­cer three years af­ter he was first di­ag­nosed with the dis­ease.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau called him “a thought­ful, kind and, above all, tire­less ad­vo­cate for Cana­di­ans.”

“He be­lieved deeply in our democ­racy and be­came one of its most faith­ful and elo­quent guardians,” Trudeau said in a state­ment, not­ing that most of Chan’s brief time as an MP was shad­owed by his ill­ness.

“Even at his sick­est, he found the strength to stand up in the House of Com­mons and rep­re­sent his con­stituents, who he cared about so deeply.”

Chan learned he had na­sopha­ryn­geal car­ci­noma not long af­ter he won the Toronto-area seat of Scar­bor­ough-Agin­court in a 2014 by­elec­tion. He em­barked on a dif­fi­cult treat­ment regime of ra­di­a­tion and chemo­ther­apy, which seemed to have won him a reprieve.

He was re-elected in 2015, but re­vealed in March 2016 that the can­cer had re­turned.

“It sucks the en­ergy out of you,” he said at the time about the dif­fi­cul­ties of chemo­ther­apy. “It lit­er­ally sucks the en­ergy out of you and some­times it hits you at times you had no idea it is com­ing.”

Chan was the fa­ther of three sons, Nathaniel, Ethan and Theodore. His wife, Jean Yip, ex­pressed her sad­ness in a state­ment re­leased on Twit­ter.

“He was a lov­ing fa­ther, won­der­ful hus­band and ded­i­cated pub­lic ser­vant,” she said, adding that while he “coura­geously fought” can­cer, he “al­ways con­tin­ued to work hard for his con­stituents.”

Chan’s health was clearly fail­ing when he made an emo­tional speech in June to his fel­low MPs in the of­ten-ac­ri­mo­nious Com­mons, urg­ing them to em­brace de­cency and ci­vil­ity in de­bate and to aban­don what he called “canned talk­ing points.”

He asked them to “bring the ex­pe­ri­ence of our con­stituents here and im­pose it upon the ques­tion of the day, and ask our­selves how we get bet­ter leg­is­la­tion and how we make bet­ter laws.”

He urged MPs to pay at­ten­tion to oth­ers.

“That is the chal­lenge that is go­ing on around the world right now,” he said. “No one is lis­ten­ing. Ev­ery­one is just talk­ing at once. We have to lis­ten to each other.”

Chan also ex­pressed his love of coun­try: “I would ask Cana­di­ans to give heart to their democ­racy, to trea­sure it and re­vere it.”

Fel­low Lib­eral MP Judy Sgro broke the news of Chan’s death at a com­mit­tee meet­ing.

“He was a mem­ber that we all very much re­spected and ap­pre­ci­ated and it is with great sad­ness that I have to give you that an­nounce­ment,” said Sgro.

“So, take a deep breath and I’m sure all of us will send our sym­pa­thies out to his wife and fam­ily.”

In Toronto, pro­vin­cial Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Brad Duguid, who rep­re­sents the rid­ing of Scar­bor­ough Cen­tre, asked for a mo­ment of si­lence in the leg­is­la­ture for Chan, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant to then-premier Dal­ton McGuinty.

“It’s a gut-wrench­ing day for us here at Queen’s Park and I think across the coun­try,” Duguid said.

“He was a breath of fresh air in this busi­ness — al­ways pos­i­tive, al­ways op­ti­mistic and al­ways full of en­ergy. He’s go­ing to be missed in­cred­i­bly by all of us on all sides of the House. You could feel the emo­tion to­day in the leg­is­la­ture from all sides. He’s one of those peo­ple that are a real gem and a real as­set to pol­i­tics in gen­eral across the coun­try.”

On­tario In­ter­na­tional Trade Min­is­ter Michael Chan, who had Arnold Chan as his first chief of staff 10 years ago, called it a very dif­fi­cult day.

“Three weeks ago he called me. (He said) ‘Michael, I want to talk to you. Come on over.’ I went to his house, sat there, he bowed his head. He told me, ‘Michael, I’m dy­ing. I’m go­ing to die .... ’ He was a coura­geous man.

“A man com­mit­ted to his fam­ily, three kids, still grow­ing, fan­tas­tic wife, a great, great fam­ily man and 50 years old. It’s not fair.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory said Chan was pas­sion­ate about pub­lic ser­vice.

“Not­with­stand­ing his ill­ness, Arnold car­ried on rep­re­sent­ing his res­i­dents in the hum­ble and de­cent way that he al­ways had and I know we are all in­spired by his call for Cana­di­ans to ‘give heart to their democ­racy.’

Chan grew up in Toronto. He stud­ied at both the Univer­sity of Toronto and the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia and earned a law de­gree and masters de­grees in both po­lit­i­cal science and ur­ban plan­ning.

Af­ter the Lib­er­als took power in Ot­tawa, Chan was named deputy House leader.

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Fed­eral Lib­eral Leader Justin Trudeau speaks to sup­port­ers as he vis­its Lib­eral can­di­date for Scar­bor­ough-Agin­court Arnold Chan, right, at his cam­paign of­fice in Toronto in 2014. Chan has died of can­cer.

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