A final kind word for Deepak Obhrai
National Post, 30 August 2019
The longest continuously serving Conservative MP used to chastise me for not writing nice things about him. I am doing that now.
As memorial tributes are being offered, I would like to write something nice about Deepak Obhrai. Mainly because for the past six years, whenever I would see him, Deepak — no one, in my hearing, ever called him anything else — would always chastise me for not writing nice things about him.
Lots of people are saying nice things about Deepak now. The longtime Calgary MP died earlier this month at age 69, a few months short of what would certainly have been his eighth consecutive winning election campaign.
He was the longest continuously serving Conservative MP, “as he frequently reminded me,” former prime minister Stephen Harper said at Deepak’s memorial service on Monday.
Deepak was also the longest-serving parliamentary secretary to a minister of foreign affairs, from 2006 to 2015. It’s not generally thought to be the kind of job that someone holds for that long, but Deepak loved the travel, loved to be greeted with honours abroad, and loved to tell the stories of the famous people he met when he returned home. It was a good fit, the representational part of foreign policy shorn of the responsibility.
Deepak always had a story to tell, and usually he was at the centre of it. He kept everyone laughing, but I fear that, on occasion, he forgot to distinguish between people laughing at him and people laughing with him. When he ran for Conservative party leader in 2017, there were very few with him, as he came dead last in a crowded field of 14 candidates, several of which were virtual unknowns.
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