This story was No. 10 in our 2016 list because it’s not often that planes crash in Canada. It’s also rare for high profile politicians to die in such tragic circumstances. While it had resonance locally for being both shocking and tragic, the impact of the four lives lost was most acutely felt in Alberta, where the men were from.
Former Alberta premier Jim Prentice was among four people killed in a small-plane crash in October.
Prentice, 60, was aboard a twin-engine Cessna Citation that disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff from Kelowna, en route to the Springbank Airport, just outside Calgary.
Bill Yearwood with the Transportation Safety Board spoke to reporters shortly after the plane’s wreckage was found in Lake Country, and said the crash was “unsurvivable.”
“The aircraft is destroyed. All persons on board lost their lives,” Yearwood said.
Former Kelowna Lake Country MP Ron Cannan, who worked closely with Prentice from 2006 to 2010, was one of many in the immediate aftermath who offered thoughts on what Canada lost, as they shared a lot of downtime commuting back and forth to Ottawa together.
“He always had time for people and was very well respected from all political parties and staff and media,” said Cannan, adding that he related to Prentice as a family man above all else, and the two often discussed their daughters in those moments.
“He was a gentleman,” Cannan said.
One instance of Prentice’s character that stood out to Cannan was when the then industry minister was visiting Kelowna for business, and they’d taken time out to play a game of golf.
One of Cannan’s constituents had an idea he wanted to pitch, and Cannan invited him along.
“He rode around on the course with (Prentice) for awhile,” said Cannan, noting that the conversation they had that day eventually led to a local business being successfully launched.
He said Prentice also formed a good relationship with the Westbank First Nation, when he was cabinet as minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
The three other casualties that day were were Jim Kruk, Dr. Ken Gellatly and Sheldon Reid.
Kruk, a 62-year-old retired RCMP officer from Airdrie, Alta., had been an “avid aviator” since 1976.
Gellatly was the father-in-law of Prentice’s daughter Cassia, was a well-known Calgary optometrist and a part-time faculty member at the Vision Care Institute.
Reid, 60 was a retired Calgary businessman.
An investigation into the crash is ongoing.