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Alberta Conservative MP Jim Hillyer dead at age 41

Last Updated Mar 23, 2016 at 11:54 am EST

Alberta Conservative MP Jim Hillyer is shown leaving the centre block as newly-elected members of Parliament take part in an orientation session on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, May 19, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA _ Alberta Conservative MP Jim Hillyer has died at the age of 41.

Hillyer was first elected to the House of Commons in 2011 in the Lethbridge riding and was re-elected last fall in the new riding of Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose confirmed the news in a statement today.

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of our friend and colleague, Jim Hillyer,” Ambrose said.

“Jim was a valued and hardworking member of the Conservative team, and a passionate advocate for those he represented. More than that, he was a dedicated husband and father, and a man of strong faith and conviction. I pray that his and his family’s faith will help them through this very difficult time.”

Initial reports suggest Hillyer died of a heart attack in his office, just off Parliament Hill.

Ottawa police Const. Marc Soucy said officers responded to a medical call on Sparks Street, a nearby pedestrian mall that’s home to a number of MP offices.

Soucy said police would not be releasing any details, nor confirming the name of the individual involved. He did say it was not a criminal matter.

Hillyer was a cancer survivor and had a bone marrow transplant in 2003.

In his 2011 campaign, Hillyer was dubbed “The Man Who Wasn’t There” by local media after he avoided interviews and refused to participate in public forums.

Nonetheless, he won easily.

Conservative MPs attending their weekly caucus meeting did not stop to talk, but there were indications that party leaders would pay tribute in the Commons to Hillyer later Wednesday before adjourning the House for the day.