Former federal and provincial Liberal cabinet minister Reg Alcock, an early advocate of using technology to make government more accessible, died Friday at the age of 63.
First elected as an MP in 1993 after serving in the Manitoba Legislature, Mr. Alcock quickly made his mark as an advocate of parliamentary reform. As a backbencher, he helped shape the direction of the House of Commons government operations and estimates committee as its chair, steering the fledgling body as it gave MPs a greater role over government spending.
He was named to cabinet in 2003 as Treasury Board president, minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board and lead minister for Manitoba. He held those positions until his defeat in the Jan. 2006 federal election.
In cabinet he continued his focus on government spending, chairing a cabinet committee on expenditure review that looked to trim spending even as Ottawa’s bottom line had returned to surplus.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae was "shocked and deeply saddened" to learn of his former colleague's sudden passing.
"Reg’s booming voice, extraordinary energy and great enthusiasm for everything he did was his great hallmark," Mr. Rae said in a statement."He befriended and mentored me in the ways of public policy and I shall miss his irrepressibly candid advice."
He added: "Manitoba and Canada have lost a man who was dedicated to the public good."
Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge, who defeated Mr. Alcock in Winnipeg South, said it was “a sad day for Manitoba.”
“It was with great sadness that I learned about the passing of Reg Alcock today,” the MP wrote on Twitter. “Deepest sympathies to his family.”
Manitoba Liberal Leader John Gerrard and Winnipeg MP Kevin Lamoureux issued a joint statement, saying “the Liberal family’s heart is heavy today.”
“Canada lost a champion today and is a better place because of Reg’s tremendous contributions,” Mr. Lamoureux said.
Mr. Lamoureux and Mr. Gerrard wrote that Mr. Alcock will best be remembered for his role in building the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, working with first nations on the Kelowna Accord and for his work in the Manitoba Legislature.
Mr. Alcock, who earned a Master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University, was an executive in residence at the University of Manitoba.
He is survived by his partner Karen Taraska-Alcock and their children Sarah, Matthew and Christina.