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TORONTO -- Former Alberta Premier and long-time-federal minister Jim Prentice and three others died in a plane crash in southern British Columbia.
His family confirmed Friday he died. He was 60.
Prentice was among former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's most trusted cabinet ministers. He served as the industry minister, environment minister and minister of Indian and northern affairs. He left federal politics for provincial politics and became premier of Alberta in 2014. His party was defeated a year later in elections, ending the Conservative party's four-decade hold on power in the province.
Harper said in a statement that Prentice was a family man, friend, leader and a proud Canadian. He once called Prentice the chief operating officer of Canada's government.
"He was highly respected and well liked across all party lines because he brought an intelligent, honest and straight forward approach to everything he did," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Current Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Prentice deeply loved Alberta and said she benefited from his advice.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney called Prentice a true gentleman who was an important contributor to the political life of Canada.
Prentice, a moderate conservative who voted for same sex marriage before many of his Conservative colleagues, was widely respected by many including aboriginal Canadians who say he genuinely worked for them.
"In today's world of dramatically increased polarization, he stood out as a decent, civilized public servant," Toronto Mayor John Tory said.
A team of investigators from the board was on its way to the scene of the crash near Kelowna, British Columbia.
Transportation Safety Board spokesman Bill Yearwood said a Cessna Citation aircraft with four people on board went down at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday after taking off from Kelowna on a flight to Springbank, outside Calgary. Yearwood did not have information about what might have caused the crash.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said police were alerted when the private business-style jet lost radar contact and officers are secured the scene.
Prentice is survived by his wife, three daughters and two grandchildren. The family noted in a statement that another member of their family was also on the plane, Dr. Ken Gellatly, the father-law of his daughter.
"To lose two family members at once is unbelievably painful," the family said before asking for privacy. "In the time Jim has been with us, he was a friend to many. Jim was a loving and compassionate man who dedicated his life to his family and public service. He will be so greatly missed."