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Former MP Alcock remembered as "true champion for Manitobans"

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WINNIPEG -- Former Liberal MP Reg Alcock died this morning after suffering an apparent heart attack at James Richardson International Airport.

He was 63.

University of Manitoba president David Barnard said Alcock died in Winnipeg’s airport this morning while on his way to do some teaching in The Pas.

"He was well respected in the classroom," Barnard said. "We will miss his contributions."

Alcock was first elected as MP for Winnipeg South in 1993 and held that position until 2006. Alcock was president of the federal Treasury Board in the Liberal cabinet. Provincially, he was the Liberal MLA for Osborne from 1988 to 1993 when he stepped down to seek federal office.

Alcock held a master's degree in Public Administration (1992) from Harvard University and served as director of Manitoba Child and Family Services (1983-85). Alcock was a long-standing member of the Harvard Policy Group, which studies the effects of information technology on the public sector.

Alcock worked for the University of Manitoba at the time of his death. He was the executive in residence at the Asper School of Business in 2010, and served as associate dean from 2008 to 2009.

Alcock’s "dedication to Manitoba and his commitment to public service at the provincial and national levels was exemplary," Premier Greg Selinger said in a statement.

"As a federal cabinet minister, he might best be remembered for his role in advancing public service renewal and reform. His national contributions while serving as president of the Treasury Board and as minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board were substantial and widely recognized and applauded."

"I am greatly saddened by the passing of Reg Alcock," David Barnard, University of Manitoba president and vice-chancellor, said in a prepared statement. "In addition to his outstanding work for our university, he dedicated much of his life to public service for this city, province and country...

"While our university community has suffered a significant loss, a much deeper loss is felt by his family," said Barnard. "On behalf of the University of Manitoba, I offer his partner Karen Taraska-Alcock and their children Sarah, Matthew and Christina, my sincere condolences."

Former Liberal MP Anita Neville said she learned from Alcock how to get things done.

"He was very smart, always busy. His blackberry and computer were always going," said Neville. "He made things happen."

Manitoba Liberal leader Jon Gerrard said he has known Alcock since the 1980s.

"We worked very close together when we were both Manitoba MPs in Parliament," Gerrard said in a statement.

"Reg will be remembered as a leader and true champion for Manitobans. Throughout my political career, Reg could always be counted on for help and sound advice and was a force to be reckoned with."

Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux called Alcock "a dear friend of mine.

"Canada lost a champion today and is (a) better place because of Reg’s tremendous contributions."

Both Gerrard and Lamoureux said Alcock’s crowning achievement was his role in the building of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Alcock’s political colleagues also shared their condolences on Twitter.

"Very sad to hear the news about my friend Reg Alcock, died of a heart attack today in Winnipeg. Great guy and good friend to many," wrote interim federal Liberal leader and Toronto Centre MP Bob Rae.

"It was with great sadness that I learned about the passing of Reg Alcock today," tweeted Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge, who claimed the riding after defeating Alcock in 2006. "Deepest sympathies to his family. A sad day for Manitoba."

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Updated on Friday, October 14, 2011 at 11:48 AM CDT: Adds slideshow.

12:27 PM: adds condolences from colleagues

2:50 PM: adds statement from Premier

3:20 PM: Adds quote

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