Several former and current Alberta politicians took to Twitter Sunday to share their memories and condolences over the death of former Edmonton Mill Creek MLA Gene Zwozdesky.
UCP MLA Ric McIver, who served alongside ‘Zwoz’ as he was affectionately called, said he would miss Zwozdesky’s good humour.
“He was always helpful and charming. Just a joy to be around,” said McIver. “He made every person that came into the legislative assembly feel welcome regardless of their background or culture. He took time for everybody.”
Zwozdesky died Sunday at the age of 70 after a battle with cancer.
“He’d been battling cancer for a while,” said McIver.
He was elected to the Alberta Legislature in 1993 as a Liberal but later crossed the floor to join the PC’s filling several roles in cabinet.
“He was well-respected, did a fantastic job. It was a real honour to work with him,” said McIver. “He made it fun for other people to come to work every day. He’s leaving a big hole in this province and a big hole in a lot of people’s hearts.”
He also served as Speaker of the Legislature between 2012 and 2015.
“The only real criticism I can give you of Gene Zwozdesky is that he was too nice of a guy,” McIver said fondly. “When you’re the Speaker of the House and you have 86 people losing their mind, and the Speaker has to keep control of traffic, being too nice of a guy doesn’t always get the job done on those really grumpy days.”
McIver said a lot of different premiers had confidence in the abilities of Gene Zwozdesky and for good reason.
“Gene was very good at a lot of things. I understand at some point in his youth he was a Ukrainian dancer, he was a great piano player. He was successful in managing several ministries along the way.”
UCP Leader Jason Kenney described Zwozdesky as a “Legend.”
Heather Klimchuk served alongside Zwozdesky and said he celebrated “the very best in all of us.”
Zwozdesky displayed his Ukrainian heritage with pride and was a fierce proponent of the arts. He appeared on Global News dozens of times over the years.
WATCH BELOW: On the 25th anniversary of the Ukraine declaration of independence from the USSR, Alberta’s Ukrainian community celebrates with dance and song in Churchill Square. Gene Zwozdesky speaks more about the event.
Current Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel described Zwozdesky as a great friend.
“He was a wonderful man who served diligently and honourably for all of Alberta,” Mandel tweeted. “He has left us too soon and he will be sorely missed by all Albertans.
“Sending our deepest condolences to his family.”
WATCH BELOW: Alberta’s new MLAs learn the ins and outs from outgoing Speaker Gene Zwozdesky.
There’s no word on funeral arrangements yet.