Ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper led a chorus of former Conservative MPs in mourning the March 26 death of aide Shaun Webb.
“Shaun has been a longtime friend and trusted advisor whose immeasurable knowledge, dedication, quick wit and gentle manner will be long and sorely missed,” Harper wrote on a website in memory of Webb. “Shaun was blessed with intellectual curiosity, an encyclopedic memory, and an impressive capacity for bringing facts and original insight to bear on complicated issues.”
Webb, 34, suffered a leg injury on vacation in Panama and died from post-surgery complications at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
Webb was an assistant in North Vancouver Conservative MP Andrew Saxton’s office in 2008 and worked five years in the Prime Minister’s Office as Harper’s regional affairs advisor for B.C. and the three territories. He joined Harper and Associates last year and most recently was a communications and media buying consultant on Future Prosperity B.C.’s anti-NDP attack advertising campaign. He told theBreaker in January that the campaign was not related to his Harper and Associates duties.
“Quite insightful, he was a quick study on the issues and surrounding environment, very political. Somebody that was helpful to us, for sure,” John Winter, Future Prosperity B.C. spokesperson, told theBreaker.
Webb came to Canada in 1999 from South Africa, graduated from Cariboo Hill secondary in Burnaby and earned a mathematics bachelor’s degree from Simon Fraser University, where he was vice-president of the Young BC Liberals club. He is survived by his mother, Felicity.
The website includes tributes from Stockwell Day, John Reynolds, Ryan Leef, John Weston and John Duncan. A memorial is scheduled for April 7 at the Vancouver Club.
Winter said he did not know Webb was involved with Harper’s firm when he hired him for the now-completed “Say Anything John” campaign. Winter said the March 29 wind-up was unrelated to Webb’s death. He declined to say how much was raised or how much was spent for the South Park-style animated ad critical of B.C. NDP leader John Horgan.
“We met our goals,” Winter said. “I’m not going to tell you how much it was. We were quite pleased with the diversity and the amount of the money from the various sources.”
When the ad hoc group launched in January, Winter told reporters the campaign was planning to spend around $2 million by the end of March. Third-party political ad campaigns that end before the April 11 election writ are not required to register with Elections BC or report their financials.
Winter’s silent partners were ex-B.C. Maritime Employers Association CEO Frank Pasacreta and ex-Independent Contractors and Business Association of B.C. chair Jim Laurence.
Coincidentally, an Insights West survey released March 28 found 55% of respondents believed Premier Christy Clark would say anything to get elected, versus only 18% for Horgan.
British Columbia votes May 9.