Jim Hillyer (politician)

James Nation Hillyer (8 July 1974 – 23 March 2016) was a federal Canadian politician who served as a Member of Parliament for the electoral district of Lethbridge and later Medicine Hat–Cardston–Warner. Hillyer was first elected to the House of Commons for the federal Conservative Party of Canada in the 2011 election and then re-elected in 2015.[1] He served in this role until his death in March 2016.[2]

Jim Hillyer
Member of Parliament
for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner
In office
19 October 2015 – 23 March 2016
Preceded byLaVar Payne
Succeeded byGlen Motz
Member of Parliament
for Lethbridge
In office
2 May 2011 – 19 October 2015
Preceded byRick Casson
Succeeded byRachael Harder
Personal details
James Nation Hillyer

(1974-07-08)8 July 1974
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Died23 March 2016(2016-03-23) (aged 41)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Political partyConservative
SpouseLivi Hillyer

Early life and educationEdit

Hillyer was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, and was raised in nearby Stirling, Alberta. Hillyer grew up playing soccer and hockey, he earned his Chief Scout Award, and was also valedictorian when he graduated from Stirling High School in 1992.[3] Hillyer married Livi, his high school sweetheart, in the Cardston Alberta Temple in 1995, after serving two years as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in Quebec.

Hillyer earned a BA in Philosophy from the University of Lethbridge, where he was in the University of Lethbridge Singers. Hillyer was also a violinist in the Lethbridge Symphony.[3] Upon graduating he pursued his master's degree at the University of Regina after moving there to work for the DeVry Institute of Technology. While in Regina, Hillyer won a nomination to run in the Saskatchewan provincial election under the Saskatchewan Party banner.[4]

Hillyer received his master's degree in political economy from George Wythe University in Cedar City, Utah. In 2006, he published a book, Coyotes and Indians,[5] and an accompanying documentary of the same title, examining the past 100-year history of the Blood Indian Reserve in Alberta as his thesis. He was a PhD candidate, pursuing advanced studies in constitutional law when his health once again became an issue.

He was an entrepreneur and business consultant.

Political careerEdit

Hillyer decided to make his political comeback and ran successfully for the Conservative Party of Canada in the 2011 federal election. In spite of controversy, Hillyer followed the campaign strategy from Conservative Party headquarters which stipulated new candidates should not attend community forums. This was a divisive topic in the riding and a local newspaper would go on to dub Hillyer as "The Man Who Wasn't There".[6] However, Hillyer won his seat handedly with 69% of the votes.[7]

During his first term, the electoral boundaries in southern Alberta were changed. Raymond, where Hillyer lived, was moved from the Lethbridge riding into the newly expanded Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner riding. In 2014, upon learning that the current Member of Parliament for the area was stepping down, Hillyer sought the nomination in the new riding where he resided. Hillyer won the nomination by a nearly 4-to-1 margin over his opponent[1] and was re-elected in the 2015 federal election.

While in office, Hillyer introduced a motion asking the House of Commons to amend the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include property rights.[8][9] Ultimately this motion could not continue after the supporting motion of the Wildrose Party was defeated by the Progressive Conservative Party in the Alberta Legislature.[10] Hillyer had developed a reputation on the hill as a staunch social Conservative and was known for his vote record on these issues.[11]

He supported former MP Stephen Woodworth's motion which called on Parliament to establish a committee to reexamine the definition of when human life begins.

Hillyer worked alongside former MP Joy Smith to advocate for adoption of the Nordic Model instead of legalizing prostitution[12] and to create legislation to prevent human trafficking. Hillyer worked tirelessly to end what he called the "normalization of prostitution."[13]

Hillyer was also an advocate for First Nations peoples across Canada and for his strong support the Blackfoot Canadian Cultural Society honored Hillyer with the name "Api Stamik", or White Buffalo BullCalf.[14]

In December 2011, Hillyer stated in the House of Commons that he intended no offence when he made gunshot gestures with his hands as he voted to scrap the Canadian Firearms Registry.[15][16] In promising not to make hand gestures in the Commons in the future, Hillyer suggested that "if people were offended they should blame whoever posted the six-week-old video [on YouTube] on the anniversary" of the École Polytechnique massacre.[15]

In March 2012, Hillyer was caught on camera "rolling his eyes dramatically" in the House of Commons during a speech by NDP MP Pat Martin.[17]

Personal lifeEdit

Hillyer and his wife, Livi, had four children.[18]

Health and deathEdit

Hillyer was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at age 28 and underwent treatment.[4] In late 2008, he was diagnosed with tethered cord syndrome and tumors inside his spinal cord. After undergoing neurosurgery on his spinal cord to rectify this, he continued to pursue his political aspirations and career interests despite chronic complications from the surgery.

In 2013, Hillyer broke his leg in a ski accident, which had long-term health consequences; he had surgery for a bone infection in February 2016, shortly before his death. After recovering from surgery, he returned to Ottawa to vote in the 2016 Canadian Federal budget, on 22 March 2016.[19]

Early the following morning, Hillyer was found dead in his Ottawa office at the age of 41. An autopsy confirmed cardiomyopathy, sudden heart failure that may have indirectly been attributed to the chemotherapy he underwent a decade before.[20]

Electoral recordEdit

2015 Canadian federal election: Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Jim Hillyer 34,849 68.8 +0.10
Liberal Glen Allan 9,085 17.9 +6.75
New Democratic Erin Weir 4,897 9.7 -5.24
Green Brent Smith 1,319 2.6 -1.84
Independent John Clayton Turner 500 1.0 +0.23
Total valid votes/Expense limit 50,650 100.0     $236,204.82
Total rejected ballots 118
Turnout 50,768 66.11
Eligible voters 76,789
Conservative hold Swing +2.67
Source: Elections Canada[21][22]
2011 Canadian federal election: Lethbridge
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Jim Hillyer 27,173 56.51 -10.45 $72,625
New Democratic Mark Sandilands 13,097 27.24 +13.02 $36,703
Liberal Michael Cormican 4,030 8.38 -0.92 $23,067
Green Cailin Bartlett 2,095 4.36 -2.86 $0
Christian Heritage Geoffrey Capp 1,716 3.57 +1.26 $14,727
Total valid votes/Expense limit 48,086 100.00
Total rejected ballots 307 0.63 +0.34
Turnout 48,393 54.20 +1
Eligible voters 89,280


  1. ^ a b "Lethbridge MP Hillyer to seek re-election but in Medicine Hat - Sunny South News". 21 October 2014. Archived from the original on 21 October 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  2. ^ "HILLYER James › Gone But Not Forgotten". gonebutnotforgotten.ca. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Obituary for Jim Hillyer". Obituary for Jim Hillyer. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Leaders pay tribute to Alberta Conservative MP Jim Hillyer after his death | CFJC Today". 26 March 2016. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  5. ^ Coyotes and Indians. ASIN 0973809264.
  6. ^ "'Man Who Wasn't There' surfaces on Hill as new MP". CTVNews. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  7. ^ Jim Hillyer welcomed as new MP in 2011, retrieved 31 December 2020
  8. ^ Gazette, Gateway (18 November 2014). "Wildrose motion would be first step in entrenching Alberta landowner rights in Charter of Rights and Freedoms". Gateway Gazette. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Jim Hillyer, "Property Rights" on Oct. 3rd, 2014 | openparliament.ca". openparliament.ca. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  10. ^ "MP HILLYER TO JOIN WILDROSE IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO STRENGTHEN PROPERTY RIGHTS - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  11. ^ Coalition, Campaign Life. "Candidate, Jim Hillyer - Medicine Hat - Cardston - Warner - Voting Records - Campaign Life Coalition". www.campaignlifecoalition.com. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  12. ^ "Statement on Prostitution - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  13. ^ "Jim Hillyer, "Prostitution" on Nov. 6th, 2013 | openparliament.ca". openparliament.ca. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  14. ^ "What the leaders said about MP Jim Hillyer". ottawacitizen. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  15. ^ a b "MP Hillyer shot down over gun vote antics". CBC News. Canadian Press. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  16. ^ Rabson, Mia (7 December 2011). "Hillyer sticks to his 'guns'". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  17. ^ Bolen, Michael (2 March 2012). "Jim Hillyer: Pat Martin's Speech On Robocalls And Second World War Veteran Elicits Eye Roll From Tory MP". Huffington Post Canada. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  18. ^ McGregor, Janyce (23 March 2016). "Jim Hillyer had wanted job of MP all his life, Rona Ambrose says in tribute". CBC.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ "MP Jim Hillyer died of heart attack, says coroner's report". Global News. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  20. ^ "Conservative MP Jim Hillyer dies in office". Global News. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  21. ^ "October 19, 2015 Election Results — Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner (Validated results)". Elections Canada. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  22. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates Archived 15 August 2015 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit