By Jennifer Graham – THE CANADIAN PRESS REGINA A former Saskatchewan member of Parliament who resigned last year as he struggled with mental health issues is dead.
His family says Dave Batters took his own life in his home in Regina on Monday. He was 39.
“Last fall, Dave courageously made public his battle with depression and anxiety when he chose not to run for re-election as the member of Parliament for Palliser,” read a statement issued Tuesday.
“He entered treatment and his family and friends hoped he would overcome his illness. Tragically, this was not to be.”
Regina police received a call Monday that someone at a residence in the city was threatening to harm himself. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich said officers went to the house and negotiators made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to contact a man inside. They later found a man dead in the house. Popowich would not comment on the cause of death.
Batters’s battle with mental health issues became public last July when he announced he was taking medical leave for an undisclosed health issue. In a statement at that time, he said he was being treated in a Regina hospital and was looking forward to a full recovery.
In September, Batters said he would not seek re-election in the riding of Palliser, which encompasses Regina and Moose Jaw. He cited anxiety, depression and a dependency on prescription drugs.
Batters first won the riding in 2004 as a member of the Conservative party.
Fellow Tory Andrew Scheer said Batters “got involved in politics for all the right reasons.”
A family friend had been murdered by her estranged husband, who at the time was out on bail after being charged with assaulting the woman. Batters put forward a private member’s bill in the House of Commons that would have made it tougher for people charged with serious personal injury offences to get bail.
Scheer said Batters was outgoing and passionate about his work. “It was really, really evident to me early on that he had a tremendous amount of energy,” said Scheer, who represents Regina-Qu’Appelle and roomed with Batters when the two were in Ottawa.
“He had a very strong work ethic, so I think it’s a loss that someone like that couldn’t keep that energy focused on positive things. Maybe being so high energy, maybe it contributed to a sense of … burning out or getting anxious about certain things. I don’t know,” he said
“But it’s a real loss on a professional level and a political level to have someone like that, who is really motivated by altruistic purposes, not be part of the political process.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was saddened to hear the news.
“Those of us who knew and worked with Dave will remember him as a friend and colleague who worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents in Palliser,” Harper said in a statement.
“Dave ultimately lost his struggle with severe depression, but we should use his loss as a reminder that mental health illnesses affect Canadians in every walk of life. Too often Canadians, such as Dave, suffer in silence out of fear of being stigmatized for their illness.”
Batters is survived by his wife Denise, who is chief of staff for the Saskatchewan Party’s Justice Minister Don Morgan.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.