Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Last goodbye to Brian Mulroney

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The state funeral of Brian Mulroney took place Saturday at the Notre-Dame basilica in Montreal.

  • Philippe Robitaille-Grou (View profile)Philippe Robitaille-Grou

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The great Canadian political families and Quebecois, as well as many athletes, artists and other personalities, were gathered Saturday in Montreal for the state funeral of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

In the Notre-Dame basilica, where the ceremony took place, the image was strong.

Four Canadian prime ministers of recent decades, including the liberal Jean Chrétien and Conservative Stephen Harper sitting side by side. The premiers of nine of Canada's provinces and three territories. International dignitaries. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky sitting next to actor Ryan Reynolds.

Everyone responded to celebrate the memory of a man who marked them each in his own way.

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Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada

Brian Mulroney, 1939-2024

Consult the complete file

Brian Mulroney, 1939-2024

Consult the complete file


After four days of exposure in ardent chapel, first in Ottawa, then in Montreal, where nearly 4,000 people in total came to pay tribute to the native of Baie-Comeau, the ceremony on Saturday was reserved for a guest list of some 1,300.

To welcome them, Montreal put on its white coat, a sign of a winter that has not yet completely given way to spring.

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François Legault, Prime Minister of Quebec

The weather is perfect for Mr. Mulroney, said Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, before entering the church. He always loved winter.

Yves Fortier, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations and long-time friend of the former prime minister, was of the same opinion. I looked outside and said to myself, "It's snowing!" […] The choreography of his funeral could not have taken shape better than what we find now, he rejoiced.

A choreography which was keen to attend in particular the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the leader of the opposition Pierre Poilievre and the Canadian ambassador to the UN Bob Rae, who respectively underlined on their arrival the leadership, the human warmth and courage of the man to whom they came to pay homage.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Also present: former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom John Major, Governor General Mary Simon, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson and former Quebec Prime Ministers Philippe Couillard, Lucien Bouchard, Jean Charest, Pauline Marois and Pierre Marc Johnson, among others.

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Pauline Marois, former premier of Quebec

I I spent the whole week listening to all kinds of reports on the life of Brian Mulroney, reading books, Mgr Christian Lépine, who celebrated the ceremony, told Radio-Canada. His kindness, his generosity, his attention to each person, it permeates my text.

You can also access highlights from our live coverage of Brian Mulroney's state funeral.

Around 10:15 a.m., as the last guests entered the church, a funeral procession carried the coffin to the rhythm of a fanfare and 84 bell tolls, for the ex-politician who died at 84.

The procession left from Saint Patrick's Basilica, the place where Brian Mulroney was exhibited in recent days. A nod to his Irish roots of which he said he was proud.

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The Mulroney family stands behind the coffin, carried by RCMP officers.

In a Notre-Dame basilica crossed by a few thin rays of light which made their way through the stained glass windows, Caroline, Brian Mulroney's daughter, delivered the first eulogy funeral in the name of his mother Mila and his brothers Ben, Mark and Nicolas, who were all there.

No one gave speeches like my father, she emphasized from the outset. With his baritone voice, his sense of humor and his impeccable sense of timing, he always held his audience in the palm of his hand.

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The coffin is carried by RCMP officers during the funeral of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

In a testimony filled with emotion and humor, Caroline Mulroney recounted the last moments of her father's life, as well as a few anecdotes, including her favorite story.

At a formal dinner, he insisted on having a second piece of butter for his bread, despite the fact that the waiter had indicated that he should limit himself to one. Mr. [John] Diefenbaker said thunderously: "Sorry, but do you know who I am? I'm the Prime Minister of Canada and I'd like another piece of butter." My father smiled and answered for the waiter: "Do you know who I am? I'm the person who distributes the butter."

This story, in Caroline Mulroney's opinion, shows that in her father's eyes everyone was important, both the waiter and the Prime Minister.

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Caroline Mulroney, daughter of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, speaks at his funeral in Montreal.

Former hockey star Wayne Gretzky also shared some humorous anecdotes, recounting the time when Brian Mulroney reminded him of the importance of the 1993 playoffs, when the Montreal Canadiens won their last Stanley Cup against the Los Angeles Kings, it was a great victory.

I told him: J I was on the other team! Not such a good memory for me.

A quote from former hockey player Wayne Gretzky

Former Quebec Prime Minister Jean Charest, who was Minister of the Environment in the Mulroney government, hailed the greenest prime minister in Canadian history, a title which was attributed to Mr. Mulroney in 2006 by the environmental magazine Corporate Knights.

Even before being elected Prime Minister, when he was leader of the official opposition in Ottawa, he made the issue of acid rain the priority of our relations with the United States, indicated Jean Charest. In 1991, he concluded an agreement on this subject with George Bush Sr. It is today one of the most successful environmental treaties in the world.

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Mila Mulroney (right) and her daughter Caroline attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal.

The close relations between Brian Mulroney and former American presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. were also highlighted in a speech written by James Baker, former American Secretary of State under George Bush Sr.

Mr. Mulroney himself became, in 2004 with Margaret Thatcher, the first foreign dignitary to deliver a eulogy for a president of the United States, at the funeral of Ronald Reagan.

Justin Trudeau and businessman Pierre-Karl Péladeau were the two other people chosen to deliver eulogies in tribute to the little guy from Baie-Comeau.

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Personalities from the political, artistic and sporting worlds gathered for the ceremony.

Particularly emotional moment: the performance of Brian Mulroney's granddaughter , Elizabeth Theodora Lapham, who had to take a moment to wipe away her tears and find her voice before singing But what do I have?, by Henri Betti and #x27;Édith Piaf, [her] grandfather’s favorite song.

Tenor Marc Hervieux subsequently joined her for the interpretation of When Irish eyes are smiling, by Chauncey Olcott, George Graff JR and Ernest Ball.

< p class="StyledImageCaptionLegend-sc-57496c44-2 sbxsP">Brian Mulroney's granddaughter, Elizabeth Theodora Lapham, broke down in tears as she sang “What's the matter with me?” by Henri Betti and Édith Piaf during the state funeral of the former prime minister.

Music occupied a precious place in the life of Brian Mulroney, who has even already recorded an album, intended for his loved ones.

The ceremony reflected this musical love. It was punctuated by performances by Marie-Josée Lord and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra with its conductor Rafael Payare, in particular.

Everything was concludes with the sound of 18 bells, for the 18th Prime Minister of Canada.

The funeral will be with the family, in private.

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