April 24th, 2024

State funeral today for former prime minister Brian Mulroney in Montreal

By The Canadian Press on March 23, 2024.

MONTREAL – Former prime minister Brian Mulroney will be honoured today at a state funeral in Montreal in the presence of a diverse cross-section of Canadian society, from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to hockey great Wayne Gretzky.

Funeral attendees will include people who knew and admired Mulroney in politics, business and in his personal life, his son Ben Mulroney said.

The ceremony takes place at 11 a.m. at Notre-Dame Basilica, following a funeral procession that will include an RCMP mounted escort and pallbearers, a Canadian Armed Forces honour guard and the Royal Canadian Air Force band.

Trudeau, Gretzky, former Quebec premier Jean Charest and Mulroney’s daughter Caroline, who is an Ontario cabinet minister, are listed to deliver eulogies at the religious ceremony led by Montreal Archbishop Christian Lépine.

The funeral follows four days of public tributes in Montreal and Ottawa during which political dignitaries and members of the public filed by Mulroney’s casket and paid their respects to his wife and four children.

Mulroney’s sons say they’re hoping the funeral won’t be only a sad occasion, but rather a chance to celebrate their father’s life with a “party” that includes music, laughter and funny stories.

“He loved a good party, so that’s a promise from the family,” his son Nicolas Mulroney told The Canadian Press on Thursday. “It’ll be a funeral on paper, but it will be a party to many.”

Ben Mulroney, for his part, said the mood will be lightened by the presence of his father’s 16 grandchildren, some of whom might be running around.

“I hope there’s some funny moments because I know that there are going to be some overwhelming moments for me,” he said. “And I find that that humour about him allows me to turn off the tears.”

Mulroney, who died Feb. 29 at age 84, was prime minister for nine years between 1984 and 1993 and led the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

His legacy includes the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed between Canada, the United States and Mexico during his time as prime minister, his participation in the fight against South African apartheid, the 1991 acid rain accord and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax.

In addition to Trudeau and Gretzky – the latter of whom is a family friend – the guests at Saturday’s ceremony will include political dignitaries, representatives of organizations Mulroney was connected with and many family and friends.

There will be a 19-gun salute in Montreal’s Old Port following the ceremony. The family will hold a private burial in Montreal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2024.

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