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Former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney eulogized, honored at state funeral

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was remembered as someone who loved his country and valued personal connections in a political world fraught with divisions during his official state funeral in Montreal Saturday. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

1 of 4 | Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was remembered as someone who loved his country and valued personal connections in a political world fraught with divisions during his official state funeral in Montreal Saturday. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

March 23 (UPI) — Brian Mulroney was remembered at his state funeral in Canada Saturday as someone who loved his country and valued personal connections in a political world fraught with divisions.

The former Canadian prime minister was laid to rest in his home province of Quebec, surrounded by hundreds of dignitaries among the well-wishers.

Mulroney “loved this country with all his heart,” current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during one of several eulogies at the funeral in Montreal. “And he didn’t just love Canada in the abstract sense. He loved Canadians. He loved hearing their stories. He loved connecting with people. He was incredibly generous with everyone.”

“I’m so proud to be a Canadian today,” legendary hockey player Wayne Gretzky told CBC News amid a dusting of snow outside Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica. “Mulroney was one of the greatest prime ministers we’ve ever had.”

The 84-year-old died on Feb. 29 after a fall at his home in Palm Beach, Fla., but had been battling prostate cancer since a 2022 diagnosis.

Former Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper and current party leader Pierre Poilievre were among those in attendance.

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, represented the British Royal Family, while Vancouver actor Ryan Reynolds and former newspaper magnate Conrad Black were among the other dignitaries to attend the two-hour program, which featured a 19-gun salute to the former Canadian leader.

Following the public funeral, Mulroney will be laid to rest during a private burial ceremony.

Mulroney’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Theodora Lapham, sang the French-language song “Mais qu’est-ce que j’ai?” or “But what can I do?” in English, which she called “my papa’s favorite song.”

Mulroney’s daughter Caroline, a provincial politician in Ontario and that province’s Minister of Francophone affairs, told the crowd that “no one gave a speech like my dad. To dad, everyone mattered.”

Former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Brian Tobin sat opposite Mulroney in Canada’s House of Commons but said opposing political views did not dampen a rare personal touch.

“On an individual basis, on a personal basis, nobody had greater charm, greater interest, and greater investment in personal relationships than Brian Mulroney,” Tobin told CBC News.

Mulroney, the 18th Prime Minister of Canada, served from 1984 until 1993 and is credited for implementing economic reforms north of the border.

He signed the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement into effect on Jan. 1, 1989.

Mulroney played a key role in negotiating the original North American Free Trade Agreement with former Mexican President Carlos Salinas, and U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (L) and U.S. President Ronald Reagan chat outside the White House in Washington on October 3, 1984. UPI File Photo | License Photo

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