'A cut above the rest': Canadian politicians pay tribute to Mandela
Published Thursday, December 5, 2013 6:08PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 5, 2013 9:52PM EST
Canadian politicians from across the political spectrum have weighed in on the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela. One of the world’s most beloved leaders, Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that the world had lost “one of its great moral leaders and statesmen.”
“Despite his long years of captivity, Mr. Mandela left prison with a heart closed to calls for a settling of scores. Instead, he was filled by a longing for truth and reconciliation, and for an understanding between all peoples,” Harper said.
“Nelson Mandela’s enduring legacy for his country, and the world, is the example he set through his own ‘long walk to freedom.’ With grace and humility, he modelled how peoples can transform their own times and in doing so, their own lives.”
Harper sent his condolences to Mandela’s family on behalf of all Canadians.
“Canada, a nation that granted Mr. Mandela honorary citizenship in 2001, mourns with you and the entire world today.”
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair spoke briefly to reporters on Parliament Hill Thursday, saying Mandela will be “sadly missed.”
“It is a rare individual whose reputation for wisdom transcends time. Nelson Mandela, who died today at the age of 95, is one of them. New Democrats join others around the world in mourning the loss of this exceptional man,” Mulcair said.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s Twitter account said that Nelson Mandela “will forever occupy a place in the hearts, minds and imaginations of the entire world.”
Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said there was no politician quite like Mandela in the 20th century, saying he was a “cut above the rest.”
Mulroney, speaking to CTV’s Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme, said he remembers receiving a phone call from Mandela shortly after the South African icon was released from prison.
“And he said ‘Canada has been consistent throughout all of these years in helping me and helping South Africa. And I just wanted to extend my appreciation. I would be honoured to come to Canada and make my first speech before a democratically-elected parliament. Is that okay with you?’” Mulroney recalled.
“And I said: ‘Is it ever. We would be much more than honoured to have you.’”
Mandela addressed the Canadian Parliament on June 19, 1990.
Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Mandela was one of “the great personalities” he met in his life.
“He was a very simple person, not complicated, soft talking and a good sense of humour. And an extremely pleasant chap to talk with,” Chretien said Thursday evening.
Chretien said he spoke to Mandela when he was faced with the decision about whether or not Canada should go to war with Iraq in the early 2000s, a war Mandela was opposed to.
“When we made the decision not to go, he was very complimentary to Canada and to me,” Chretien said.
Chretien added that Mandela’s “mark on public life will be forever.”
A statement from Governor General David Johnston said that “when history speaks of the very best examples of humanity, we will speak of Nelson Mandela.”
“Throughout his life, he overcame many hardships to become a powerful global figure for peace and equality; the legacy he leaves cannot be understated,” Johnston said.
“All across our nation, we hold him in the highest regard, evidenced by his investment into the Order of Canada as an Honorary Companion and an honorary citizen of our country.”
- Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said in a statement that there were few people who have done more to inspire the world than Nelson Mandela. “As a student of history and a huge believer in the power of the human spirit, I know his life will continue to serve as a beacon for change, throughout South Africa and around the world."
- Alberta Premier Alison Redford said Mandela “was a towering icon, a giant of a man and an enormously inspiring individual who courageously spent his life fighting racism, oppression, and injustice.
- A statement from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s office called Mandela “a true leader and advocate for freedom and democracy