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LETTER: Mulroney's funeral a 'tribute' to his service to Canada

'What struck me was the importance Mulroney gave to relationships and how he made those relationships work,' says former MP
2018-06-07 Caroline Mulroney Brian Mulroney
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is shown in East Gwillimbury at daughter Caroline Mulroney's election night party in 2018. | Jenni Dunning/VillageMedia file photo

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via the website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is from former Simcoe North MP and former PC Cabinet Minister Doug Lewis.

Kim and I attended the state funeral for former prime minister Brian Mulroney in Montreal on Saturday and I wanted to share some of my reflections.

We travelled to Montreal by Via Rail from Toronto and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Train travel takes longer than by air, but it has added benefits. First of all, it is very comfortable. Secondly, it gives you a chance to reflect upon what a big country Canada is as you watch the countryside go by. We stayed at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel and walked from the train to the hotel without going outside.

The lying-in-repose and funeral service were the epitome of a celebration of life. I have written before about the accomplishments of Mulroney, so I won’t repeat them. Those who spoke covered his life story with eloquence and humour.

His daughter, Caroline, was perhaps the most eloquent in paying tribute to her dad. As anyone who has had to deliver a eulogy to a parent knows, it is difficult to deliver and she did it very well. Wayne Gretzky was very funny as he described his relationship with Mulroney.

The entire ceremony was a tribute to Mulroney's service to Canada. It was very well done.

What struck me was the importance Mulroney gave to relationships and how he made those relationships work.

Family was the most important relationship to Mulroney. When I was in Parliament, he spoke of it often. It was a bedrock strength to him. He and Mila raised a strong and successful family in the difficult atmosphere of Ottawa while he was prime minister. They have all done well.

He worked at his relationship with our caucus. As I was close to him, I saw his efforts first-hand. As a result, he commanded support. At the same time, I knew that he reached out to political opponents when they were in personal difficulty and offered assistance.

He cultivated his relationship with international politicians. Singing When Irish Eyes are Smiling with former United States president Ronald Reagan was an example. It helped when it came to negotiating the free trade agreement. The acid rain treaty, which benefits our area, also came about because of that relationship. After it was signed, he gave the pen to Stan Darling, the member of Parliament for Parry Sound-Muskoka.

He battled with Margaret Thatcher over the release of Nelson Mandela, and his relationships with other Commonwealth nations carried the day. Consequently, Canada was the first nation Mandela visited after he was freed.

Canada has benefited enormously from the service of Brian Mulroney. His success as an electrician’s son from the remote area of Baie-Comeau, Que., sends a signal that success is achievable for anyone who is willing to work hard to accomplish it.

Doug Lewis