The prime minister and opposition leaders paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in the House of Commons today, celebrating her dedication to service and recognizing the sense of loss many Canadians feel after her death.
“Last week, Canada lost the only sovereign that most of us have ever known,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House. “It’s important to take these moments, here in Parliament and across the country, to recognize the service and the leadership that she offered.”
“When someone lives until 96, this should not have come as a surprise. And yet, this sudden absence has struck us all palpably and profoundly.
“Her majesty was everywhere — on coins, her portrait hanging in Parliament and post offices, her televised Christmas address, a cozy ritual in homes from coast to coast to coast.”
Trudeau’s tribute to the Queen is one of many taking place today in the House of Commons, which was recalled to allow MPs to deliver personal statements on the life and legacy of the late monarch.
The prime minister said he enjoyed the candid conversations he had with the Queen and that Canadians can be grateful for the advice she gave him on a range of issues.
Canada enjoyed an era of prosperity and peace under Elizabeth’s reign, Trudeau said, describing her as the bedrock upon which Canada’s democracy and Constitution rest.
Watch: Trudeau remembers Queen Elizabeth:
“Today the world is in a tough place,” Trudeau said. “We’re all reeling from an unprecedented global pandemic. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s brutal and unjustifiable war is threatening global stability. Around the globe, democratic institutions are being challenged.
“But Canadians can rightly be proud of living in one of the strongest democracies in the world. Our institutions are healthy, our debates are robust … It is this very strength and stability, represented by the Crown and embodied by the Queen, that Canadians have always benefited from.”
The day of tributes in the House began at 10 am with a moment of silence to mark the recent murders in rural Saskatchewan. Speeches in the House began with the prime minister, followed by Official Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre.
“For roughly 70 years, she was our head of state but also a servant of the Canadian people,” Poilievre told the House. “She was a model for all those who work for the public service to remind us that, for all the pomp and circumstance, the real work of governing is not glamorous.
“It often requires putting aside egos, keeping our heads down and keeping on with the job. Her humility reminded us that government is not about us, it is about those we serve. We are indeed servants and not masters.”
Watch: Poilievre remembers Queen Elizabeth:
Poilievre said that while the Queen had a special place in many Canadians’ hearts, Canada also had a special place in hers because she visited this country more than any other.
“When the Queen spoke at the patriation of our Constitution in 1982 … she said, ‘The genius of Canadian federalism lies in our consistent ability to overcome differences through reason and compromise,'” he said.
“That ability is reflected in the willingness of ordinary people of French-speaking and English-speaking Canada and of all regions to respect each other’s rights and to create the conditions together under which all may prosper in freedom.”
Poilievre joined other leaders in congratulating King Charles and said that he was looking forward to seeing him carry on his mother’s legacy.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh joined the other leaders in offering his condolences to the Queen’s family.
“She made the promise that she would spend her whole life, whether it be long or short, fulfilling her duty and for more than 70 years she kept this promise,” Singh said.
“Two days before she died, she met with the incoming British prime minister and invited her to form a government, ensuring that she fulfilled this final constitutional duty.”
Singh said the Queen led a remarkable life and remained a source of stability in a rapidly changing world.
Watch: Singh remembers Queen Elizabeth:
“Throughout her life, Queen Elizabeth used her platform to offer encouragement in difficult times,” Singh said. “Most recently during the pandemic, she reminded us that we would get through the challenges and the pain of not being able to see loved ones.
“She asked us to greet the tough times with optimism and hope by pulling together and doing what needed to be done.”
Blanchet: Crown’s relationship with Quebec ‘thorny and cruel’
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet struck a different tone — offering condolences to “anyone who is grieving” the Queen’s passing without expressing any personal feelings of loss.
“It’s not something we do as nationalists and sovereignists without great reflection among ourselves. Everyone has their own sensibilities and this means that we have to pay particular attention to history,” he said.
“The history between the Crown and the Quebec nation is both thorny and cruel.”
Saying that “respect must come first,” Blanchet offered the Bloc’s “deepest condolences to the people of England.” He then said that Bloc MPs would rise after the leaders had spoken and would not participate in any further tributes to the Queen in the House.
Speaking for the Greens, MP Michael Morrice expressed his condolences and said the Queen was a true example of a life in service to others.
“Today we honor and mourn a remarkable woman who loved this country and its citizens… who set a standard that is unparalleled,” he said.
After the party leaders finished their tributes, there was a moment of silence before individual MPs in the House started offering their own tributes to the Queen.
Every MP who wants to speak is being given 10 minutes to do so. Government House Leader Mark Holland said at the opening of today’s sitting that the House was prepared to sit until Friday to complete all the tributes.
Parliament initially was scheduled to return on Sept. 19. That date was pushed to Sept. 20 to avoid clashing with the Queen’s funeral.
Following today’s events in the House of Commons, Trudeau will travel to London to attend the Queen’s funeral with his spouse Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and a number of other dignitaries:
- Gov. Gen. Mary Simon
- Viceregal consort of Canada Whit Fraser
- Former governor general Michaëlle Jean
- Former governor general David Johnston
- Former prime minister Kim Campbell
- Former prime minister Jean Chrétien
- Former prime minister Paul Martin
- Former prime minister Stephen Harper
- Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald
- President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Natan Obed
- President of the Métis National Council Cassidy Caron
- Former high commissioner for Canada in the UK Janice Charette
- High Commissioner for Canada in the UK Ralph Goodale
Also accompanying Trudeau to the UK will be Order of Canada recipients Mark Tewksbury, Gregory Charles and Sandra Oh, as well as Cross of Valor recipient Leslie Arthur Palmer.
Ottawa to commemorate Queen Sept. 19
Four members of the RCMP’s musical ride will appear in the funeral procession in London. They’ll be riding horses lent to them from the stables at Buckingham Palace.
Back in Ottawa, parliamentarians and dignitaries not attending the funeral in London will participate in a commemorative ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral.
That ceremony begins at 11:00 am but will not start until after the ceremony in London is over.
Events will kick off in Ottawa a little before that, at 10:10 am with a parade featuring CAF members from the air force, army, navy and special forces. They’ll depart Cartier Square Drill Hall, behind City Hall, accompanied by the Canadian Armed Forces Central Band.
The parade will march past the war memorial and in front of the Parliament buildings, where 96 salvos will be fired into the air, one for each year of the Queen’s life.
The service at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa will feature hymns and readings.
The full list of speakers for the service has not been released yet. Albert Dumont, the Algonquin spiritual adviser affiliated with Christ Church Cathedral, is set to address the 600 guests in attendance.
The government said that the ceremony will include musical interludes by Canadian artists, a tribute video and an address from an as-yet-unnamed prominent Canadian.
The government said the full list of those attending the service will be released to the media the morning of Sept. 19.