Canada plans state funeral for late Prime Minister Brian Mulroney

TORONTO (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that the country will hold a state funeral for former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, though no date has been announced yet.

Mulroney died Thursday. He was 84.

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Mulroney’s daughter, Caroline, said in a statement Thursday evening that her father died peacefully surrounded by his family. Mulroney died in a Florida hospital after a fall at his home in Palm Beach, Florida on Thursday.

Mulroney’s family said last summer he was improving daily after a heart procedure that followed treatment for prostate cancer in early 2023.

The flag on the Peace Tower on Parliament in Ottawa is flying at half-mast in his honor. Members of Parliament agreed Friday morning to suspend Parliament for the day, and offer tributes to Mulroney on March 18.

A framed portrait of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney leans against the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill as Canadians mourn his death at the age of 84, in Ottawa, Canada on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)

Mulroney forged close ties with the United States through a sweeping free trade agreement. Leader of the Progressive Conservative party from 1983 to 1993, Mulroney served almost a decade as prime minister after he was first elected in 1984.

Mulroney had enduring friendships with former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and eulogized both at their funerals.

Reagan and Mulroney became friends as two national leaders during the last decade of the Cold War. Mulroney’s nine years in power overlapped with Bush’s four.

Former President George W. Bush expressed sadness at Mulroney’s death and credited him with helping end the Cold War.

In a statement referencing the Canadian leader’s close relationship with his father, Bush quoted from Mulroney’s words at the elder Bush’s funeral: “But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be.”

“May his ship sail on in fair winds and following seas,” said the statement from Bush and his wife, Laura.

It was Mulroney’s amiable relationship with his southern counterparts that helped develop a free-trade treaty, a hotly contested pact at the time. The trade deal led to a permanent realignment of the Canadian economy and huge increases in north-south trade.

Fred Ryan, chairman of the board of the Reagan Foundation and Institute, said in a statement that Mulroney was one of Canada’s most consequential prime ministers.

“The world has lost a true champion of freedom and democracy,” Ryan said.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Mulroney “holds a special place in South Africa’s history.”

“During his term, he spoke out against apartheid, advocated the economic isolation of the regime and took a stand when many in the international community were wavering,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.

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