Mul­roney re­mem­bers Bush as ‘a great friend of Canada,’ will be speak­ing at his fu­neral

The Peterborough Examiner - - Canada & World -

Cana­dian politi­cians past and present of­fered their con­do­lences Satur­day fol­low­ing the death of for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, with for­mer prime min­is­ter Brian Mul­roney call­ing it “an enor­mous loss.”

Bush, who served in the Oval Of­fice from 1989 to 1993, died Fri­day night at his home in Houston at the age of 94 — just eight months af­ter the death of his wife of more than 70 years, Bar­bara Bush.

Mul­roney, whose nine years in power over­lapped with Bush’s four, said the last time he saw his friend was in late Septem­ber, when he was in Ken­neb­unkport, Maine, to ac­cept the Ge­orge Bush Award for Ex­cel­lence in Pub­lic Ser­vice.

Bush wasn’t well enough to at­tend the event, so Mul­roney paid the for­mer pres­i­dent a visit at home be­fore the cer­e­mony.

Bush asked to hear Mul­roney’s ac­cep­tance speech, so the for­mer prime min­is­ter read it to him.

The two friends also spent time lis­ten­ing to mu­sic and talk­ing.

“It was just a de­light­ful ex­pe­ri­ence, and my last visit with him af­ter all th­ese years,” Mul­roney said Satur­day in an in­ter­view.

“I think we both knew that that was prob­a­bly the last visit we were go­ing to have.”

Mul­roney said that among the two lead­ers’ joint ac­com­plish­ments, two stand out: the sign­ing of the Canada-U.S. Air Qual­ity Agree­ment, known as the acid rain treaty, in 1991; and the ne­go­ti­a­tion of the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, signed in 1994 af­ter both had left of­fice.

Bush “was a great friend of Canada, and he made very im­por­tant things pos­si­ble for Cana­dian his­tory,” Mul­roney said.

Mul­roney said Bush asked him three years ago if he would speak at his fu­neral, and he said he’d be “hon­oured” to do it.

“I spent a lit­tle time on it. I’m not fin­ished yet, but I think I know what I want to say,” Mul­roney said.

The White House an­nounced Satur­day that a state fu­neral for the for­mer pres­i­dent would be held at Wash­ing­ton’s Na­tional Cathe­dral.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump also closed gov­ern­ment of­fices Wed­nes­day and des­ig­nated it a na­tional day of mourn­ing, which tra­di­tion­ally oc­curs on the same day as the Wash­ing­ton com­po­nent of a late pres­i­dent’s state fu­neral.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau also of­fered his thoughts on Bush’s legacy, say­ing the for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent’s com­mit­ment to his coun­try was clear.

“His ex­em­plary spirit of ser­vice and com­mit­ment to coun­try would mark each of his roles — in­clud­ing in Con­gress, as am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, as head of the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency, and in the White House,” Trudeau said in a writ­ten state­ment.

Cana­dian con­ser­va­tives also of­fered up their sym­pa­thies, with fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer also com­mend­ing Bush as a “friend to Canada.”

“He was truly a gen­tle­man of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and one of the world’s most prin­ci­pled de­fend­ers of free­dom and democ­racy,” Scheer said in a writ­ten state­ment.

For­mer prime min­is­ter Stephen Harper tweeted that Bush was “a con­ser­va­tive leader and deeply de­voted fam­ily man” who leaves be­hind an in­cred­i­ble legacy.

Some of Canada’s con­ser­va­tive pre­miers also tweeted their con­do­lences.

“We Cana­di­ans will re­mem­ber his friend­ship and gen­er­ous spirit,” On­tario Premier Doug Ford tweeted. “May he rest in peace.”


For­mer prime min­is­ter Brian Mul­roney, left, talks with for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush at a con­fer­ence on NAFTA in Wash­ing­ton in De­cem­ber 2002. The two last vis­ited in Septem­ber.

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