OTTAWA - Members of Parliament stood in solemn reflection in the House of Commons Monday in tribute to the late Brian Mulroney, the former prime minister of Canada who died last month.

His wife Mila and their children Nicholas, Mark, Ben and Caroline looked on from the gallery above.

The House of Commons ground to a halt when news reached the chamber on Feb. 29, just hours after his death.

Mulroney, who led the country as a Progressive Conservative prime minister from 1984 until 1993, died in Florida at the age of 84. Tributes have poured in ever since from politicians past and present.

When parliamentarians returned to the Commons on Monday after a two-week break, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the first to speak about Mulroney's legacy in what is expected to be a weeklong remembrance of the former prime minister, culminating in a state funeral Saturday.

“This will not be the last week that Canadians will quote him, remember his example, be inspired by his service. It is not just his booming baritone that will forever echo in this chamber, but his values and his leadership,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau said Mulroney was “one of the lions of Canadian politics,” and reminisced about spending time with him last year in Nova Scotia on a tour of Mulroney Hall.

As they walked through a replica of the prime minister's Centre Block office, they reflected on the “wisdom that he and my dad both shared, that leadership, fundamentally, is about getting the big things right, no matter what your political stripe or your style,” Trudeau said.

Mulroney also knew how to win, Trudeau said with a smile, “and he certainly enjoyed it.”

From the gallery, Mulroney's family members smiled, too, as Trudeau explained that Mulroney was mainly motivated by service.

As prime minister, Mulroney championed free trade and ushered in the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in 1988, the precursor to the North American Free Trade Agreement that took effect in 1994. Many Canadians also remember him for bringing in the GST.

But it was his “down-to-earth spirit” that Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said exemplified Mulroney's approach to the job.

Mulroney family

He told the story about meeting a mechanic in Ottawa whose father was a miner with the Iron Ore Company of Canada, when Mulroney served as its president.

Decades later, when the mechanic's father died, Mulroney called the family, Poilievre said.

“What is so incredible about that phone call is that in interim period, Brian Mulroney fought two leadership races, won two majority governments, shook hands and spent time with presidents, kings, queens and other prime ministers, negotiated free-trade deals, watched the end of the Cold War, sent our troops into the Persian Gulf,” he said.

“And with all that passing through his mind, he still remembered the miner from the Iron Ore Company.

“That is kindness. That is humility.”

Mulroney family

Members of all parties have already expressed their admiration and, in many cases, gratitude to Mulroney for his years of service, advice and mentorship.

Mulroney's casket is expected to arrive in Ottawa on Tuesday, where he will lie in state for two days so the public can pay their respects.

The former prime minister will also lie in repose at Montreal's St. Patrick's Basilica on Thursday and Friday.

Dignitaries, including the Governor General and Trudeau, are set to offer condolences to the Mulroney family Tuesday morning.

A state funeral will be held Saturday morning at Notre-Dame Basilica, with eulogies from Caroline Mulroney, Jean Charest and Wayne Gretzky.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2024.