TORONTO– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday he’ll travel to London with former prime ministers for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and that Canadians will continue to benefit from the stability the monarchy provides.
Trudeau and Canada’s opposition leaders paid tribute to the late queen in a special session of Parliament on Thursday. She visited the country 22 times as monarch.
Trudeau said she embraced her role as queen of Canada and said “her sudden absence has struck us all palpably and profoundly.”
“Her Majesty was everywhere. Her face on our 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 said.
“Canadians feel like they’ve lost a family member – a family member who grew up alongside us.”
He recalled first meeting her as a little boy when his late father, Pierre Trudeau, was prime minister. And he noted she was with Canadians for important moments, like in 1967, when she cut Canada’s centennial cake on Parliament Hill and when she proclaimed and signed Canada’s Constitution Act of 1982.
Trudeau said in Canada’s constitutional monarchy, the crown’s function is to be a bedrock for the constitution, and to transcend daily political debates.
“We all know our new sovereign, his majesty King Charles III, will uphold these very values that we speak today and continue her legacy. Long live the king,” Trudeau said.
King Charles III was officially proclaimed Canada’s monarch on Saturday in a ceremony in Ottawa attended by Trudeau and Governor General Mary Simon, who is the representative of the British monarch as head of state, a mostly ceremonial and symbolic position.
Though Canadians are somewhat indifferent to the monarchy, many had great affection for Elizabeth, whose silhouette marks their coins.
Overall, the antiroyal movement in Canada is minuscule, meaning that Charles will almost certainly remain the country’s king. Abolishing the monarchy would mean changing the constitution. That’s an inherently risky undertaking, given how delicately it is engineered to unite a nation of 37 million that embraces English-speakers, French-speakers, Indigenous peoples and a constant flow of new immigrants.
Trudeau has said Canadians are preoccupied with big issues like inflation and climate change and not constitutional issues. He noted in his speech Thursday that the world is a tough place too and Canada has enviable 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,” Trudeau said.
“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.”
Trudeau’s office hasn’t said which former prime ministers will attend the funeral but it is expected to include Stephen Harper, Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien as well as Simon and former governor generals.