Veteran Liberal MP for riding of Ottawa-Vanier for 21 years through eight elections, Mauril Bélanger, was laid to rest on Saturday amid the voice of a gender-neutral version of O Canada sung at the ceremony. Hundreds gathered to remember the popular politician known for his dedication to the people including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and his mother, Margaret Trudeau.
Mr. Bélanger fought with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, for 10-months prior to his decease earlier this month. Despite his poor health in the last days, Mr. Bélanger twice showed up in Parliament to ensure the passing of his private member’s bill in June to change the lyrics of O Canada to “in all of us command” instead of “in all thy sons command.” Although the bill initially received opposition from Conservatives, it is likely to become law later this year.
Mr. Bélanger’s was known for his defence of minority language rights, his development work in Africa and his role in saving Hôpital Montfort. His funeral was attended by several cabinet ministers including Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna. Speaking at the ceremony, Trudeau mentioned that “there are many more Canadians – generations to come – who may not know Mauril Bélanger by name, but who will celebrate his commitment to equality and inclusion every time they stand – in their classrooms, or at a hockey game – and sing our national anthem.”
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