The House of Commons pauses to remember Nelson Mandela

'He was a metaphor for hope'

Just after six o’clock this evening, the House of Commons paused its normal business to acknowledge the passing of Nelson Mandela.

After a point of order from Peter Van Loan to allow for statements by ministers, the Prime Minister spoke first.

Mr. Speaker, when I look back on the sweep of political history over my lifetime, one of the developments that I think may be the development the most of all has been over the past half century or so, the struggle and the successes against the phenomenon of racial discrimination. In this regard there has been no more powerful symbol in the world than that of Nelson Mandela.

Il n’y a aucun exemple plus puissant de cette lutte et ses succès contre la discrimination raciale que celui de Nelson Mandela. Avec la disparition de M. Mandela, le monde perd un grand leader moral et un grand homme d’État.

The world has lost one of its great moral leaders and statesmen. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years by the former government of South Africa for his part in the struggle that would ultimately end the system of apartheid. Despite his long years of captivity, Mr. Mandela left prison with his mind closed to any settling of scores and his heart open to those he had fought against.

Il aspirait à la vérité et à la réconciliation ainsi qu’à la compréhension entre tous les peuples.

He demonstrated that the only path forward for his nation was to reject the appeal of bitterness. His magnanimity spared all South Africans incalculable suffering.

L’héritage durable que Nelson Mandela laisse à son pays et au reste du monde est l’exemple qu’il a donné avec sa longue marche vers la liberté.

He showed how people can shape better tomorrows and do so in their own time. Nelson Mandela’s long march to freedom, his grace and humility throughout that walk, and the bridge to the future he built for his people as he proceeded along it ensures that his remarkable example will inform others for generations.

On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, Laureen and I, and all of my colleagues, wish to extend our condolences to Mr. Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, his entire family and all citizens of South Africa. Canada, a nation Mr. Mandela honoured by becoming our first-ever honorary citizen, mourns with you and with the entire world today.

The House stood to applaud and Thomas Mulcair crossed the aisle to shake Mr. Harper’s hand. Mr. Mulcair then delivered remarks.

Monsieur le Président, c’est une journée de très grande tristesse pour le monde entier. Le courage, les valeurs et la détermination d’un homme si inspirant seront une lumière pour des années à venir. Lorsqu’il est devenu citoyen canadien, M. Mandela avait des choses à nous rappeler sur nous-mêmes.

I am going to allow myself to quote Nelson Mandela when he singled out Canada and our values. “Your respect for diversity within your own society and your tolerant and civilized manner of dealing with the challenges of difference and diversity had always been our inspiration.”

That is what Mr. Mandela said during his first address. As we know, he came here several times.

Apprenons donc de cet homme politique plus grand que nature. Effectivement, il y a des choses qui doivent passer avant tout: le respect des autres et le fait que nous sommes tous égaux. Ces batailles-là valent la peine d’être menées.

For 50 years Mr. Mandela fought apartheid and racism. He guided South Africa toward racial equality and democracy at the risk of his own life and at the price of his own freedom. He is rightly considered the father of modern Africa.

Je me permets de rappeler les propos qu’il a tenus, il y a une vingtaine d’années, lors de son inauguration en tant que président de la République Sud-Africaine: “En faisant scintiller notre lumière, nous offrons aux autres la possibilité d’en faire autant.”

As Nelson Mandela reminded us during his inauguration nearly 20 years ago: “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

À sa famille, à ses proches, à l’ensemble du peuple sud-africain et à tous ceux et celles qui luttent pour l’égalité et la liberté, j’offre nos plus sincères condoléances.

The House stood to applaud and Mr. Harper crossed the aisle to shake Mr. Mulcair’s hand. Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, a member of Mr. Mandela’s international legal team, then spoke. His remarks are posted above.

Finally, Elizabeth May stood and read “words written in 1888 by William Ernest Henley,” which, she said, “Mandela recited over the 27 years he remained on Robben Island, imprisoned”

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.