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2013-12-08 at 16:31

Paying respects

By Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press
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OTTAWA - A who's who of Canadian politics is boarding Stephen Harper's plane today to join the prime minister when he flies to South Africa to pay his final respects to Nelson Mandela.

Harper will attend a public memorial for Mandela on Tuesday in Johannesburg, as well as his lying in state in Pretoria on Wednesday.

He's being accompanied by three of his predecessors, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Kim Campbell, all of whom were invited by Harper to fly on the prime ministerial plane to attend the service. Joe Clark, meantime, is already in Africa and will join the Canadian delegation when it arrives in South Africa.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair will also board the plane. There was no immediate word whether Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is joining the Canadian delegation.

Assembly of First Nations national chief Shawn Atleo will be on board, as will former Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean. Premiers Darrell Pasloski of the Yukon, Nova Scotia's Stephen McNeil and Alison Redford of Alberta are also travelling to South Africa with the prime minister.

Redford, a lawyer specializing in constitutional and legal reform law, worked for Mandela in the early 1990s in efforts to rebuild South Africa's legal system and lay the groundwork for the first all-race elections that led to him becoming president.

Mulroney spearheaded Canada's efforts to free Mandela from prison and pressure South Africa to end apartheid, while Chretien was prime minister when Mandela was granted honourary Canadian citizenship in 2001.

Mandela died on Thursday at the age of 95.

His body will lie in state from Wednesday through Friday.

A state funeral for the former South African president is planned for next Sunday.

The Canadian Press
© The Canadian Press, 2014

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