One of Belanger’s final acts as an MP was championing a bill to make the national anthem more gender neutral, changing the lyrics from “in all our sons command” to “in all of us command.”
The bill was passed by the House of Commons in June, though it still must still be approved by the Senate.
Belanger died earlier this month after a battle with amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was diagnosed just after the Liberals won the 2015 federal election.
The veteran MP continued to go to work at his office on Parliament Hill as his condition deteriorated rapidly. He died on Aug. 15 at the age of 61.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and former governor general Michaelle Jean were among the dignitaries on hand along with current and former colleagues, friends and family members to say a final goodbye to the veteran MP at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Ottawa.
Trudeau said generations of Canadians to come won’t necessarily know Belanger’s name, but they’ll be honouring his commitment to inclusion and equality every time they sing O Canada.
Trudeau wrote a touching tribute last week to Belanger, praising the MP’s passion and dedication to his country.
“We will all miss you,” Trudeau wrote. “Your passion, your strength, your perspective, your rigour, your dedication and your wisdom.”
“Your legacy of service and hard work will continue to inspire us and all who follow in this place but we will nonetheless miss you, and your friendship, most dearly.”
WATCH: Liberal MP Mauril Belanger dead at 61 following battle with ALS
The long-time MP from Ottawa-Vanier was first elected to the House of Commons in 1995 and has won every election since.
In January, he became the first MP to use an electronic voice in the House of Commons, re-introducing his private member’s bill to make the lyrics of O Canada more gender neutral. He was brought to Parliament Hill by ambulance to see his bill pass its final hurdle in June.
*With files from the Canadian Press