TORONTO — Queen Elizabeth served as a constant presence through turbulent times and will be remembered for the comfort she brought people, as well as her exemplary public service, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday.
The province’s legislature paid tribute to the late monarch, who died last Thursday, with a series of speeches.
Ford said her death touches him personally.
“Queen Elizabeth’s impact was far reaching,” he said in a solemn speech. “She supported over 600 charities throughout her reign. She spent countless hours working to improve the lives of people everywhere. I count myself as one of the people who will miss her dearly.”
The queen was a reminder of the “bigger bonds that unite us, that connect us and bring us together, in good times and bad,” Ford said.
“After she ascended to the throne at the age of 25, she would continue to serve for another 70 years and over those seven decades, which spanned 15 British prime ministers, starting with Winston Churchill, the world never stopped changing, but Queen Elizabeth always remained,” he said.
“Through global upheaval, domestic troubles, and heartbreaking personal tragedy, Queen Elizabeth II continued to be the constant presence that gave people comfort.”
Interim NDP Leader Peter Tabuns noted that the queen’s portrait has hung in the legislature during the tenure of 11 premiers.
“Today we’re here not only to pay tribute to a monarch, but to grieve a woman,” Tabuns said.
“She was a person and a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. A family is grieving the queen, not only as their sovereign, but as a beloved family member. They’ve lost not just their matriarch, but also a wise elder and a connection to their ancestors. So to those who call Her Royal Highness mum, granny or auntie, we send our deepest condolences.”
Sol Mamakwa, who represents the majority Indigenous riding of Kiiwetinoong for the NDP, nodded along to that part of Tabuns’ speech. On his way into the chamber, Mamakwa talked about a deeply problematic history between the Crown and Indigenous people, but said he was there to help mourn a person’s death.
“It’s our way of life, to support people that are in mourning…so I’m here for that,” said Mamakwa, a member of Kingfisher Lake First Nation.
But on his way in to the chamber, Mamakwa noted an orange shirt pin he was wearing on his suit jacket, in remembrance of all of the children who never came home from residential schools.
“It’s a very complex relationship that we have with the Crown,” he said. “I’m talking about colonialism. I’m talking about oppression. We live it every day, as First Nations. It has become a way of life for people and that’s not right.”
Following the speeches, the legislature adjourned until Oct. 25, the day after the municipal elections.