Canadian Politicians on Nelson Mandela

Many believe that a person is still alive until their name is no longer repeated. Nelson Mandela – the world’s most famous political prisoner – will live forever as his impact on South Africa and the world was monumental. Today, Mandela would have been 99 years old. Followers around the world remember the man of wisdom, tolerance and strength. He continues to inspire peace and perseverance to those facing adversity. We share what Canadian politicians have said about the anti-apartheid leader over the years.

In 1993, before Mandela was elected president of South Africa, Canada’s foreign affairs minister Perrin Beatty said, “I was struck by his thoughtfulness and serenity, given the cruel and systematic persecution he and all South African blacks had suffered … His focus was not on settling scores with the people who had oppressed the majority of South Africans for so many years but with building the country for the future.”

Years after meeting Nelson Mandela just after his release from prison at a welcome reception on the lawn of Toronto’s Queen’s Park, which drew 50,000 people, former Ontario Premier David Peterson said, “I was just impressed with his gentleness and with his charity and his lack of mean-spiritedness, his lack of sense of revenge. It was his personal qualities that were transcendent, at least for me.”

After Mandela’s speech to 45,000 children in Toronto’s Skydome in 1998, Jean Chretien said, “When you will be my age, you will tell your grandchildren ‘I was there when Nelson Mandela came to Canada and Toronto.”

“You’ve inspired generations and will inspire generations to come,” said former Prime Minister Paul Martin in a recent interview.