If Shakespeare thought misery acquainted people with strange bedfellows, he might well agree that mourning a beloved monarch can also bridge some political divides.
At least temporarily.
Such was the case Sunday in London, when former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was invested into the Order of Canada before the eyes of three of his former political enemies.
Harper is one of four former prime ministers present in the British capital for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
He received the title of Companion of the Order of Canada in 2019, but an investiture ceremony did not take place due to COVID-19.
Governor General Mary Simon invested Harper in a private ceremony in London on Sunday afternoon as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former prime ministers Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Kim Campbell looked on.
“As we come together to celebrate (the Queen), I have been honored to be invested into the Order of Canada by @GGCanada Mary Simon,” Harper said in a tweet posted about the event.
“Thank you to Canadian @PMC Trudeau, former fellow Prime Ministers Martin, Chrétien, Campbell and former Governors General Johnston and Jean for attending the ceremony. »
Former Governors General David Johnston, whom Harper nominated, and Michaelle Jean, were also present.
The bad political blood between Harper and Trudeau in particular is well documented, but the two posed side by side for photos after the ceremony.
Having multiple former prime ministers and governors general attend a global funeral together is not a novel practice.
While Harper was Prime Minister in 2013, Chrétien, Campbell, Jean, former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney flew with him to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral.
In her own tweet last week, Harper’s wife, Laureen Teskey Harper responded to a reporter who suggested the flight to London would be interesting with all the political players on the same plane.
“Interesting,” she wonders. “Very interesting if past trips are any reference. Lots of laughs, stories and I’m sure this time memories of the Queen. It’s always wonderful to be part of these kinds of trips.
Chrétien spoke briefly to the media on Sunday and was asked about the attendance of all the other Canadian leaders.
“So together and no fight,” he said with a laugh. “So it’s good.”
He said there weren’t many occasions for this kind of gathering.
“We know each other, we went through the same fights,” he said. “We fought against each other. Like when we play hockey, we can be tough on the ice, then we go for a beer after the game. »
Order of Canada ceremonies are not normally held in secret, but Rideau Hall and the Prime Minister’s Office chose not to inform media traveling with the delegation of Harper’s Sunday event or any similar event. Saturday which saw actress Sandra Oh and Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury invested in order. No explanation of the secret has yet been offered.
Tewksbury later said the ceremony allowed him and Oh to wear the insignia of the Order of Canada at the Queen’s funeral, which is due to take place at Westminster Abbey on Monday.
The Canadian Press