I want to pay tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and to offer my sincere condolences and those of the constituents of Brandon-Souris, to her family and loved ones.
It feels like we’ve lost a member of our family. Someone so familiar, so ever-present, so enduring. Her Majesty was timeless.
Her Majesty was not just the Queen of the United Kingdom and head of the Commonwealth, she was Canada’s Queen.
As she said during her visit to Canada in 2010: “My mother once said that this country felt like a home away from home for The Queen of Canada. Prime Minister, I am pleased to report that it still does.”
No matter where she went, throngs of Canadians, both young and old, would wait for hours to shake her hand or get a glimpse.
It has been inspiring to see so many from around the globe share their heartwarming stories and their interactions.
For many she was a symbol of grace and eloquence. To others she was their Head of State and Commander-in-Chief. And to all of us, she was an extraordinary woman and embodied the very best of duty and service to others.
She transcended generations. While everything changed around us, she was a pillar. During the most tumultuous of times, she provided stability. She was a North Star to many and a role model to millions.
She was not just a Queen; she was my Queen.
From a young boy going to school in Elgin, Manitoba, she was present in our morning singing of God Save the Queen and was prominently displayed in our school.
Our family watched Her Majesty’s annual Christmas Day speeches, and we took to heart her words of encouragement and calls to action.
For her, faith, family, community, charity, and dedication to her subjects were paramount.
From being the first monarch to open a Canadian Parliamentary session, to celebrating Canada’s centennial, to being there on the day we patriated our constitution, she was ever present.
For anyone who went to a hockey game at the old Winnipeg Arena, you will fondly remember the most magnificent painting of Her Majesty, nicely settled between the two flags.
My most memorable occasion with Her Majesty was having the opportunity to shake her hand during one of her six visits to Manitoba. It was at the Legislature in 2002 to celebrate her Golden Jubilee while I was an MLA. While it was only a brief encounter, her warmth and grace shone through.
It was during that visit; thousands of Manitobans had travelled to the city to celebrate her jubilee. It was also an extraordinary moment when she unveiled the refurbished Golden Boy statue, which is pitched on the dome of the Manitoba Legislature.
To have the Queen, on her Golden Jubilee to unveil the Golden Boy, which is one of Manitoba’s most famous symbols, is a memory I will never forget.
During Her Majesty’s many trips to Manitoba, she was able to visit even the smallest rural and remote communities.
From Churchill, Thompson, Gillam, Flin Flon, Norway House, Swan River, The Pas, Dauphin, Carman, and many others, she visited these communities to better understand the province and the people who call it home.
Just recently, the Brandon Sun ran a wonderful story about the Queen, Prince Philip, Princess Anne, and now King Charles’ 1970 visit to the Bailey farm outside of Carberry, Manitoba.
They were able to take a moment out of their busy schedule to ride horses and inspect the crops at the Bailey Farm. And sure enough, 40 years later after her visit, Mr. Bailey had an opportunity to meet the Queen in Winnipeg. She spoke fondly of her time on his family farm.
It speaks volumes that the Queen was just as comfortable on a farm in rural Manitoba, as she was at a state banquet or at Buckingham Palace.
After seven decades, it is hard to imagine a world without her. It is impossible to encapsulate her positive influence in Canada and in our own lives.
Her Majesty’s legacy is profound, and it marks the end of an era and the beginning of another.
God save the King!