Ottawa funeral underway for MP Mauril Bélanger who died of ALS

Longtime Ottawa MP Mauril Belanger, who died earlier this month after a battle with ALS, will be laid to rest this morning with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and former governor general Michaëlle Jean among the dignitaries in attendance.

Politicians of all stripes, including current and former cabinet ministers, colleagues, local constituents and family members, are expected to take part in a multi-denominational ceremony that will include an honour guard and eulogies from the PM, Jean and Bélanger family members.

Although not a state funeral, the guest list, along with the size and scope of the proceedings, will resemble a state occasion.

Bélanger was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, just after his party swept to power in the 2015 federal election. His condition deteriorated rapidly, although he continued to go to work at his office on Parliament Hill for as long as he could. He died on Aug. 15 at the age of 61.

“It’s been quite a roller-coaster for the last year, as Mauril was very dedicated and wanted to work until the very end — which was very noble, of course, but given his health, it was a challenge,” said a clearly emotional Alexandre Mattard-Michaud, Bélanger’s former chief of staff.

“So I hope the ceremony will bring some sort of closure and that it will bring us all together one last time to celebrate Mauril.”

Mauril Bélanger honoured in House of Commons1:23

The funeral proceedings will begin at 9:50 a.m. ET at Notre-Dame Cathedral, when an honour guard in ceremonial dress and red serge will take its place in front of the cathedral to welcome a procession of dignitaries including Wynne, Jean, former prime minister Joe Clark and parliamentarians past and present.

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