A state funeral is underway in Ottawa for former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, seeing generations of progressives pay their respects.
Eminent Canadians, as well as former colleagues, close friends and family members have gathered in the nation’s capital to bid a final farewell, and celebrate the legacy and political accomplishments of a giant of Canada’s New Democratic Party.
The former NDP leader and founder of the Broadbent Institute died on Jan. 11. He was 87. Born in Oshawa, Ont. in 1936 into a working-class family, Broadbent’s political career spanned more than two decades.
He was first elected to Parliament in 1968 and went on to serve as an MP for 21 years — 14 of which were spent as the leader of the NDP between 1975 and 1989. He led the party through four federal elections, faced off against four different prime ministers, and helped grow the party’s footprint across the country.
He was also a respected academic, the first president of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, and honoured as a companion of the Order of Canada.
The ceremony, beginning at 4 p.m. ET, is set to run just under an hour. It will commemorate Broadbent for his advocacy for justice and democracy in Canada and abroad, his work to address income inequality, and his efforts to advance equal rights for women.
Taking place at the historic Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre in downtown Ottawa—a riding Broadbent represented between 2004 and 2006— the state funeral will include addresses from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Manitoba NDP Premier Wab Kinew, and the Broadbent Institute’s Brian Topp and Jen Hassum, among others.
Speaking to CTV News upon his arrival, Singh said that amid the grief, it is “a day to honour and remember Ed.”
“We owe him so much. He’s a legend,” Singh said. “He’s helped out so many young New Democrats… people to this day, think of him as ‘honest Ed.’ He created this really powerful idea that that politicians could be a force for good in your life, and he was someone that people trusted, believed in, and he showed that New Democrats fight for working people.”
The event will also be punctuated by musical performances by Canadian talents, including members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
The prominent Canadians in attendance include more than one dozen current NDP MPs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former prime minister Joe Clark, House of Commons Speaker Greg Fergus, Green Party co-leader Elizabeth May, UN Ambassador Bob Rae, Sen. Hassan Yussuff, B.C. Premier David Eby, Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles, and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow.
“He was a tireless campaigner for social justice, and Canada is significantly better for his years of service, both in politics and out of it,” Trudeau said on his way in, adding that he was honoured to be there to pay homage to him.
Traditionally, while state funerals are held for former prime ministers, sitting cabinet ministers, and governors general, the prime minister is able to offer the special commemoration to any Canadian of stature.
In announcing the special tribute, Trudeau said the occasion would be an opportunity to remember Broadbent’s “incredible legacy — one that will, no doubt, continue to inspire generations of Canadians.”
In 2011, the former NDP leader founded the Broadbent Institute, an Ottawa-based political think-tank. Last week, the organization announced it was creating an “Ed Broadbent Democracy Fund” that will be dedicated to strengthening Canadian democracy.
The non-partisan legacy initiative is meant to continue Broadbent’s work of promoting ordinary Canadians’ democratic participation through educational programs, civic engagement, and leadership development.
To mark the occasion, flags on all federal buildings in Canada, including the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill, flew at half-mast on Sunday, and will remain lowered until sunset.
This is a developing story, check back for updates…
With files from CTV News’ Noushin Ziafati