MONTREAL - Former federal cabinet minister Jean Lapierre was remembered Saturday in Montreal as a loyal family man and as a gifted communicator who shared his passion for politics with everyday people.
Several hundred family members, friends and dignitaries came to attend a religious service for the ex-political commentator and his wife, Nicole Beaulieu.
In a tearful eulogy, Lapierre's daughter Marie-Anne described her father as a proud man who protected what he loved and those he believed in.
"Papa, we are so proud to be your children," she said. "The beacon has gone out, but its light is still alive."
Lapierre, 59, three of his siblings and Beaulieu were among the seven people who died in a plane crash in eastern Quebec on March 29.
Marie-Anne Lapierre also paid tribute to Beaulieu and the strong union the couple shared.
"For 27 years, Nicole was there for my father," she said. "They were so united, and they still are."
Lapierre's son, Jean-Michel, described the crash as an "incomprehensible tragedy" that affected not only the five members of the Beaulieu-Lapierre family but also that of the two pilots who also died in the crash, Pascal Gosselin and Fabrice Labourel.
Hundreds of people also attended a first funeral last week for Lapierre, his father Raymond, his two brothers, one of his sisters and Beaulieu in Lapierre's hometown of Bassin in Iles-de-la-Madeleine.
Lapierre's father died of Parkinson's disease just a few days before the crash.
Former prime minister Paul Martin eulogized Lapierre as a good friend and a gifted politician who he credited with making valuable contributions to Canada both as a cabinet minister and a commentator.
He said his friend was someone who could "explain Quebec to Canada, and Canada to Quebec."
"Everywhere he went, he touched somebody, and he made people feel better," Martin said.
"You have left us, but your memory never will. Goodbye, goodbye my friend."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau were the among the many dignitaries who travelled to the Saint-Viateur d'Outremont church to pay their respects to Lapierre.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the service, Trudeau described Lapierre as "an extraordinary, thoughtful, passionate man who was deeply committed to his country, and always looked for the very best for it."
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney also attended, as did NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe and several federal and provincial cabinet ministers and former Quebec premiers.
Ahead of the service, Lapierre's former political colleagues described him as a man who loved to laugh, was respected by members of all political parties and, above all, as someone with a gift for explaining politics to the public in a way they could understand.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard described Lapierre as a man who united people across the political spectrum.
"He was a man from the regions but also a man from the city so he could talk to all Quebecers from all walks of life," he said. "There was a deep emotional attachment between Quebecers and Jean Lapierre."
Former Quebec premier Jean Charest said Lapierre "constructed himself a place that's unique in the political landscape and the media landscape, and he lived in both worlds."