Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan was remembered by Canadian politicians on Saturday as a friend of Canada and tireless advocate for peace around the world.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former prime minister Paul Martin were among the Canadians who added their voices to the tributes pouring from around the globe following the death of the Ghanian diplomat.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday at the age of 80 following a short illness, the Kofi Annan Foundation announced.
Martin, whose tenure as prime minister overlapped with Annan’s as secretary-general, described his friend as “one of the greats.”
“He had a very broad vision which enveloped everybody, and he was always looking ahead,” he told The Canadian Press.
“He was one of those few people who were able to understand it wasn’t just the rich and powerful nations that counted … that the rich and powerful nations were going to be very dependent, ultimately, on the poorer nations doing well.”
Martin, who worked with Annan on several occasions, said he believed the former UN head would be remembered most for his commitment to multilateral institutions in an age of globalization.
“In today’s age, when many of the world’s leaders seem to think the national interest can prevail against the global interest, that was certainly not his view, it would not have been his view and he expressed it unequivocally,” he said.
Martin said his strongest memory of his friend was a phone conversation the two had after he retired from politics when Annan called to ask him, co-chair, a body that dealt with the future of the African Development Bank.
Their long conversation was, as usual, “about the world, and how we all fit into it,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed his condolences on social media, saying Annan made the world a better place.
“Kofi Annan didn’t just talk about building a more just and peaceful world, he dedicated his life to doing it – and the world is a better place because of him,” Trudeau said on his official Twitter account.
“It’s now up to all of us to carry his work forward.”