ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is remembering former Cuban President Fidel Castro as "a larger than life leader."
Castro's death at the age of 90 was announced Friday.
Trudeau, who is attending the Francophonie Summit in Madagascar, expressed his deep sorrow at learning of Castro's passing.
His statement offered condolences on behalf of all Canadians and at the same time acknowledged that Castro was a controversial figure.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the University of Havana in Havana, Cuba on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (Photo: The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
But Trudeau also referred to the late president as a "legendary revolutionary and orator."
The prime minister went on to say that "Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation."
Trudeau recently travelled to Cuba but was unable to meet with Castro, who had been a friend of his father and served as an honorary pallbearer at Pierre Trudeau's funeral in 2000.
However, Castro's brother, the current president, was in the front row as the prime minister spoke to students at the University of Havana.
Trudeau said he knows his father was very proud to call Fidel Castro a friend and that it was a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother while he was in Cuba.
Pierre Trudeau with Fidel Castro in Havana on Jan. 27, 1976. (Photo: The Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand)
Full statement from PMO:
"It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.
"Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.
"While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for "el Comandante".
"I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.
"On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader."