12/09/2013 06:47 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

Former PM Paul Martin Wasn't On Harper's Plane Because He Was Signing Deal


Wait a minute.

Aren't we forgetting someone?

Three of Stephen Harper's predecessors — Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Kim Campbell — joined the prime minister for an 18-hour flight to South Africa to take part in Tuesday's memorial for Nelson Mandela.

Former prime minister Joe Clark arrived by his own means.

Photos of Harper mingling with those who also held the highest elected office in the land even shared a laugh with the man he once (briefly) exchanged jabs with as an opposition leader.

But one question remained: where was Paul Martin?

The former Liberal PM was, of course, defeated by Harper back in 2006 and famously had his share of problems with Chretien when he served as Canada’s finance minister.

But it seems it wasn't hurt feelings that kept Martin from joining the historic delegation.

Instead, Martin was in Labrador Monday announcing that his private investment fund helped secure the sale of Universal Helicopters to the Nunatsiavut Group of Companies, the business arm of the Inuit government in Labrador.

Martin's Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity and Entrepreneurship (or CAPE Fund) is a $50-million fund run by the former PM and his son, David, with a focus on investing in ventures that will benefit Aboriginal communities.

Martin was on hand for the signing of the deal, but according to CBC News, the financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"This is one of the largest deals involving aboriginal Canada of this type that have been done," said Martin. "And it's a very significant deal."

Martin released a statement after Mandela's death on Thursday, lauding the anti-Apartheid icon as an inspiration to endless millions.

"Canada was a good friend of Nelson Mandela's and he was a good friend of ours. I was privileged to know him," Martin said.

"He harnessed the power of his own personal sacrifice to help free a nation of the need to hate. With civility, generosity, and equanimity he worked to provide South Africa with a new future. What greater lesson in morality could be asked of any person?"

With a file from The Canadian Press

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Nelson Mandela 1918-2013