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Three former PMs to join Harper at Mandela memorial

Prime Minister Stephen Harper pens a message on Dec. 6, 2013, in the book of condolence set up after the passing of Nelson Mandela. Mr. Harper has invited his predecessors to join him in attending a memorial for former South African president.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Three of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's predecessors will join him in attending a memorial for former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Mr. Harper's office announced Saturday that former prime ministers Kim Campbell, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien have confirmed they are joining Mr. Harper's delegation, which will leave for Johannesburg on Sunday.

Mr. Harper had extended invitations to all living former Canadian prime ministers.

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Alberta Premier Alison Redford tweeted Sunday morning that she would be leaving for South Africa with Mr. Harper's delegation. Alongside Mr. Mandela, Ms. Redford worked on improving human rights in Africa in the 1990s.

A news release Sunday said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is also joining the delegation.

The Prime Minister and his delegation will attend a large memorial service on Tuesday, Dec. 10, scheduled to be held in a soccer stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg, as well as his lying in state on Wednesday, Dec. 11, in Pretoria.

Meanwhile, a book of condolence has been set up on Parliament Hill, one which Mr. Harper signed on Friday morning.

Mr. Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95. Shortly after, Mr. Harper praised him in statement as one of the world's "great moral leaders and statesmen."

"He demonstrated that the only path forward for the nation was to reject the appeal of bitterness. His forbearance was legendary: his magnanimity spared all South Africans incalculable suffering," Mr. Harper said.

Among those invited is Brian Mulroney, the former prime minister who was an early supporter of Mr. Mandela. A spokeswoman for Mr. Harper's immediate predecessor, Paul Martin, said Friday there were "no plans to attend for now" as memorial service details were being finalized.

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Mr. Harper will be among world leaders expected to attend memorial events for Mr. Mandela. U.S. President Barack Obama and former president George W. Bush will attend next week, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Mr. Mandela will be mourned over several days. A state funeral was scheduled for Dec. 15 in the village of Qunu, Mr. Mandela's childhood home. Mr. Harper is not expected to attend that service.

Canada gave Mr. Mandela honorary citizenship in 2001.

With a file from Carrie Tait in Calgary and reports from The Canadian Press and Reuters

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