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WOODBRIDGE, Ont. — Powerful people and ordinary folks rubbed elbows yesterday as 1,500 attended the funeral of Al Palladini, the former Ontario Minister of Transportation who died suddenly last week.

Several members of the Ontario Conservative cabinet and Liberal caucus were in attendance.

Attendees included former Ontario NDP premier Bob Rae, federal Tory leader Joe Clark, federal Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley, Lt.-Gov. Hilary Weston and Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman.

Premier Mike Harris eulogized his good friend by saying a few words in Italian, the language of the land where Palladini was raised until moving to Canada at the age of 10. “Ciao, amico mio,” he said.

The funeral service was held in both Italian and English at the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Woodbridge, Ont. north of Toronto.

Palladini died March 7 of a heart attack while playing golf on vacation in Mexico.

He had retired from government, where he had also been Minister of Economic Development and Trade, only a few weeks before his death.

Last fall he was often in the news as he negotiated fuel-surcharge agreements among shippers, carriers and owner/operators.

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