Karen Mizoguchi
October 18, 2017 07:25 PM

Through tear-welled eyes, Justin Trudeau paid tribute to The Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie, hours following the news of the musician’s death.

On Wednesday, the Canadian Prime Minister, 45, gave a brief press conference before the weekly Liberal caucus meeting on Parliament Hill, and it was obvious how much of a lasting impact Downie had on Trudeau as tears streamed down his face and his voice cracked.

“I thought I was going to make it through this but I’m not,” Trudeau told reporters. “It hurts.”

Downie died Tuesday evening after a battle with brain cancer. He was 53. The Tragically Hip announced the news via their website and Facebook page with a message from the rocker’s family.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP

WATCH: The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie Dies After Battling Brain Cancer

“We all knew it was coming. But we hoped it wasn’t,” Trudeau said about Downie, who was diagnosed with incurable glioblastoma in December 2015.

“Gord was my friend, but Gord was everyone’s friend. He knew, as great as we were, we needed to be better than we are,” he added. “Our buddy Gord, who loved this country with everything he had, and not just loved it in a nebulous ‘oh, I love Canada way,’ he loved every hidden corner, every story, every aspect of this country that he celebrated his whole life.”

Trudeau and Downie were seen together at a few events and mostly kept their friendship private. The pair were last pictured together at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau, Quebec, in December 2016.

“There will never be another one like you, Gord. Rest in peace my friend,” Trudeau tweeted on Wednesday morning.

Tony Bock/Toronto Star/Getty

In addition to Trudeau, other high-profile Canadians expressed their condolences on social media, including Ryan Reynolds and Seth Rogen.

While The Tragically Hip was never a mainstream act in the U.S., in their native Canada, they’ve had nine albums go to No. 1, and have received 14 Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy.

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