OTTAWA -- A tearful Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Gord Downie, the iconic lead singer of the Tragically Hip who died Tuesday, will be sorely missed.

The prime minister says Downie was a man who loved his country, and now Canada is the less for his absence.

Trudeau says the singer wanted to make the country better.

He says in a statement that Downie had a profound command of language and used words to create landscapes.

Trudeau spoke of Downie's passion and commitment.

In his last months, Downie devoted himself to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, the prime minister noted.

His brief appearance to speak of the singer was emotional.

"We all knew it was coming, but we hoped it wasn't," he said on Parliament Hill before the weekly caucus meeting. "I thought I was going make it through this, but I'm not. It hurts."