Julie Payette to be our 29th Governor General

The announcement last week that Julie Payette will become our next Governor General is being widely lauded as an excellent choice.  Ms. Payette may be best known as a former astronaut, but she is accomplished in many fields and she embodies some of the very best qualities of Canada. 

Many of her accomplishments are well known.  She was the first Canadian female to board the International Space Station and has been to space twice.  She is also an accomplished engineer, has provided leadership at the Montreal Science Centre, and recently worked with the National Bank in Quebec. Ms. Payette has excelled in competitive industries and succeeded to great heights in traditionally male-dominated fields. 

In addition to this incredible professional resume, Ms. Payette is a great lover of the arts and is even a concert pianist.  She is also an avid sports enthusiast. In his statement welcoming Ms. Payette to her new position, Tom Mulcair spoke about a chance encounter he had with her on the hills of Mont-Tremblant where she volunteers as a member of the ski patrol.

Julie Payette will be sworn in as Canada’s 29th Government General, but she will only be the 4th woman to hold the position.   Jean Sauve was the first and served as our 23rd Governor General. When she was named in 1984 there had only been one other female Governor General across the entire Commonwealth.  Since then, the Canadian position has been filled by Adrienne Clarkson, Michaëlle Jean, and now Ms. Payette, proving that the doors of Rideau Hall are no longer a barrier for women.  That said there remain groups, most notably Indigenous Canadians, who have yet to have one of their own called on to serve as Governor General.

It is true that some Canadians are disappointed we are not celebrating the appointment of Canada’s first Governor General from First Nation, Inuit, or Metis descent.  The sentiment is understandable and many Canadians from all walks of life sympathize with this idea. That’s why it is important that the notion continue to receive support so that we can look forward to the near future when, as a step on our path to reconciliation, Canada will be honored with an Indigenous Governor General.

In the meantime we congratulate Ms. Payette and wish her nothing but the very best in her next role as Her Excellency, the Queen’s Official Representative and Governor General of Canada.  She is nothing short of remarkable and will make a great role model for young Canadians. We are fortunate to count her as one of our own and to have her fill this important role.

We can also take a moment to congratulate His Excellency, David Johnston for his great service to Canada and thank him and his wife Sharon for their generosity and obvious love for our country.  Here in Northern Ontario we have been especially proud of his time in office and count him as one of our great contributors to the Canadian fabric.