Globe and Mail

Reaction generally positive to Clarkson appointment

Choice 'reflects the growing importance of multiculturalism'

Parliamentary Bureau
Thursday, September 9, 1999

Ottawa -- Adrienne Clarkson's pending appointment as Canada's 26th governor-general has been greeted, in most cases, with applause.

"I wish her well and I hope she does a good job," said Reform Party House Leader Chuck Strahl, who added that as a veteran broadcaster she knows the country and its place in the world.

Alluding to the fact that Reform Party Leader Preston Manning criticized the appointment of Roméo LeBlanc, a former Liberal cabinet minister, as governor-general four years ago, Mr. Strahl said: "I'm glad the Prime Minister stayed out of a partisan appointment."

Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative Leader Joe Clark sent a congratulatory letter, while Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe and New Democratic Party Leader Alexa McDonough refrained from making any comment.

NDP spokesman Philippe Gagnon said Ms. McDonough did not object to the appointment.

"I think it's a good choice that reflects the growing importance of multiculturalism," said Alan Whitehorn, a political scientist at the Royal Military College.

Larry Zolf, an author and former colleague of Ms. Clarkson's at the CBC, also applauded the decision.

"She's the perfect hostess, the perfect WASP, the perfect Trinity graduate," Mr. Zolf said. "She's remarkably gifted in all those areas. And John Ralston Saul is one of Canada's most prominent intellectuals -- she carries her own little salon with her."

The position is both ceremonial and critical, ornamental and central to the Canadian system of government.

As governor-general, Ms. Clarkson will represent the Queen and will sign all legislation into law.

She will open Parliament, and read the Speech from the Throne at the beginning of each legislative session. She will sign orders-in-council, commissions and pardons, and will preside over the swearing in of the prime minister, the chief justice of Canada and members of the Privy Council. She will receive diplomats presenting their credentials and perform a variety of ceremonial duties, from awarding medals and making appointments to the Order of Canada to opening schools and inspecting troops.

Before calling an election, the Prime Minister will seek her consent to dissolve Parliament.

Ms. Clarkson, 60, will take on her new duties beginning Oct. 7. But she showed yesterday she already has a gift for governor-generalities when she met with reporters.

She stressed that she is an immigrant and a refugee and will be the first governor-general to come from neither founding nation, and vowed to bring to the job the ideals of public service, teamwork and devotion to Canada.

Ms. Clarkson, who speaks eloquent French, made it clear that she saw a major part of her mission as providing a bridge between French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians.

"I want Canada safe and one country and together. I think it's very important," she said, stressing she would spend a significant amount of time time away from Rideau Hall living in the governor-general's other residence, La Citadelle in Quebec City.

Given that she had come to Canada in 1942 as a refugee from Hong Kong, what were her views on the Chinese migrants trying to come to Canada now? "If I have a view on that, I will communicate it to the Prime Minister, to whom I have a direct conduit," she said.

As further evidence of her discretion, Ms. Clarkson disclosed that she was approached by the Prime Minister at the beginning of the summer, long before other people's names were speculated about publicly.


Here are the 25 governors-general who have preceded Adrienne Clarkson:
Viscount Monck (1861-1868)
Lord Lisgar (1868-1872)
The Earl of Dufferin (1872-1878)
The Marquess of Lorne (1878-1883)
The Marquess of Lansdowne (1883-1888)
Lord Stanley (1888-1893)
The Earl of Aberdeen (1893-1898)
The Earl of Minto (1898-1904)
Earl Grey (1904-1911)
Duke of Connaught (1911-1916)
Duke of Devonshire (1916-1921)
Lord Byng (1921-1926)
Viscount Willingdon (1926-1931)
Earl of Bessborough (1931-1935)
Lord Tweedsmuir (1935-1940)
Earl of Athlone (1940-1946)
Viscount Alexander (1946-1952)
Vincent Massey (1952-1959)
Georges-P. Vanier (1959-1967)
Roland Michener (1967-1974)
Jules Léger (1974-1979)
Edward Schreyer (1979-1984)
Jeanne Sauvé (1984-1990)
Ramon John Hnatyshyn (1990-1995)
Roméo LeBlanc (1995-1999)
Source: Governor-General's Web site (

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