Today, Prime Minister Trudeau will announce that Julie Payette will be named as Canada’s next Governor General. She is a stellar choice because she is a woman. She is a stellar choice because she is from Quebec (since the last Governor General, David Johnson is from Ontario, tradition has it that the next Governor General should be a francophone). She is a stellar choice because she is an astronaut and has viewed the entire world from space on two occasions (she has been to the international space station). She has seen what is going on from above the 1000 mile mark. Maybe she can bring new insight to the world’s problems.
Julie Payette was Canada’s chief astronaut in the Canadian Space Agency between 2000-2007. She is Canada’s second singing astronaut. She plays the piano. She speaks 6 different languages. She has an engineering degree. She worked for IBM and the Montreal Space Centre. She is an accomplished woman!
As the Governor General of Canada, Julie Payette will be the Queen’s representative in Canada and, technically, the Head of State in Canada. The Governor General reads the federal government’s throne speech. The Governor General presides over the swearing in ceremonies of Prime Ministers and Cabinet. When the Prime Minister calls an election, he/she goes to the Governor General. When the Prime Minister prorogues Parliament, he/she goes to the Governor General. The Governor General hosts the Queen and official visits of the Royal family. The official roles of the Governor General are set out in letters patent signed by King George VI in 1947.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made an enlightened choice. What is clear is that Canada has many amazing women who are qualified to hold the highest offices and the highest roles on corporate boards of directors. I hope that Governor General Julie Payette joins the government in promoting opportunities for women in Canada and abroad.