Thursday, September 30, 2010

Farewell, Your Excellency

Michaëlle Jean completes her five-year term as Canada’s Governor-General on Oct. 1, 2010.

The Queen’s representative began her term with a trip to Winnipeg.

A former Radio-Canada journalist, she asked to meet journalism students. So on Oct. 19, 2005 a well-dressed and nervous group of Creative Communications students and I met the Governor-General at Winnipeg city hall.

She smiled gamely and spoke graciously to each of us. As RCMP bodyguards hovered, she asked the students about their studies and encouraged them to use journalism to promote human rights.

Whatever you think of the monarchy – and the Queen’s offspring have frequently revealed themselves as genial idiots – Ms. Jean is different.

Born in Haiti, she represents not so much the weight of British tradition as the current Canada of smart, successful immigrants.

Twice my wife and I had dinner with her (and a hundred other close friends) at Rideau Hall when she presented the annual Michener Awards for public service journalism of which I was a judge.

I can testify that Ms. Jean was much more personable than her three predecessors (although Roméo LeBlanc knew how to have a good time, too).

And keeping Stephen Harper waiting for two hours when he begged her to prorogue Parliament in 2008?


1 comment:

  1. I had the opportunity to meet Her Excellency this summer when she visited Norquay Community Centre, in Point Douglas, where I happened to be running youth programs this past summer.

    I too can attest to the fact that she is an absolutely personable, genuine woman. She delivered a youth dialogue that afternoon and it was amazing to see how humble and sincere she was, even in speaking to a room of inner-city youth. I had a chance to speak with her that afternoon and was taken aback by how "real" she is.

    One of my co-workers joked that afternoon, "Dani, some people get starstruck with musicians and actors, you get starry-eyed with journalists and politicians, don't you." It's true, particularly in the presence of a woman such as Her Excellency.