Well done

Staff ~ The Telegram
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She will certainly be a hard act to follow. When MichÄelle Jean was first appointed Governor General, she was something of a cipher to those unfamiliar with her media presence in Quebec.

But if there is one thing that Jean was able to do better than most, it was to fill a challenging and high-profile role, and to grow into it with a verve that was downright impressive.

She will certainly be a hard act to follow. When MichÄelle Jean was first appointed Governor General, she was something of a cipher to those unfamiliar with her media presence in Quebec.

But if there is one thing that Jean was able to do better than most, it was to fill a challenging and high-profile role, and to grow into it with a verve that was downright impressive.

If you were privileged enough to hear Jean speak at a public function, what you recognized almost immediately was both her passion and her involvement with her audience.

Well spoken and thorough, Jean seemed to grasp the strange split between official representative and popular figure.

She recognized and worked well with the pomp and circumstance of her post, and yet, at the same time, was able to handle serious constitutional issues that arose during her tenure, including difficult decisions like that of deciding to prorogue Parliament at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's request and forestall a vote of non-confidence in the House of Commons.

If nothing else, she was able to represent both impartiality and great personal involvement, as she demonstrated after the tragedy of the earthquake in her native Haiti earlier this year.

After she leaves Rideau Hall, Jean will begin a four-year posting as a special envoy for Haiti for the United Nations.

She will be missed. What we get to see now is what the newest face in Rideau Hall will be like.

Thursday, Prime Minister Harper announced that a legal scholar and the president of the University of Waterloo, David Johnston, will take over in the fall, after being selected by a panel of constitutional experts.

Harper used the panel to select a governor general who would be outside the political process, and certainly Johnston has an impressive pedigree as a scholar, including being tapped by Harper to write the terms of reference for the recent Oliphant inquiry into the business dealings between former prime minister Brian Mulroney and Karl-Heinz Schreiber.

Johnston, in his first public comments, has said pretty clearly where he stands: "As the representative of the Queen of Canada, who is our country's head of state, I pledge to be a stalwart defender of our Canadian heritage, of Canadian institutions, and of the Canadian people."

Sorry to say, it sounds fairly dry compared to the way Jean might have put the same sentiments.

But there's room for Johnston to grow, as well.

There are those who can argue - and certainly will argue - that there is no longer any place for the Queen's representative in Canadian politics, and that the expense of the office easily outstrips the value of the post.

That being said, MichÄelle Jean actually showed that there was still a role for a governor general in the Canadian political system: if we're lucky, Johnston will measure up to her example.

For Jean, it's on to the next challenge, and one that we are almost certain she will excel at as well.

Organizations: House of Commons, United Nations, University of Waterloo Queen's

Geographic location: Quebec, Haiti

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  • tometoe
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    RIGHT ON ! you go girl !!!

  • Huck
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I suppose you could say she has been popular with the people. Unfortunately, she was operating outside of her mandate during most of her tenure. If we are going to continue having a GG, then Mr Johnson would appear to be a very wise choice. As for Ms Jean, I'm sure she will excel at her new posting, provided that shaking hands and kissing babies are part of her new job discription.