"I am pleased to accept the responsibility of being Her Majesty's representative in Canada, with all that entails, through our history and our custom."

"In the contemplation of our wholeness lies the symbolic importance of the Governor General"
Levees Set for Calgary & Vancouver

With the firing of artillery salutes and a fly-past of CF-18 fighter jets, Adrienne Clarkson was installed as Canada's 26th Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in a Parliament Hill ceremony on October 7th.

Mme. Clarkson, as she has asked to be called, together with John Ralston Saul her husband, was received by The Queen at Balmoral on September 28th. The vice-regal designates returned to Ottawa on October 2nd, where they were greeted by the Prime Minister before proceeding to take up residence at the government Guest House at 7 Rideau Gate.

The installation

The installation ceremonies began when Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps attended on Mme. Clarkson and Mr Saul as the party made its way to Parliament Hill, its surrounding streets lined by some 200 officer cadets of the Royal Military College, Kingston. The Guard of Honour was found by the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based at CFB Winnipeg, and the Royal 22e Regiment from CFB Valcartier. The Canadian Forces Band provided the ceremonial music outdoors.

Walking into the parliamentary precincts underneath the Peace Tower, Mme Clarkson and Mr Saul were greeted by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Government in the Senate before receiving a general salute from the assembled troops. Led by Black Rod, the official party then proceeded to the Senate Chamber where the 800 assembled guests had been entertained by the Central Band of HM's Canadian Forces. The list was largely made up of official Ottawa: the Lieutenant Governors, Justices of the Supreme Court, the diplomatic corps, cabinet ministers and Privy Councillors along with Senators, MP's and the Clarksons' specially-invited guests.

After a fanfare greeting the procession, Judith LaRocque, Secretary to the Governor General since the Hnatyshyn years, read the Queen's Commission, the legal document appointing Mme Clarkson. Three Oaths were then administered by Madame Justice Claire L'Heureux Dubé of the Supreme Court of Canada: the Oath of Allegiance; the Oath of Office as Governor General and Commander-in-Chief; and the Oath as Keeper of the Great Seal of Canada.

Having assented orally to each Oath, Mme Clarkson then actually became Governor General at the moment she signed her name to each of the solemn promises, her signature witnessed by those of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice and the Clerk of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. With the playing of the Vice-Regal Salute inside the Chamber (during the last Installation it was placed outside) and the booming of a 21-gun salute fired by 30 Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, Her Excellency then took her seat on the Throne, occupied only by the Sovereign and her representative, and flanked by her Chief of the Defence Staff, her Commissioner of the RCMP and her five Aides de Camp in waiting. His Excellency Mr Saul sat on the consort's throne to Mme Clarkson's left. Sustained applause filled the Senate Chamber.

Restored to the ceremony was prayer, offered by the prelate and close friend who had officiated at the Clarkson-Saul wedding on July 31st, the Most Rev. Michael Peers, Primate of All Canada. The serious moment was also brightened by children's voices, les Petits Chanteurs de Trois Rivières, as well as Inuit Throat Singers and a Newfoundland vocal duo. The Governor General then received the collars of the Order of Canada and the Order of Military Merit of which she is now Chancellor, the Queen being Sovereign of both Orders.

In her lyrical and deeply-reflective remarks, Mme Clarkson began by making a gracious affirmation of loyalty to the Sovereign: "You have expressed to me the affection, loyalty and esteem of the Canadian people, which it will be my honour to convey to our gracious sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II. I am pleased to accept the responsibility of being Her Majesty's representative in Canada, with all that entails, through our history and our custom."

Throughout her speech, the Governor General showed an acute consciousness of history, quoting Eugene Forsey as she referred to the Office as "one skein in the national fabric" of what the late Senator and Monarchist had called our "independent sovereign democracy." Mme Clarkson spoke of the contributions to the Governor's role made by Champlain, Elgin and LeBlanc. In a reference clearly close to her heart, she lauded Vincent Massey for having "laid the groundwork for practically all our modern cultural institutions ­ the Canada Council, the National Arts Centre, the Order of Canada, among others."

Stressing a sense of forgiveness and wholeness as characteristic of Canada, the new Governor mentioned Grand Chief John Kelly's view of the circle of the Ojibway expanding as Canadians of diverse backgrounds entered it. Her Excellency continued by suggesting "That the aboriginal circle enlarges to include all of us ­ native and immigrant ­ arriving by boat and plane to a vast and beautiful land..."

Announcing the holding of a public levee "in each province and territory we visit" in accordance with Their Excellencies' desire "to meet as many of you as we can," Mme Clarkson asked her listeners "to embark on a journey with me," concluding with the affirmation that "in the footsteps of Samuel de Champlain, I am willing to follow."

After processing from the Senate, Her Excellency signed the Government of Canada Golden Book, and a proclamation (until 1995 read during the Ceremony).

Their Excellencies then proceeded home to Rideau Hall in the State Landau, accompanied by a Mounted escort of the RCMP. On their arrival at Government House, Mme Clarkson inspected another Guard of Honour, found by two Regiments of which she is Colonel: the Governor General's Foot Guards and the Canadian Grenadier Guards. A Gala Reception was to follow the same evening to celebrate this special day in the life of the Canadian Crown and of all Her Majesty's "loving subjects."

The appointment

On September 8th, the Prime Minister announced that Her Majesty the Queen had graciously been pleased to appoint the celebrated broadcast journalist and cultural figure Adrienne Clarkson, OC, as Canada's 26th Governor General. Mme Clarkson is a resident of Toronto together with her husband, the celebrated writer John Ralston Saul. Clarkson, 60, succeeds the incumbent, the Rt Hon Romeo LeBlanc. His Excellency bade farewell to a long period of political, parliamentary and then vice-regal service in Ottawa, and returned to his native New Brunswick via special train in a farewell ceremony which took place several days before Mme. Clarkson's Installation.

In a press conference the day news of her appointment was made public, Mme Clarkson spoke with some considerable feeling about her excitement at taking up her new responsibilities. Asked how she would combine her well-known outspokenness on issues such as free trade and cultural nationalism with the strictures of the Vice-Regal position, she asserted that the role of the Crown can well involve speaking out on matters of national concern. "I think all our Governors General have had public experience, and have made a point of doing the things they wanted to do because they were interested and thought they were important," she observed. "Will I take a certain type of political view?... Standing apart from the everyday political fray does not mean not having ideas... We are never prisoners of protocol." Mme Clarkson went on to agree with a reporter who suggested that in terms of raising issues of substance she would be following a Royal pattern of provoking debate on controversial subjects much as The Prince of Wales has stirred discussion on modern architectural trends in Great Britain. "I understand what this country represents," she added. "Both John Ralston Saul and I are products of public school education in this country. That's what has made us Canadians to a large extent."

A cautionary note came from Constitutional expert (and author of two books on the Canadian Crown) Professor David Smith of the University of Saskatchewan. His advice was that when Mme Clarkson does speak, she would do best only to articulate the emotions and feelings of ordinary Canadians. The challenge she faces, he went on to suggest, would be winning the hearts of the public.

Reaction to the appointment was generally favourable. Noting that the Prime Minister had broken his own dictum that the Governor General should be a politician in favour of appointing a woman, an Ontarian and a person of neither French nor English background who had originally come to Canada as a refugee, editorialists and media commentators across Canada observed that at the least Rideau Hall would be invigorated by the dynamism and cultural interests of Mme Clarkson and Mr Saul, following several governor generalcies widely seen as having enjoyed but a low profile. Notably dissident was the National Post, which questioned whether M Chretien's nomination was not a divisive one, given Mme Clarkson's record as opposing free trade. Others wondered whether Mme Clarkson's identification with the cultural left and her dislike of private education would prove troublesome, and asked how able she and her husband would be at listening, rather than lecturing to the diverse Canadian public who do not necessarily share their background and interest of intense involvement in the arts and the world of ideas.

Provoking much less comment was the revelation that much in the same way as M & Mme LeBlanc had been married only shortly before His Excellency's appointment some five years previously, Mme Clarkson and Mr Saul's 15-year relationship had been solemnized during a July 31st ceremony conducted by His Grace, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, at the well-known Anglo-Catholic parish of St Mary Magdalene, Toronto. There was no confirmation of reports that the Queen had insisted on the regularization of their status prior to naming Mme Clarkson her representative, with rather more credence being accorded to speculation that M. Chretien himself felt it important for a couple occupying Rideau Hall not to be living in a common-law relationship. Mme Clarkson alluded to the marriage in her September 8th press conference, saying "We've been married a short enough time to still be enjoying it and long enough to be respectable."

Mme Clarkson's background

Government House provided the following biographical information on the new occupants of Rideau Hall: Born in Hong Kong in 1939, Mme Clarkson came to Canada as a refugee with her family, during the war in 1942. She received her early education in the Ottawa public school system and later obtained an Honours B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Toronto. She also did post-graduate work at the Sorbonne in France. Mme Clarkson is fluently bilingual.

Mme Clarkson has had a distinguished career in broadcasting, journalism, the arts and public service. From 1982 to 1987, Mme Clarkson served as the first Agent-General for Ontario in Paris, promoting Ontario's business and cultural interests in France, Italy and Spain. She was the President and Publisher of McClelland & Stewart from 1987 to 1988. From 1965 to 1982, Mme Clarkson worked as host, writer and producer of several influential programs on CBC Television, including Take Thirty, Adrienne at Large and the Fifth Estate. A noted writer, she also contributed numerous articles to major newspapers and magazines in Canada and wrote three books. In 1988, she assumed responsibilities as Executive Producer, Host and Writer for the programs Adrienne Clarkson's Summer Festival and Adrienne Clarkson Presents for a period of 10 years. Until the announcement of her appointment, Mme Clarkson served as Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec.

She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1992, holds honorary doctorates from four Canadian universities, and received three honorary academic distinctions.

John Ralston Saul

Essayist and novelist, John Ralston Saul was born in Ottawa in 1947. He was educated in the public school systems of Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario before receiving an Honours B.A. at McGill University and a Ph.D. at King's College, University of London. Mr. Saul is fluently bilingual.

Mr. Saul's growing impact on political and economic thought was firmly established with his 1995 Massey Lectures. The resulting book, The Unconscious Civilization, won the 1996 Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction. His books are translated into more than a dozen languages. Mr. Saul's ideas on the nature of Canada were laid out in Reflection of a Siamese Twin (1997).

After an early career in European investments, Mr. Saul worked as Special Assistant and Policy Advisor to the founding Chairman of Petro-Canada from 1976 to 1979. Active in the cause of freedom of speech, he served as secretary, vice-president and president of the Canadian Centre of International PEN between 1987 and 1992. Mr. Saul serves on several Boards, including the Harold Innis Research Foundation and le Comité d'Honneur, Rencontre Québécoise Internationale des Écrivains. He was appointed Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France in 1996 and holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of McGill, Victoria and Western Ontario.

Adrianne Clarkson GG


This page was last updated at 7:00 AM on 04/05/00 by J.W.R.V.