The Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin announced on 4 August, 2005 that, on his recommendation, Her Majesty the Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II was pleased to approve the appointment of Ms. Michaëlle Jean as the 27th Governor General of Canada.
Ms. Jean will serve in succession to the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson.
Were Canada a republic, it is unlikely that the President would be a non Caucasian woman, as are both the present Governor General and the Governor General Designate.
Having been appointed by The Sovereign, Madame Jean will be sworn into office on 27 September , 2005 at a ceremony on Parliament Hill that is as rich in colour as it is in meaning.
On taking the oath, the GG Designate will assume her duties as Her Majesty’s representative, including the role of Commander in Chief of the Canadian Forces. She will be presented with the insignia of the Order of Canada and the Order of Military Merit, reflecting the important role of the Crown in recognizing Canadian excellence.
As the newly installed Governor General completes her oath, the personal standard of the Governor General will be raised over Parliament Hill. Upon exiting the Centre Block, she will be accorded the Vice-Regal Salute for the first time as Governor General before inspecting a Guard of Honour.
A key element of the installation day will be the Governor General’s first address to the nation. This speech will set out the Governor General’s vision for her term of office in bringing to life the important and ongoing role of the Canadian Crown in the life of Canada and its citizens.
Biographies of the new Governor General and her husband are set out below.
Not only is it highly unlikely that the new or existing Governor General would become President in a republic, unlike a President they remain above politics. Their transition to the office is seamless, inexpensive and above all, non-divisive.
Until next time,
Michaëlle Jean was born in Port au Prince, Haiti. As a young child in 1968, she and her family left her country and sought refuge in Canada.
She received a Bachelor of Arts in Italian and Hispanic languages and literature, and continued her studies towards a Master of Arts in comparative literature at the University of Montreal. From 1984 to 1986, she taught at the Faculty of Italian Studies at the same university.
During the 1980’s, she pursued linguistic and literary studies at the University of Perouse, the University of Florence and the Catholic University of Milan, all of which cited her for excellence.
She is fluent in five languages: French, English, Italian, Spanish and Creole.
As she pursued her studies, Michaëlle Jean worked for eight years, from 1979 to 1987, with Québec shelters for battered women. She has taken in, supported and accompanied hundreds of women and children in crisis, while actively contributing to the establishment of a network of emergency shelters throughout Québec and elsewhere in Canada. She was also involved in aid organizations for immigrant women and families, and later worked at Employment and Immigration Canada and at the Conseil des Communautés culturelles du Québec.
Madame Jean’s sense of social commitment and her appreciation of national and international realities led her to journalism. For 18 years, she has been a highly regarded journalist and anchor of information programs. She joined Radio-Canada in 1988, working successively as a reporter and host on such news and public affairs programs as Actuel, Montréal ce soir, Virages and Le Point. In 1995, she anchored a number of Réseau de l’Information à Radio-Canada (RDI) programs such as Le Monde ce soir, l’Édition québécoise, Horizons francophones, Les Grands reportages, Le Journal RDI, and RDI à l’écoute. In 1999, she was also asked by the English network, CBC Newsworld, to host The Passionate Eye and Rough Cuts which broadcast the best in Canadian and foreign documentary films.
In 2001, Michaëlle Jean began anchoring the weekend editions of Radio-Canada’s major news broadcast Le Téléjournal. In 2003, she became the anchor of Le Téléjournal’s daily edition Le Midi.
In 2004, she started her own show, Michaëlle, which is broadcast on both French-language public television networks. This program features a series of in-depth interviews with experts, enthusiasts and visionaries.
In the mid-1990s, Michaëlle Jean also participated in a number of documentary films produced by her husband, filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond: La manière nègre ou Aimé Césaire chemin faisant, Tropique Nord, Haïti dans tous nos rêves, and L’heure de Cuba. These thought-provoking documentaries were critically acclaimed and earned awards both in Canada and internationally.
Michaëlle Jean has won numerous honours for her professional achievements, including: the Human Rights League of Canada’s 1989 Media Award for her report titled La pasionaria, on the struggle of an immigrant woman in Québec; the Prix Mireille-Lanctôt for her report titled Partir à zéro, dealing with spousal violence; the Prix Anik for best information reporting in Canada for her investigation of the power of money in Haitian society; the inaugural Amnesty International Canada Journalism Award; the Galaxi Award for best information host; the 2001 Gemini Award for best interview in any category; and the Conseil de la Langue Française du Québec’s Prix Raymond-Charette.
Michaëlle Jean has also been named to the Ordre des Chevaliers de La Pléiade by the Assemblée internationale des parlementaires de langue française, and has been made a citizen of honour by the City of Montreal and the Ministère de l’Immigration et des relations avec les citoyens of Quebec in recognition of her accomplishments in communications.
Michaëlle Jean is married to Jean-Daniel Lafond. Their daughter, Marie-Eden, is six years old. Michaëlle Jean’s family also includes Mr. Lafond’s two daughters from a previous marriage and his two grandchildren.
MONSIEUR JEAN-DANIEL LAFOND
Born in France, Jean-Daniel Lafond is a filmmaker, a writer and a producer of documentary films, and a former professor of philosophy.
At a very early age, he discovered his first passion – the theatre – while attending school. He performed on the stage on a regular basis until 1971, and again in June 2000.
After studying literature and philosophy, Mr. Lafond taught philosophy from 1966 to 1971, while pursuing research in audio-visual training and communications.
He worked closely with the research branches of the Service de radiodiffusion télévision française, the Institut National de la Recherche Pédagogique and the Atelier de Création Radiophonique de Radio-France.
He contributed to the publication La Revue du Cinéma from 1968 to 1986, and has published numerous theoretical and critical reviews of the film industry. During this period, he also participated in many educational or experimental productions.
In 1974, he left France for Quebec, Canada, and became a Canadian citizen in 1981. As a visiting professor and researcher in education sciences at the University of Montreal, he worked on the development of an experimental training program for teachers in the audio-visual field. In the early 1980s, he left the university to focus solely on his true passions: film-making, radio and writing.
In 1985, at the National Film Board, he directed his first Canadian documentary: Les Traces du rêve (1987 Genie nomination for best documentary). He has since produced some fifteen documentary films, including Le Voyage au bout de la route, Tropique Nord (TV5 award for best French-language documentary), Haïti dans tous nos rêves (best political film award, Hot Docs Festival, Toronto), Salam Iran, a Persian Letter (2002 Gemini Award) and Le cabinet du Docteur Ferron (2004 Gemini Award). His documentaries encourage viewers to reflect on the destiny of individuals and peoples.
In addition to film, he has developed a body of original works for radio (for France-Culture and for Radio-Canada) and has authored many books. Since 2002, he has also been a regular contributor as a guest philosopher on the program Indicatif Présent on Radio-Canada’s radio network.
An advocate for fictional and documentary cinema, he has been a Board member and Vice-President of l’Association québécoise des réalisateurs et des réalisatrices de cinéma et de télévision, as well as co-founder and President of the Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal and of the Observatoire canadien du Documentaire (Canadian Documentary Network). In 1999, he was awarded the Prix Lumières by the Association québécoise des réalisateurs in recognition of his advocacy for the profession and for creative freedom.