A royal wel­come

The Compass - - OPINION -

The Queen’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in this coun­try, Gover­nor Gen­eral Michaelle Jean, re­ceived a truly royal wel­come to Cupids and other desti­na­tions in this prov­ince last week. It was fas­ci­nat­ing to watch or­di­nary cit­i­zens crane their necks in or­der to get a glimpse at her, with one el­derly lady from Car­bon­ear com­ment­ing that the Cupids 400 cel­e­bra­tions were nice, but her real rea­son for mak­ing the trip to Cupids last week was to see “that beau­ti­ful woman.”

Not only is she beau­ti­ful in ap­pear­ance, but it’s also ob­vi­ous that this lady is a woman of ex­tra­or­di­nary sen­si­bil­i­ties and taste, and un­afraid to tackle thorny is­sues or shy away from con­tro­versy. Re­mem­ber the head­lines she gen­er­ated af­ter eat­ing a raw seal heart? Or the lead­ing role she took af­ter her na­tive coun­try, Haiti, was dev­as­tated by an earth­quake ear­lier this year?

And dur­ing a cer­e­mony to un­veil a me­mo­rial to the Royal New­found­land Con­stab­u­lary in St. John’s last week, she no­ticed a sign in the crowd say­ing “Build houses, not stat­ues.” She could have ig­nored the sign and stuck to her script. But Jean weighed in with both feet, not­ing that hous­ing is im­por­tant, but so, too, are stat­ues and the need to com­mem­o­rate our past. The in­ci­dent was sym­bolic of her per­son­al­ity, and the broad­cast me­dia gave the in­ci­dent plenty of air time.

It’s easy to be skep­ti­cal about roy­alty and ques­tion the ne­ces­sity and ex­pense of hav­ing a Gover­nor Gen­eral of Canada, but ev­ery once in a while some­one like like Michaelle Jean comes along and the crit­ics find it hard to have their voices heard. In­stead, we hear com­ments like this from peo­ple like Premier Danny Wil­liams: “ Your warm heart and your coura­geous spirit have left a deep and last­ing im­pres­sion on the peo­ple of New­found­land and Labrador and we want you to know you are truly ad­mired and re­spected. It’s truly a plea­sure to watch her and Canada truly loves our Gover­nor Gen­eral.”

We couldn’t have said it bet­ter our­selves. Like Wil­liams, we wish Michaelle Jean all the best as she con­cludes her term as Gover­nor Gen­eral of Canada next month. To her suc­ces­sor, David Johnston, who will be sworn in Oct. 1, you have big shoes to fill.

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