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David Johnston GG swearing-in begins

vendredi 1er octobre 2010 par Administrator

Governor general-designate David Johnston, left, is greeted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen, before the start of his swearing-in ceremony on Parliament Hill on Friday. (CBC)

Canada’s next governor general, David Johnston, has arrived on Parliament Hill for his swearing-in ceremony.

Johnston and his wife, Sharon, pulled up to the Peace Tower shortly after 10:30 a.m. ET under mostly clear skies. They were greeted outside by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his wife Laureen and Senator Marjory LeBreton, the leader of the government in the Senate.

Hand in hand, Johnston and his wife walked through the rotunda of the Centre Block. As they made their way down the great Hall of Honour to Senate chambers, they stopped to receive white and red roses from representatives of each of the country’s 13 provinces and territories.

The arrival marks the beginning of a 2½-hour ceremony that will include addresses by Harper and Johnston, and the administering of oaths. The ceremony ends when Johnston and his wife enter Rideau Hall as its residents for the first time.

Johnston replaces Michaëlle Jean, whose five years in Rideau Hall ended Thursday.

Peter Mansbridge is hosting special coverage of the ceremony that began at 10 a.m. ET on CBC and CBC News Network.

Johnston has distinguished himself in a long academic career, where he has built a reputation as someone who brings people together. He led Ontario’s University of Waterloo as its president and vice-chancellor since 1999.

"Here I am at my age of 69 venturing forth from this wonderfully blessed place, the university, for the first time and having a real job, and it’s a job in the public service," Johnston told CBC in advance of Friday’s ceremony.

Educated at Harvard, Cambridge and Queen’s universities, Johnston was made a companion of the Order of Canada in 1998, and he holds 13 honorary degrees.

However, his friends say Johnston still has the common touch.

"I think what David brings to the role of Governor General is [an] extremely sensitive ability to relate to people of all levels of society," said Ken McLaughlin, the University of Waterloo’s official historian and someone who has worked closely with Johnston for years.

"David is a man of a wide range of backgrounds — what he’s achieved he’s achieved because of his own talent and skill," said McLaughlin. "But he sees that talent in other people and he inspires them."

Johnston is no stranger to public service. In 1995 he took a leave from McGill University to head up the "No" campaign during the Quebec referendum.

"I guess I was driven by the sense of this marvelous country breaking up," he said.

Gift for Jean

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a legacy gift for Jean as she departs.

Harper said the federal government will give $3 million in support of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, a non-profit organization that will promote citizen engagement through the arts and creativity, with an emphasis on young people from underprivileged, rural and northern communities in Canada.

The government will also match funds raised privately by the foundation, to a maximum of $7 million over a 10-year period.

Since the 1960s, the federal government has honoured former governors general by backing initiatives they pursued while in office.

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