Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette was installed as Canada’s 29th Governor General on Monday in a poignant ceremony in Parliament Hill’s Senate Chamber.
The former astronaut, engineer and administrator succeeds the Right Honourable David Johnston as the representative of Canada’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.
Ms. Payette takes over a range of constitutional and ceremonial duties on the Queen’s behalf.
They include hosting foreign royalty and heads of state; summoning, proroguing and dissolving Parliament; reading the Speech from the Throne and granting Royal Assent to bills passed in the Senate and House of Commons.
Hundreds of guests, including Senate Speaker George J. Furey, his House of Commons counterpart, Geoff Regan, as well as dignitaries, parliamentarians and former Governors General rose as Ms. Payette was led into the Chamber by Usher of the Black Rod J. Greg Peters to the strains of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” one of several pieces of music selected for the ceremony by Ms. Payette.
The ceremony repeatedly evoked the covenant between Parliament and Crown.
The Throne of Canada, the Tudor imagery framing its dais and the crimson decor of the chamber all served as reminders that the Senate Chamber is where the Sovereign or her representative, the Governor General, addresses the assembled members of both houses of Parliament.
Ms. Payette’s 14-year-old son, Laurier Payette Flynn, sat close by while his mother took the oaths of office, administered by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.
Moments later, cannons thundered a 21-gun salute as the newly installed Governor General took the throne.
Speaking without notes, the Governor General delivered a powerful inaugural speech that made special mention of Canada’s Indigenous leaders and addressed challenges such as climate change and poverty while affirming the power of concerted action to effect change.
“Anyone can accomplish anything and rise to the challenge as long as they are willing to work with others, to let go of the personal agenda, to reach a higher goal and to do what is right for the common good,” the Governor General said.
“This is exactly what I hope my mandate as the Governor General will reflect.”