Highlights from Michaelle Jean's term as GG
Governor General Michaelle Jean conducts the annual Inspection of the Ceremonial Guard on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday June 22, 2010. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Sunday, September 26, 2010 6:15PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 2:48AM EDT
OTTAWA - Some notable events from Michaelle Jean's five-year term as Governor General, which ends Friday:
Aug. 4, 2005 — Then-prime minister Paul Martin announces the CBC-Radio Canada journalist and Haitian refugee will become the country's 27th governor general.
Aug. 11, 2005 — Controversy erupts over an article by Rene Boulanger in a Quebec sovereigntist publication alleging Jean and husband Jean-Daniel Lafond supported Quebec independence. It links Lafond to former members of the terrorist organization, the Front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ). Martin says Jean and Lafond had both been checked by the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Boulanger ultimately admits he wanted to undermine anglophone support for Jean's appointment.
Aug. 13, 2005 — It's revealed that Jean holds dual citizenship with France, because of her marriage to French-born Lafond. Under the French civil code, the future commander-in-chief of Canada's Armed Forces is technically forbidden from holding government or military positions in other countries. The French embassy declares this law will not be enforced in Jean's case.
Aug. 17, 2005 — A documentary emerges in which Jean is filmed with hard-line Quebec separatists, all toasting "to independence" after which Jean states: "Independence can't be given, it must be taken.'' Jean says she was speaking about Haiti, not Quebec. She says both she and Lafond are "proud to be Canadian and ... have the greatest respect for the institutions of our country. We are fully committed to Canada.'' Martin backs her, despite polls indicating a 20 per cent drop in support for her appointment.
Sept. 25, 2005 — Jean announces she has renounced her French citizenship.
Sept. 27, 2005 — At 48, Jean becomes the first black Governor General, as well as the third woman, the fourth-youngest, and the fourth journalist to assume the post.
Oct. 29-30, 2005 — Jean makes her first foreign trip as Governor General, an aboriginal "spiritual journey'' to France, where she celebrates aboriginals' role in the country's liberation from Nazi occupation.
May 13-17, 2006 — Jean returns to her native Haiti for the first time as Governor General to attend the installation of Haitian president Rene Preval.
Nov. 29, 2006 — On a visit to Africa, Jean sheds tears after entering the "room of no return'' at Elmina Castle in Ghana, the last African institution that captives passed through before they were loaded on slave ships destined for the Americas.
March 8-10, 2007 — Jean makes her first visit to Afghanistan to visit Canadian troops in her role as commander-in-chief of the military. She meets with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and celebrates International Women's Day in a country often criticized for its treatment of women.
Dec. 4, 2008 — Jean ends a parliamentary standoff by granting Prime Minister Stephen Harper his request to prorogue Parliament. This comes after opposition parties agreed to defeat his Tory government and form a coalition. Her decision buys Harper the time he needs to escape the controversy relatively unscathed.
May 25, 2009 — Jean stirs international debate when she joins Inuit in Rankin Inlet in cutting up a seal carcass, consuming a piece of its heart, and subsequently accepting an invitation to join a seal hunt. Harper voices his support for the gesture in the face of a European ban on Canadian seal products.
Dec. 30, 2009 — With his government facing a growing storm of controversy over the handling of detainees in Afghanistan and MPs' access to critical documents on the issue, Jean grants Harper another request for prorogation based on his claim he needed to "recalibrate'' government policy amid changing economic conditions. MPs don't sit again until early March, after the Vancouver Olympics. Meanwhile, a raft of legislation goes by the wayside and Harper appoints more senators, shifting the balance in the upper chamber.
Jan. 13, 2010 — Jean weeps during a news conference on the Haitian earthquake which killed thousands — including her daughter's godmother — and left millions of Haitians homeless. "Now more than ever, it is time for us to show our solidarity with the most vulnerable people in the Americas, our brothers and sisters in Haiti,'' she said, her hand suddenly flying to her mouth to stifle a sob, "whose courage is once again being so harshly tested.'' She concluded with a Creole message directly to her Haitian homeland.
Jan. 24, 2010 — Jean sings an emotional "song of hope'' for Haiti during a visit to Calgary, assuring Haitians the world has not forsaken them.
March 8-9, 2010 — Jean sobs as she visits the land of her birth, including her ancestral hometown of Jacmel, which was close to the quake's epicentre and was devastated.
April 14, 2010 — Jean announces she expects to be leaving her job in September. Harper later confirms her term will not be extended, and the search for a successor begins. Polls suggest a majority of Canadians think she's done a good or excellent job.
May 2, 2010 — In an unusual break with non-partisan tradition, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff calls on the prime minister to extend Jean's term, saying she has served her country with "distinction and honour'' and deserves Canada's thanks.
July 8, 2010 — Harper announces that a university president, David Johnston, will replace Jean in late September or early October. The new Governor General takes office Friday.