Gov. Gen. David Johnston arrived at the airport shortly after noon with his wife Sharon before meeting with local dignitaries at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.
“The best part of this job is visiting the communities across the country,” Johnston said. “One of the roles of the Governor General is to connect, honour and inspire Canadians, to celebrate excellence … We try to go across the country to connect the values that make us prosperous and happy communities, and to exchange the stories from one community to another, and I’ve got to tell you, there are some great stories out of Prince Albert.”
Among those officially welcoming the Governor General to the city were Mayor Jim Scarrow, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Vaughn Solomon Schofield, Grand Chief Ron Michel and their spouses.
Johnston was scheduled to make a courtesy call with the mayor later in the afternoon, signing the guest book at City Hall alongside council members. He appeared well-briefed on local developments.
“We’ve already begun that discussion, looking at local issues,” Johnston said. “Looking at, for example, infrastructure projects that are going on, looking at the remarkable initiative you’ve done with respect to community policing that is an example, I think, for the entire country and the entire world, and the issues that come up on a very basic level of how you take a good community and make it better, because one never rests in that business. There are always problems and issues to be addressed.”
Later in the day, the governor general was scheduled to address Community Mobilization Prince Albert and the P.A. Grand Council, as well as to present the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.
After meeting with dignitaries at the Rawlinson Centre, Johnston took to the auditorium stage in front of more than 400 students in grades 7 and 8 from six area schools to discuss the role and responsibilities of the governor general.
The students had prepared earlier using Eduzone, a new online tool that provides information about the governor general’s role and the history of the position. Johnston officially launched Eduzone on Oct. 1, the second anniversary of his installation (more information is available at www.gg.ca/eduzone).
During the discussion, students asked Johnston questions about the governor general’s constitutional role, his responsibilities as commander-in-chief, representing Canada at home and abroad, recognizing excellence and achievement, and how to bring Canadians together.
“What I’d love students to know is to understand our institutions of government, our parliamentary democracy, the rule of law with justice in this country,” Johnston said. “We are so fortunate in how we’ve evolved a system of government that serves our people well — not perfectly, always improvements can be made, but served well — and our greatest danger I think is being complacent about it.
What I’d love students to know is to understand our institutions of government, our parliamentary democracy, the rule of law with justice in this country. - Gov. Gen. David Johnston
“We don’t have, for example, the participation in voting, especially amongst young people, we should. I hope that as young people … understand more about what makes us free, why the rule of law is important to us, that it ensures so many of those freedoms and liberties that we enjoy and shouldn’t take for granted, they would say, ‘My, I want to do my best to be sure that continues and I want to be involved in my community, my city, my province, my country.’”
Such a lesson in civics was precisely what Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology instructor Joanne Johnston (no relation) had in mind when she brought several Grade 10 students to meet the Governor General. The students recently started their governance unit and their instructor believed the event would help them better understand his political role.
“It’s kind of an integrated process too, because we talk about the different levels of governments,” she said. “We have a municipal election coming up in a couple weeks, so they’ll know who the mayor is, and I’m hoping that they’ll be more active in voting as well, if they know and are able to meet some dignitaries.”