Highlights of the Mandate
The Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc became Governor General of Canada on February 8, 1995, following a long and distinguished career of public service. An Acadian born in Memramcook, New Brunswick in 1927, he was installed as Canada's 25th Governor General since Confederation, and the first from the Atlantic Provinces.
The Governor General's role is built on four major themes:
1. Representing the Crown in Canada
Canada's Parliament has three parts: the Crown represented by the Governor General, an appointed Senate and an elected House of Commons. One of the Governor General's most important responsibilities is to ensure that Canada always has a Prime Minister. The Governor General also gives Royal Assent to bills passed by the House of Commons and the Senate, reads the Speech from the Throne, signs State documents, summons, and prorogues sessions of Parliament, and dissolves Parliament for an election.
The Governor General has the right to be consulted, to encourage and to warn, and meets regularly with the Prime Minister and senior officials including the Clerk of the Privy Council, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Chief of the Defence Staff.
His Excellency also presides over the swearing-in of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of Canada and cabinet ministers.
The following are examples of events that took place during Governor General LeBlanc's mandate:
During His Excellency's tenure, the Constitution of Canada was amended three times. The Governor General presided at ceremonies for three Constitutional Amendments: the first on April 21, 1997, amended Newfoundland's education system; the second, on December 19, 1997, amended Quebec's denominational school boards along linguistic lines; and the third on January 8, 1998, allowed for the establishment of a single, publicly funded and administered school system in Newfoundland.
On three separate occasions, Their Excellencies received members of the Royal Family: Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh in 1997; The Duke of Edinburgh in 1998; and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in 1996.
2. Promoting Canadian Sovereignty
The Governor General is the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces. He encourages excellence and dedication in the Forces, visits military bases across Canada, often welcomes troops home and performs other ceremonial duties, including the presentation of military honours.
"We send our peacekeepers off to some disputed zone, full of local intrigue and power blocs and uncertainty and danger, and they are supposed to save lives not with their weapons, but through their competence and their character. And they do it." Speech on the occasion of the presentation of the insignia of the Order of Military Merit, February 5, 1997
Meeting with Heads of State and Government in Canada
As the representative of Canada's Head of State, the Governor General plays an important role in relations with other countries, in keeping with our nation's standing as a sovereign and autonomous country. In that capacity, he receives visiting Heads of State and other foreign dignitaries.
Since 1995, Their Excellencies have received 19 Heads of State:
Visits by a Governor General to other nations are an important instrument of Canada's foreign policy, solidifying relationships and helping to further our country's economic, cultural, industrial, and humanitarian interests. At the request of the Government of Canada, Their Excellencies' State and Official visits have included:
Each year, countries around the world send diplomats to Canada to represent their governments' views and interests. More than 150 high commissioners and ambassadors, in their first official duty in Canada, have come to Rideau Hall or to La Citadelle to present their credentials to Governor General LeBlanc.
3. Celebrating ExcellenceCanadian Honours and Awards
By granting honours, Canada pays tribute to outstanding people. As Governor General, Mr. LeBlanc presented a variety of orders, decorations and medals.
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is the highest honour that Canada can give its citizens for outstanding lifetime achievement, merit or service. During his mandate the Governor General appointed 679 new recipients, celebrated the Order's 30th anniversary in 1997, and presided over 14 investiture ceremonies at Rideau Hall and 11 individual ceremonies on his travels across the country.
Order of Military Merit
The Order of Military Merit recognizes exceptional service and performance by members of the Canadian Forces. As Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, Mr. LeBlanc presided over seven OMM ceremonies recognizing 387 members of the Canadian Forces
Decorations for Bravery
Decorations for Bravery honour people who have risked their lives through acts of courage. On behalf of all Canadians, the Governor General awarded 377 individuals with Decorations of Bravery during 12 ceremonies.
Meritorious Service Decorations
The Meritorious Service Decorations enable Canada to acknowledge exceptional deeds or accomplishments performed over relatively short periods of time. Initially they recognized only military service. In 1991, a civil division was created to recognize outstanding achievements in any field of civilian endeavour. His Excellency honoured over 169 recipients at 11 different MSD ceremonies between 1995 and 1999.
Governor General's Caring Canadian Award
"If I am to be known for anything, I would like it to be for encouraging Canadians, for knowing a little bit about their daily, extraordinary courage. And for wanting that courage to be recognized." Installation speech, February 8, 1995.
Mr. LeBlanc launched a new award -- the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award -- in 1996, to recognize the everyday courage and dedication of ordinary people who have made extraordinary contributions to their families, communities or country. The award was created to recognize these special volunteers -- the unsung heroes of our country. Since its establishment, over 402 volunteers and caregivers across this country have received this award. The Governor General recognized dozens of recipients in 14 different ceremonies while visiting communities across the country.
Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts
The Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts were created in 1999 through a partnership of the Canada Council for the Arts and Governor General LeBlanc. Six $10,000 prizes will be awarded annually for distinguished career achievement in visual and media arts, and one $10,000 prize for distinguished contributions to visual and media arts through voluntarism, philanthropy, board governance or community outreach activities. The Canada Council funds and administers the awards.
The Canadian Heraldic Authority
Through the Canadian Heraldic Authority, the Governor General recognizes groups or individuals for public service or national importance by granting them coats of arms.
Coats of Arms
Coats of arms honour people and groups who have contributed to Canada. They reflect our country's rich history and geography, as well as the character and aspirations of Canadians.
The Governor General may personally present new coats of arms and sign the granting documents at a formal ceremony. Only documents the Governor General has personally presented bear his signature. Others are signed by officers of the Canadian Heraldic Authority.
During Governor General LeBlanc's mandate, a total of 305 grants and registrations of coats of arms were made. His Excellency was able to personally present 24 coats of arms during his visits to different communities across the country, including among others during his mandate, the coat of arms to the new territory of Nunavut, the Kamloops Indian Band of the Shuswap Nation, the City of Nelson, and la Ville de Percé.
In August of 1996, the Canadian Heraldic Authority was host to the International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences, attracting a gathering of experts from around the world in the related fields of genealogy and heraldry. This was first time the prestigious congress was held outside Europe, providing a forum for lectures, workshops and exhibits to the 150 heralds and artists from over two dozen countries world-wide.
4. Encouraging National Identity, National Unity and Moral Leadership
In cities and towns from coast to coast to coast, the Governor General promotes national identity and unity, as well as Canada's cultural richness and diversity. He or she participates in community events, visits hospitals and schools, celebrates with Canadians at important anniversaries, and supports a wide range of organizations. The Governor General encourages Canadians to be proud of their country, and to work together to build compassionate and strong communities.
During the mandate, Their Excellencies met thousands of individual Canadians from all parts of the country. They received over 4,800 invitations and attended nearly 2,000 events including such national ceremonies as Canada Day and Remembrance Day. In addition to meeting with Canadians in every part of the country, Their Excellencies met many thousands of Canadians who visited Rideau Hall, home of every Governor General since Confederation, and a national historic site. More than 33,500 people came to the annual Garden Parties and over 9,400 people attended the traditional New Year's Levées.
In September 1999, Governor General LeBlanc hosted a luncheon at the VIIIth Summit of la Francophonie, held in Moncton, N.B. The Summit attracted 51 foreign Heads of State and Government to discuss matters relating to Francophones throughout the world.
Recognizing Aboriginal Achievement
Governor General LeBlanc attended events that lent support to a number of causes related to his personal interests. Through many of his 791 speeches, Mr. LeBlanc promoted awareness of voluntarism, the teaching of Canadian history and the role of Aboriginal peoples.
"We owe the Aboriginal peoples a debt that is four centuries old. It is their turn to become full partners in developing an even greater Canada. And the reconciliation required may be less a matter of legal texts than of attitudes of the heart." Speech on the occasion of the presentation of the 1996 Native Role Models, February 23, 1996.
In 1996, Mr. LeBlanc signed a proclaimed creating June 21 as National Aboriginal Day, to recognize Aboriginal people, their culture, their history and how they helped build our country. His Excellency also signed the proclamation for the creation of Nunavut, Canada's new territory, on April 1, 1999.
Roméo LeBlanc also introduced the practice of holding the traditional New Year's Levee in other regions across Canada: Rideau Hall, Ottawa (1996); La Citadelle, Québec (1997); Winnipeg, Man. with Lieutenant Governor W. Yvon Dumont and Mrs. Lyla Dumont (1998); and St. John's, Nfld., with Lieutenant Governor Arthur Maxwell House and Mrs. Mary House (1999).
For the first time outside Rideau Hall, Their Excellencies hosted the annual Children's Christmas Party with 125 children in Verdun, Quebec in 1998. The children were members of Toujours Ensemble, an organization which supports young people. Hosting the Children's Christmas Party outside Rideau Hall is in keeping with Their Excellencies' wish to meet as many Canadians as possible in their own communities.
Each year, the Governor General sends messages to individuals, groups and organizations in Canada celebrating a significant anniversary or important event. Mr. LeBlanc sent more than 100,000 wedding anniversary, birthday and other special messages.
Encouraging Canadian History and Youth
Governor General LeBlanc has a personal interest, dating back from his days as a teacher, in encouraging the teaching of Canadian history to youth.
"I am told that there is a proverbial phrase among the Inuit: 'a long time ago, in the future.' Let the children see our history, and maybe it will help to shape the future." Address to the Empire Club and the Royal Commonwealth Society, June 26, 1996.
During his mandate, the Governor General participated in a number of events related to these interests.
The Governor General's Academic Medal
The Governor General's Academic Medal was created in 1873 to encourage academic excellence and scholarship across Canada. The medal is earned by the graduating student who attains the highest academic standing in each participating Canadian secondary school, college or university. It is one of the most prestigious awards available to students in Canadian educational institutions. During the mandate, 14,732 students received the Governor General's Academic Medal.
Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History
The Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History is a project of Canada's National History Society (CNHS). The Award's aim is to recognize excellence in the teaching of Canadian history, inspire educators to strive for excellence, reward teachers' and schools' initiative and innovation, and to celebrate Canadian history. The Governor General hosted the first annual award ceremony at Rideau Hall in October 1996, and subsequent ceremonies in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
The Award program is sponsored by The Hudson's Bay History Foundation, the National Capital Commission, The Molson Foundation, The T. R. Meighen Foundation, Bell Canada, Investors Group, and Tricon Global Restaurants (Canada) Inc. The program is managed by the Company for Education Communications Inc. (CoEd).
History Medal for the Millennium
Governor General Roméo LeBlanc chose to commemorate the millennium by creating the Governor General's Canadian History Medal for the Millennium which celebrates Canadian history and youth. This one-time only special award will be presented to secondary school students who achieve the highest grades in Canadian history or Canadian studies in the school year 1999-2000. The award ties into the Government of Canada's millennium program in highlighting history and youth to mark the passage to the new millennium. Other contributors are the Millennium Bureau and the Canadiana Fund.
Millennium Edition of the Map of Canada
The Governor General's Millennium Edition of the Map of Canada, taken into space in 1999 by Canadian astronaut Julie Payette, was distributed to all schools across the country. The Imperial Oil Charitable Foundation and Natural Resources Canada, through its mapping division, Geomatics Canada, were contributors to this Canadian Geographic project.Promoting Citizen Access to Rideau Hall
One of the Governor General's objectives over the past five years has been to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to tour the residence and the grounds of Rideau Hall, a national historic site. The grounds of Rideau Hall are now open daily from 9 a.m. to one hour before sunset and, since July 1996, visitors can enjoy expanded tours of the state rooms, gardens and greenhouses. The number of visitors to the grounds has tripled in Mr. LeBlanc's mandate bringing it to an estimated 125,000 per year.
The expanded tour program now includes hands-on activities for children, period costume animation and interpretive talks and demonstrations by tour guides which bring to life the role of the Governor General.
In May 1997, the Governor General officially opened a Visitor Centre on the grounds of Rideau Hall which includes a reception area, an exhibit on the role and responsibilities of the Governor General, and a gift shop. The centre, constructed by the National Capital Commission, provides a welcome area for visitors, including tour buses, and provides information on the grounds, residence, tours and special activities.
Outside the Visitor Centre, an Activities Tent offers a place for rest and refreshment or to participate in an interpretive activity. New landscaping now leads to a children's play structure installed in 1996, donated by the Canadian Bankers Association through the Canadiana Fund. On the grounds, new interpretive panels describe the history of the Visitor Centre building, ceremonial tree plantings, and the Parliament Hill viewpoint.
In 1997, renowned Aboriginal carver Richard Hunt, was in residence at Rideau Hall to repaint the Kwakiutl totem pole, a gift to Governor General Lord Alexander in 1946 from Hunt's grandfather, Mungo Martin, an acclaimed carver, painter and storyteller of the Kwakiutl Nation of northern Vancouver Island. At His Excellency's initiative, the totem pole was then relocated to the front of the grounds. It was incorporated into the tours of the residence and grounds along with an inuksuk unveiled on the second National Aboriginal Day in 1997.
The grounds of Rideau Hall were host to a number of outdoor summer concerts including Connie Kaldor, the Barra MacNeils, Leahy, and Fred Penner. The Governor General's 1999 Summer Concert Series in association with CGI headlined Colin James and the Little Big Band and the Johnny Favourite Swing Orchestra, among other prominent Canadian artists. More than 65,000 people attended the concerts on the grounds during the mandate.
More than 60,000 people attended the annual Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario's Teddy Bear Picnic, held on the grounds of Rideau Hall for the very first time in 1998 and again in 1999.
Governor General's Website (www.gg.ca)
The Governor General's website was launched in June 1997 and now receives approximately 500,000 hits per month. The website includes news releases, speeches, a photo gallery, on-line nomination forms for honours and awards, citations for recipients of the Order of Canada, Meritorious Service Decorations and the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award, frequently asked questions, and much more.
Her Excellency Diana Fowler LeBlanc
Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc travelled extensively with her husband representing the Office of the Governor General throughout Canada and abroad. She also undertook an independent program of events and speaking engagements in the areas of her special interests which included, among others, palliative care, Native issues, breast cancer research, children at risk, persons with disabilities, and mental health issues. Diana Fowler LeBlanc will continue endeavours to encourage and support those who work in the area of palliative care, as she believes that every Canadian deserves the right to the hospice option.
Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc was honorary patron of a number of organizations, including the Canadian Palliative Care Association, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, the Canadian Paediatric Foundation and Society, and the Centre for Studies of Children at Risk. Together with the Governor General, she was patron of many other organizations including the National Native Role Model Program. Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc was also honorary president of the Girl Guides of Canada.
Among numerous activities during the mandate, Her Excellency hosted, "Illness and Healing", a remarkable exhibit of paintings by the late Robert Pope, in coordination with the Robert Pope Foundation. Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc also hosted a two-day conference at Rideau Hall, bringing together members of the international paediatric community, opened the 8th Annual Palliative Care Conference, officially opened the new facilities of the Hospice at May Court, co-hosted the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) telethon, hosted a reception for the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada, and attend the 1996, 1998 and 1999 National Aboriginal Achievement Awards.
The Diana Fowler LeBlanc Aboriginal Social Work Scholarship
Diana Fowler LeBlanc has long had a passion for social work. Since they arrived at Rideau Hall in February 1995, both the Governor General and Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc have spoken about the need to address issues facing Aboriginal peoples, including the importance of reconciling the problems of the past with the needs of the present.
"The idea for this scholarship originated during my own recent studies in social work as a mature student," she says. "I feel that it is important, not only to encourage more Aboriginal students to become trained social workers, but also to raise the awareness among all Canadians about Aboriginal culture and economic realities."
Successful students will benefit both professionally and personally by completing a degree in social work. With their training, they will be able to work effectively in their own communities where the needs are greatest, and also serve as role models.
Statistics: LeBlanc mandate (1995-1999)
His Excellency the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc, P.C., C.C., C.M.M., C.D., Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada - biography
The Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc was born in Memramcook (L'Anse-Aux-Cormier), New Brunswick in 1927. He obtained a B.A. in 1948 and a B.Ed. in 1951 at l'Université St-Joseph, Memramcook. He also attended l'Université de Paris from 1953 to 1955, where he studied French Civilization.
Mr. LeBlanc taught at Drummond High School, New Brunswick (1951-1953) and at the New Brunswick Teachers' College, Fredericton (1955-1959). In 1960 he began a career in journalism, becoming a correspondent for Radio-Canada in Ottawa (1960-1962), the United Kingdom (1962-1965), and the United States (1965-1967). In 1965, he became the Founding President of the CBC/Radio-Canada Correspondents' Association.
He served as Press Secretary to Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, 1967-1968, and to Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968-1971. From 1971 to 1972, he was the Assistant to the President and Director of Public Relations at l'Université de Moncton.
First elected to the House of Commons in 1972 representing Westmorland-Kent, New Brunswick, Mr. LeBlanc served for ten years as a Minister of the Crown. He held the portfolios of Minister of State (Fisheries) (1974-1976), Minister of Fisheries and the Environment (1976-1979), Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (1980-1982), and Minister of Public Works, responsible also for the National Capital Commission and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (1982-1984).
As the nation's longest-serving fisheries minister, Mr. LeBlanc helped to win Canada's 200-mile fishing limit and to shape the international Law of the Sea on fisheries. Conservation and management under his stewardship created strong resource growth in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Mr. LeBlanc won a lasting reputation as a friend of the fishermen.
Mr. LeBlanc also served on Cabinet Committees for External Affairs and Economic Affairs (1974-1982); Communications (1974-1984; Chairman 1976-1981); Social Affairs (1982-1984); and Priorities and Planning (1975-1984).
Summoned to the Senate of Canada on June 29, 1984, Mr. LeBlanc served on Senate Committees for Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration (1984-1993; Chairman 1989-1993); Foreign Affairs (1986-1994); and the Sub-Committee on Security and National Defence (1992-1994). He was a Member of the Canada-France Parliamentary Association and the International Association of French-speaking Parliamentarians. He became Speaker of the Senate on December 7, 1993.
In 1985-1986, Mr. LeBlanc was a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Canadian Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa. He has also been a part-time Faculty Member, Canadian Studies (Current Issues Seminar), at Concordia University in Montreal. He has received a Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, from Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick (1977), a "Doctorat en Administration publique, honoris causa", from the Université de Moncton, New Brunswick (1979), a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from the Université Sainte-Anne, Nova Scotia (1995), a Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, from the Ryerson Polytechnic University, Ontario, the title of Doctor of the University, honoris causa, from the University of Ottawa, Ontario (1996), a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from the St. Thomas University, New Brunswick (1997), a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from the Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland (1997), a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from McGill University, Quebec (1997), and a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from the University of New Brunswick, New Brunswick (1999).
On February 8, 1995, Mr. LeBlanc became Governor General of Canada.
Her Excellency Mrs. Diana Fowler LeBlanc - biography
Diana Fowler LeBlanc's passionate commitment to the advancement of social issues stem from her recent studies in social work and her many years' work in related fields in Britain.
Born in Toronto, Diana Fowler was educated at King's Hall, Compton, Quebec, and obtained a diploma in French Civilization from the University of Paris in 1959. In 1996, Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc earned a Bachelor of Social Work from McGill University, completing the studies she began as a mature student before her husband was appointed Governor General. In 1998, Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Ottawa.
In 1960, Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc worked at Radio-Canada in Paris and, later, at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in London, England. From 1969 to 1980, Mrs. LeBlanc held various administrative positions in medical and legal fields. She was a medical conference organizer from 1980 to 1989, and was involved in a number of educational and research projects for the British Heart Foundation and the British and International Societies for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. During this period, Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc also organized educational courses in developmental paediatrics for doctors and therapists specializing in childhood diseases. She served as Committee Secretary for Libertas, a non-profit charity for people with disabilities, and did volunteer work for Mobility Trust, a charitable organization for people with impaired mobility.
Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc travelled extensively with her husband representing the Office of the Governor General throughout Canada and abroad. She also undertook an independent programme of events and speaking engagements in the areas of her special interests which included, among others, palliative care, Native issues, breast cancer research, children at risk, persons with disabilities, and mental health issues. Along with her husband, Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc actively participated in official functions ranging from national award ceremonies (including the Governor General's Caring Canadian Awards, the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards, and Order of Canada investitures) to State functions where she welcomed political, religious and business leaders from around the world.
Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc was honorary patron of a number of organizations, including the Canadian Palliative Care Association, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, the Canadian Paediatric Foundation and Society, and the Centre for Studies of Children at Risk. Together with the Governor General, she was patron of many other organizations including the National Native Role Model Program.
Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc is honorary chair of The Diana Fowler LeBlanc Aboriginal Social Work Scholarship. She created this scholarship to enable more Aboriginal students to pursue studies in social work at recognized universities and colleges across Canada. Mrs. Fowler LeBlanc was also honorary president of the Girl Guides of Canada, and honorary colonel of the 412 (Transport) Squadron.