The Canada Institute would like congratulate former Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar Julie Payette on being named the 29th Governor General of Canada since confederation.

Most know her as a Canadian astronaut who logged over 600 hours in space during missions in 1999 and 2009. But the Canada Institute also remembers Payette's contributions during her time as a Wilson Center Scholar in 2011. Staff remember her dedication to promoting the benefits of science and innovation education. She also presented the Canada Institute with an out-of-this-world piece of memorabilia, a crew patch from her 2009 mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

Payette is expected to begin her term in the fall of 2017, when she will replace the outgoing governor general, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston. Importantly she has already gotten through the first stage of the process, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeting that the Queen was pleased to approve Payette’s appointment.

The governor general is the representative of the Queen in Canada. The role is a non-partisan and apolitical position that has evolved over time. While Canada’s Constitution Act of 1867 places executive power in the hands of the Queen, in practice this power is exercised by the prime minister and his cabinet.  As governor general, Payette will act on the advice of the prime minister, but she has the right to advise, warn and counsel the government of the day.

The governor general’s most important responsibility is to ensure Canada always has a prime minister in place that has the confidence of Parliament. The governor general presides over the swearing in of the prime minister, the chief justice of Canada, and the Cabinet. Payette will also be responsible for summoning, proroguing and dissolving Parliament and delivering the government’s Speech from the Throne. She will represent Canada during visits abroad and receive royal visitors, heads of State and foreign ambassadors at her official residence.

Throughout our history, the Canada Institute has been fortunate to receive such high-quality scholars of extraordinary ability. We are certain that Julie Payette will serve the office of governor general and the country of Canada extraordinarily well.