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Honorary degree citation - David Johnston

By: Alan Shepard, June 2016

Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Canada’s 28th governor general.

In this vast country, there are few figures as distinguished and respected as His Excellency David Johnston.

Born in Sudbury, Ontario, the Governor General earned degrees from Harvard University, the University of Cambridge and Queen’s University.

Upon graduating in 1966, he quickly established himself as an influential voice in Canadian academia, teaching law at a number of different universities in Quebec and Ontario.

Over the course of his 40-year career in academia, his expertise on legal and political matters made him a highly sought-after thinker.

Brillant éducateur et administrateur, il a effectué de longs mandats à titre de recteur et vice-chancelier aux universités McGill et de Waterloo.

Figure de proue du milieu universitaire canadien, le gouverneur général a animé deux émissions-débats sur l’actualité dans les années 1990 (mille neuf cent quatre-vingt-dix). Ainsi, il a partagé son savoir et contribué à informer la population durant une période où se déroulaient des conversations nationales de grande importance.

Il a supervisé les débats télévisés des élections fédérales de 1979 (mille neuf cent soixante-dix-neuf) et de 1984 (mille neuf cent quatre-vingt-quatre) – deux scrutins marqués par des victoires historiques du Parti conservateur – ainsi que les élections provinciales de 1985 (mille neuf cent quatre-vingt-cinq) au Québec et de 1987 (mille neuf cent quatre-vingt-sept) en Ontario.

As Crown representative and the de facto head of state, His Excellency represents Canada domestically and abroad and has been a guiding force behind numerous federal and provincial commissions.

This includes the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in which His Excellency served as a honorary witness.

The commission saw the Canadian government work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to address the history and legacy of Residential Schools.

Exemplifying an unparalleled dedication to public service, His Excellency is the founding chair of the National Round Table on Environment and the Economy and co-chaired the United Way campaign of Greater Montreal.

Since His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston’s appointment in 2010, a number of Concordians have been appointed to the Order of Canada, an honour granted by the Governor General’s office.

That list includes famed CBC broadcaster Stuart McLean; Maïr Verthuy, a renowned feminist scholar and first principal of Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute; and, most recently, celebrated art historian and professor emerita Sandra Paikowsky.

Over the years, His Excellency has also honoured Concordians with Governor General’s Awards, including Prof. Jean-Philippe Warren, who won in 2015 in the category of French non-fiction, and Concordia alumna Rhonda Mullins, also in 2015, in the category of translation.

His Excellency’s many accomplishments during his tenure as governor general form an impressive and ongoing list.

En 2012 (deux mille douze), par exemple, le Cabinet du Gouverneur général a ouvert la Rencontre de la Couronne et des Premières Nations à Ottawa afin de renforcer les relations entre le gouvernement du Canada et les communautés autochtones.

En 2013 (deux mille treize), Son Excellence a établi la Fondation Rideau Hall. Cet organisme caritatif indépendant et apolitique aide personnes et organisations à réaliser leurs aspirations pour le Canada grâce à des projets axés sur le développement de la conscience communautaire et le travail bénévole.

Recognized with over 20 honorary degrees, His Excellency’s accolades are extensive.

He is both a Chancellor and Principal and Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada, and an

Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

In 1992, His Excellency received a 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal in recognition of his work as an outstanding Canadian citizen.

He is also a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and honour to present to you His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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