Like many cohorts before us, we had the privilege of meeting with Her Honour, The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, 29th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. However, unlike other cohorts, we had the opportunity to watch Her Honour give the Speech from the Throne and visit the Lieutenant Governor’s Suite for a reception this past September. Upon entering the Lieutenant Governor’s office, the long history of the position was impressed upon us. Portraits of Her Honour’s predecessors adorned the walls, and one of more than 50 of her aides-de-camp and volunteers was there to greet us and explain his specific role.
Despite the pomp and circumstance that comes with the position, the Lieutenant Governor was unassuming in our meeting and spoke with great candor. She described her constitutional and ceremonial roles, but was eager to highlight her connection to the people of Ontario. The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario is a non-partisan position in a partisan environment. Her Honour broke with tradition by delaying the announcement of a theme for her tenure. She wanted to first speak with Ontarians to gauge their priorities and gather details about the issues they found important. After listening to Ontarians, she chose the themes of “Ontario IN the World” and “Sustainability in Ontario”. Her Honour feels that her unique apolitical position enables her to listen to the needs of all Ontarians and she was quick to emphasize how fortunate we all are to be living in Ontario and Canada.
Of personal interest, Her Honour indicated that during her travels across Ontario, she noted that Ontarians struggle to find a comprehensive political and cultural identity. As a Canadian who identifies as a proud Nova Scotian, I found it extremely interesting that the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario was raising questions I had wondered myself. What identifies Ontario? Who are Ontarians? While Ontario alone did not “create” Canada, it seems that the line between federal and provincial interests are blurred in this province. It is my sincere hope that over the course of this internship, the answers to those questions become more clear to me.
Our meeting with the Lieutenant Governor was an important one and we would like to thank Her Honour for taking the time to meet with us. We would like to extend a special thank you to her dedicated and expert staff who made us feel very welcomed in the Lieutenant Governor’s Suite and patiently answered all of our questions – thank you!