July 8, 2010
I write to welcome with enthusiasm the announcement of the appointment of our colleague David Johnston as the next Governor General of Canada. A Companion of the Order of Canada, Professor Johnston has served his country brilliantly and tirelessly for decades. His life fully embodies the Canadian values of excellence, humility, public service, and advancement on the basis of talent and character.
Professor Johnston’s journey to Rideau Hall began from humble but enterprising roots in northern Ontario, and carried him to Boston where he attended Harvard University on a scholarship. There, he excelled academically while captaining the hockey team as an All-American defenseman. Professor Johnston travelled next to Cambridge for legal studies, and back to Queen’s University where he completed his qualifications as a lawyer and started his professorial career.
The University of Toronto was fortunate to recruit Professor Johnston to our Faculty of Law where he served with distinction for several years. Then, the University of Western Ontario wisely offered him the position of Dean of Law, starting a period of more than thirty years of high-level academic leadership. That period includes fifteen years as Principal of McGill University in Montreal, followed by more than a decade as President of the University of Waterloo – a record of university leadership that is unmatched in recent Canadian history.
Professor Johnston is renowned as an academic leader and legal scholar with a finely-honed sense of public policy. He has advised or led government commissions on a striking variety of important and challenging issues. As well, throughout his career David has made friends across Canada and around the world. His consensus-building skills and equanimity are legendary. Professor Johnston’s strong independence of judgment and deep understanding of constitutional matters may also be valuable assets as he discharges his new responsibilities. I would add that, on the personal front, David Johnston is one of those rare individuals who is equally at home meeting heads of state and corporate titans, dissecting a complex policy matter, encouraging local entrepreneurs and junior employees, mentoring students, or skating with children on an outdoor shinny rink.
In closing, on behalf of the extended University of Toronto community, I want to thank Governor-General designate David Johnston for agreeing to serve his country yet again – and extend our very best wishes to David, Sharon and their family for great success, happiness, and fulfillment as they move to Rideau Hall this fall.