Media Releases

Statement from UofT President David Naylor on the appointment of David Johnston as Governor-General designate

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.