Adrienne Clarkson

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Adrienne Clarkson

Her Excellency The Right Honourable Adrienne Louise Clarkson, CC, CMM, COM, CD (born February 10, 1939), is the current Governor General of Canada. She has held this position since 1999. Her Excellency is the first Chinese Canadian and second woman to hold this position, the first being Jeanne Sauvé.

A Hakka born (as Template:Zh-cp, Cantonese: Ng5 Benk1 zi1, Hakka: Ńg Pn-k) in Hong Kong to William and Ethel Poy (伍英才 Pinyin: Wǔ Yīngci), but raised in Ontario, Clarkson's ancestry is from Taishan, Guangdong, China. Since her father was a British subject, he was a part of a prisoner-of-war exchange with the Japanese Imperial Forces. Her family subsequently came to Canada, using the "special circumstances" clause in the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 that allowed Chinese into Canada during the Second World War in 1942.

Early career

Clarkson studied at Ottawa public schools, until 1956, when she studied in the University of Toronto's Trinity College. It is during this time that she won a governor-general's medal in English. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1960, after which she travelled with her parents to East and Southeast Asia.

She began working on her Master's degree in 1962, with a thesis on George Meredith's poems. She married next year to Stephen Clarkson, a University of Toronto political science professor, until their divorce in 1975. The couple had two children, Blaise and Kyra. After the divorce, the children became estranged from their mother and now rarely speak to her.

Her post-graduate studies were undertaken at the Sorbonne.

She is well known from her work in broadcasting, having hosted and produced several shows for the CBC; these include Take 30, Adrienne at Large, the fifth estate, Adrienne Clarkson's Summer Festival, and Adrienne Clarkson Presents. She was the president and publisher of McClelland and Stewart from 1987 to 1988 and has written several books. As host and executive producer of "Adrienne Clarkson Presents" she received numerous Gemini Award nominations, winning in 1993 for Best Host in a Light Information, Variety or Performing Arts Program or Series. She was the 1995 recipient of the Donald Brittain Award, a special award given every year for the best social/political documentary program. In 1995 she also won a Gmeaux Award (the French-Language equivelant of a Gemini) for Adrienne Clarkson Presents".

In the early 1980s she served a term as the province of Ontario's representative in Paris.

In 1992 she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 1999.

Governor General

On October 7, 1999 she was sworn in as the twenty-sixth Governor General of Canada, after being appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, Canadas head of state, on the advice of Prime Minister Jean Chrtien. Clarkson is the first non-white Canadian Governor General, the second female, and the first without a military or political background.

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Adrienne Clarkson & John Ralston Saul

After 9/11 happened, she praised Operation Yellow Ribbon, saying that "communities across the country selflessly opened their homes and hearts to stranded air travellers." Chretien and U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci would also do the same thing. They also have never forgotten her standing with both of them on Parliament Hill during the memorial service to honour the victims on September 14, 2001, which over 100,000 attended—the largest single vigil ever seen in the nation's capital.

As Governor General she acts as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces on the Queen's behalf. In this capacity she visited the battle group aiding the invasion of Afghanistan in 2002.

Throughout the first few years of her term in office, Clarkson was praised as being a more modern Governor General and bringing more public attention to the office than in recent decades. Criticism soon ensued, however, regarding the way she and her office spent money. Under her tenure, the office's spending has increased almost 200%. The budget for 2003 was estimated to be at $41 million. Part of this increase was due to accounting reasons: several costs associated with the Governor General that were formerly paid by various government ministries were transferred to the Governor General's office, such as bodyguard services.

As well, in late 2003 she undertook a 19-day circumpolar "northern identity" tour to Russia, Finland, and Iceland, along with 50 other prominent Canadians which was seen as a waste of money by some of the Canadian public, particularly after several scandals surrounding high spending in the government, notably the sponsorship scandal and the lavish expense claims of Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski; but her office defended the trip as successful, particularly with regard to her warm reception in Russia and her meeting with Vladimir Putin. The trip was commissioned and paid for by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; however, the general itinerary was under her office's control. A scheduled continuation of the circumpolar "northern identity" tour that would have included visits to Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Greenland was scrapped by the Federal Government in early 2004. The increase in spending resulted in some politicians calling for the role of the Governor General to be reduced or even for the position to be eliminated. A poll taken late in 2003 found a majority of Canadians thought Clarkson was "too grand" for the office.

In 2004, Clarkson and her office were once again in hot water; this time with Canadian monarchists. During a ceremony to recognize Canada's involvement at Juno Beach in the D-Day landings of 1944, Clarkson's office claimed that she was attending as Canada's Head of State, when in fact the Queen, who was in attendance at the ceremony, is Canada's Head of State and should have been treated as the senior official in attendance. Rideau Hall later retracted the statement saying that it was an error of a junior official.

During a visit to Vancouver in September 2004, Clarkson was booed and hissed at by a small, though very vocal, group of protestors. She was on a goodwill tour of a poor area of the city; however, the protestors argued that her visit was nothing more than a publicity stunt to try and gain some of her lost popular support to get her term extended. In November 2004 it was announced that Clarkson's budget would be cut by ten percent.

In early 2005 there were mixed feelings amongst Canadian Monarchists as to her role in the changing of Canada's Letters of Credence and Letters of Recall, which no longer refer to the Queen as Canada's head of state. Clarkson, as both the Queen's and the Crown's representative, could (and should, many monarchists felt) have vetoed that change.

In January 2005, some expressed disappointment that Clarkson did not attend a memorial service for Alberta's late Lieutenant-Governor Lois Hole. Rideau Hall issued at statement saying that Clarkson could not attend because she was out of the country to represent Canada at the inauguration of the President of Ukraine, Mr. Victor Yushchenko; however, the inauguration was postponed and some felt Clarkson could have returned to Canada for the service.

It was later reported in The Toronto Sun and The Globe and Mail that after the postponement of the inauguration, Clarkson would base herself in Paris until a new date was set. This led to more outrage in the press and forced Rideau Hall into damage control by arranging a dinner with Queen Elizabeth II at Sandringham. Rideau Hall stated that this dinner had been a "long-standing engagement", however, the press later reported that sources at Buckingham Palace said the dinner was actually booked at the last minute. In response, some monarchists began lobbying Clarkson to resign if she had willingly used the Queen for publicity and damage control purposes.

In March 2005, there was again question over Clarkson's spending after it was reported she intends to make official visits to Spain and The Netherlands. Many were also upset with her decision not to attend the VE Day celebrations in Europe on May 8 2005. However, Prime Minister Paul Martin has asked that she and her husband, John Ralston Saul, participate in the VE Day celebrations in the Netherlands and Moscow. Martin cancelled his planned trip due to the situation his minority government is in--the opposition Conservatives want to topple his Liberals for an election. [1] ( [2] (

Despite the criticism, Ms. Clarkson and her husband have travelled across Canada to meet the people more than any other Governor General in Canadian history. She has been to Kosovo to meet the troops, spent Christmas with the troops in the Persian Gulf on a Canadian destroyer and, most recently, announced that she would be spending New Year's with Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Ms. Clarkson also writes her own speeches. Clarkson's tenure has been notable for her patronage of the arts.

She is married to Canadian author and philosopher John Ralston Saul, with whom she has lived since 1984 and married in 1999. Adrienne Clarkson is also the sister-in-law of Senator Vivienne Poy.

While some Chinese Canadians feel pride in Clarkson's literary and political achievement, other Chinese Canadians point out that Clarkson has never made much of an effort to embrace her Chinese heritage. For example, although her parents are fluent in Chinese, Clarkson is not. Some thus find Clarkson to be without regard for her Chinese ancestry, and believe she has not been very representative of her minority group while in office.

Clarkson has been asked, and agreed, to remain in office for at least another year in order to promote stability as the country faces the potential constitutional difficulties of a minority government; other past Governors General have had their terms extended in such circumstances, such as Roland Michener and Georges Vanier. This decision however, has been met with mixed feelings across the country. (The Globe and Mail) ( It seems likely that Clarkson's term will come to an end in the fall of 2005.

On March 10, 2005, Clarkson announced that she would create a new trophy for women's hockey in Canada. The details of how the competition will be arranged and the trophy awarded have not yet been announced. (The Stanley Cup trophy in the National Hockey League was donated in 1892 by a predecessor of Clarkson's, Lord Stanley.)

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External links

es:Adrienne Clarkson fr:Adrienne Clarkson no:Adrienne Clarkson ja:アドリエンヌ・クラークソン zh:伍冰枝


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