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Home >> World
UPDATED: 10:42, September 28, 2005
Canada's new governor-general vows to promote national unity
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The time of the "two solitudes" that has been characteristic of Canada for so long is now over and greater unity should be promoted, the country's new Governor General Michaelle Jean said Tuesday in her maiden speech.

Jean, 48, was sworn in as the 27th governor general of Canada during a colorful ceremony on the Parliament hill.

"The time of the 'two solitudes' that for too long described the character of this country is past," Jean said, referring to the fact that the country has long been divided as French and English Canada.

"We must eliminate the specter of all the solitudes and promote solidarity among all the citizens who make up the Canada of today," said Jean, who had endured controversy over questions about her sympathies to Quebec separatism.

"Along with my husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, I hope to rally our creative forces around those values that unite us all and that are universal in scope," she vowed.

The first black person to take up the post as the Queen's representative in Canada and the country's de facto head of state, Jean also spoke of hope, freedom and overcoming prejudice.

After Prime Minister Paul Martin announced Jean's appointment in August, she was once questioned over her loyalty to Canada. There were claims that she and her husband harbored separatist sympathies.

On Aug. 17 Jean released a statement stating full commitment to Canada by both her and her husband. This week, she announced that she had given up her French citizenship which she gained after marrying her husband, who is French.

Jean's experience has also been hailed as a true immigrant success story. Moving to Quebec from Haiti at the age of 11 with her family, she had become an award-winning journalist, a celebrated television host and producer in Quebec before she was chosen as the governor general.

Educated both in Canada and Italy, she is fluent in five languages: French, English, Spanish, Italian and Haitian Creole.

The swearing ceremony Tuesday on Parliament Hill is solemn yet lively, with musical performances by artists from across Canada, salutes from the military and cheers from the pulic, and maple flags flying in the wind under a bright sunshine.

Jean's predecessor Adrienne Clarkson, who has finished a six-year term and widely applauded for her accessibility to the mass and her thoughtful speeches, is among the many dignitaries at the ceremony.

Source: Xinhua

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