Jeanne Sauvé: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 Jeanne Mathilde Sauvé
 PC, CC, CMM, CD, BA Ott, BA Paris, LLD(hc) Queen, LLD(hc) Reg, DPSci(hc) Chulalongkorn

In office
14 May 1984 – 29 January 1990
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
John Turner
Brian Mulroney
Preceded by Edward Schreyer
Succeeded by Ray Hnatyshyn

Born 26 April 1922(1922-04-26)
Prud'homme, Saskatchewan
Died 26 January 1993 (aged 70)
Montreal, Quebec
Spouse(s) Maurice Sauvé
Profession Politician, Journalist
Religion Roman Catholic

Jeanne Mathilde Sauvé PC CC CMM CD (née Benoît, 26 April 1922 – 26 January 1993) was a Canadian politician and stateswoman who served as Governor General of Canada, the 23rd since that country's Confederation. She was appointed as such by Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on the recommendation of then Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau, to replace Edward Richard Schreyer as vicereine, with the official announcement of the selection made on 28 January 1984.[1] Sauvé's investiture took place on 14 May of the same year,[1] making her the first woman to serve as Canada's Governor General, and she occupied the viceregal post until succeeded by Ray Hnatyshyn on 29 January 1990.

Sauvé was born in Saskatchewan and educated in Ottawa and Paris, prior to working as a journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). She was then elected to the House of Commons in 1972, whereafter she served as a minister of the Crown until 1980, when she became the Speaker of the House of Commons. While her appointment as the Queen's representative was initially and generally welcomed, Sauvé caused some controversy during her time as vicereine, mostly due to increased security around the office, as well as a republican attitude towards the position.

On 27 November 1972, Sauvé was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada,[2] giving her the accordant style of The Honourable; however, as a former Governor General of Canada, Sauvé was entitled to be styled for life with the superior form of The Right Honourable.


Early life, youth, and first career

Sauvé was born in the Fransaskois community of Prud'homme, Saskatchewan, to Charles Albert Benoît and Anna Vaillant, and three years later moved with them to Ottawa, where her family had previously lived and her father would take her to see the bronze bust on Parliament Hill of Canada's first female Member of Parliament (MP), Agnes Macphail.[3] Sauvé studied at Notre Dame du Rosaire Convent in Ottawa, becoming head of her class in her first year, and continued her education at the University of Ottawa, working for the government of Canada as a translator in order to pay her tuition. At the same time, Sauvé actively involved herself in student and political affairs; at the age of 20, she became the national president of the Young Catholic Students Group, which employed her in 1942, necessitating her move to Montreal.[3]

The Sorbonne in Paris, where Sauvé obtained her degree in French civilizaiton

It was there that Sauvé met Maurice Sauvé, and the two married on 24 September 1948, the same year the couple moved to London; Maurice had obtained a scholarship to the London School of Economics and Sauvé worked as a teacher and tutor. Two years later, they moved to Paris, where Sauvé was employed as the assistant to the director of the Youth Secretariat at UNESCO, and in 1951 she enrolled for one year at the Sorbonne, graduating with a degree in French civilization. Sauvé and her husband returned to Canada near the end of 1952,[3] where the couple settled in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, and in 1959 had one child, Jean-François. Sauvé then became a founding member of the Institute of Political Research and was hired as a journalist and broadcaster with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's French language broadcaster, Radio-Canada.[4]

After success on her first radio programme, Fémina, Sauvé was moved to CBC television and focused her efforts on covering political topics on both radio and television, in both English and French. She soon drew attention to herself and was frequently invited by her friend Gérard Pelletier as a panellist on the controversial show Les Idées en Marche, there revealing her left-wing political ideologies. This absorption of a woman into the traditionally male world of political journalism and commentary was unusual, and Sauvé managed to be taken seriously, even having her own television show, Opinions, which covered "such taboo subjects as teenage sex, parental authority, and student discipline." On air from 1956 to 1963, "it was the show that made Jeanne famous."[5] However, Sauvé also attracted negative attention due to her husband's eventual elevation as a Crown minister; in a piece in The Globe and Mail, Conservative MP Louis-Joseph Pigeon expressed concern over the wife of a minister being paid "fabulous sums by the CBC," calling the circumstances a "shame and a scandal."[4]

Parliamentary career

The Canadian House of Commons, where Sauvé served as a Member of Parliament and later Speaker of the house, sitting in the chair at the far centre

It was the Liberal Party that wooed Sauvé into politics, asking her to run as a candidate in the Montreal riding of Ahuntsic during the 1972 federal election. Though she found campaigning arduous — saying: "I felt uneasy for the first time in my life when I was campaigning... I must say I had qualms about it myself"[5] — Sauvé won, becoming one of five woman MPs, and was subsequently was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council and appointed as Minister of State for Science and Technology in the Cabinet chaired by Pierre Trudeau. She was thus the first woman from Quebec to become a minister of the Crown, and was the sole female in that Cabinet.[6] Sauvé ran again in the election two years later, re-winning Ahuntsic, and was given the Environment portfolio before replacing it in 1975 with that for Communications.

In the 1979 election, Sauvé won the riding of Laval-des-Rapides, but the Liberals lost their majority in the Commons to the Progressive Conservative Party, and Sauvé thus lost her Cabinet position. She remained MP for her riding after the federal election of 1980, which saw the Liberals returned to power and Trudeau reappointed as Prime Minister, and he pointed to her as the candidate for the Speaker of the House of Commons.[6] Because she strongly desired to campaign for the "No" forces in the weeks leading up to Quebec's 1980 referendum on separation from Canada, Sauvé initially refused the offer of running for the non-partisan position, but eventually acquiesced after Trudeau convinced her that she was the right person for the job and she received permission from the leaders of all the parties in the House of Commons to engage in the federalist campaign in Quebec.[7]

In her early days as Speaker, Sauvé often made mistakes with the names of MPs or the ridings they represented — once calling on the Prime Minister as the "leader of the Opposition" — and occasionally miscarried procedural rulings, which led to MPs addressing her with increasing curtness. Further, all 32 of the New Democratic Party MPs in the House walked out in protest of what they viewed as a bias on Sauvé's part; they felt she allowed Liberal MPs to ask more questions than those from any other party. In a CBC interview, Sauvé conceded that the NDP members may have been right that the Liberals may have been allowed more questions over two or three days, but, on the whole, each party received an equal number of opportunities. It was also speculated that MPs had taken to showboating for the television cameras that had recently been installed in the chamber.[7]

Sauvé did, however, find success in implementing reforms that professionalised the speaker's tasks of managing expenses and staff for the House of Commons, cutting back on the excess bureaucracy, personnel, overtime waste, and costs she discovered upon her installation. Once the changes were made, Sauvé had reduced the Commons' support personnel by 300 and saved $18 million out of the annual expenses, all of which, to some, actually improved overall service. Sauvé was lauded, by MPs and the media alike, for her courage in challenging the establishment. Other MPs, though, stated that she had gone too far and balked at the resulting inconveniences, such as having to clear their own plates in the Commons cafeteria. At the same time, Sauvé also established the first daycare for Parliament Hill staff, MPs, and Senators.[8]

She also presided over debates on the constitution, dealing with filibusters and numerous points of order, as well as discussions over the proposed Energy Security Act, against which the Loyal Opposition mounted a counter-campaign that culminated in a two week bell-ringing episode when the Conservatives' Whip refused to appear in the Commons to indicate that the opposition was ready for a vote. Despite pressure from the government that she intervene to break the deadlock, Sauvé maintained that it was up to the parties to resolve it themselves through negotiation.

Governor generalship

Sauvé was the first female Governor General in Canada's history, and only the second woman amongst all the Commonwealth realms — both previous and contemporary to the time — to assume the equivalent office, after Elmira Minita Gordon, who was in 1981 appointed Governor-General of Belize.


As Governor General-Designate

In December 1983, it was announced from the Prime Minister's office that Trudeau had put forward Sauvé's name to Buckingham Palace as his recommendation on who should succeed Edward Schreyer as Governor General. In the national media, the reception was generally positive, with Sauvé's elegance, refined nature, and bilingualism viewed as an asset to such a posting, despite speculation regarding her ability to remain non-partisan, as would be expected of the vicereine.[9] However, by 15 January of the following year Sauvé resigned as an MP, and thus as Speaker, and two days later she was hospitalised; rumours circulated that it was due to cancer, but the official story was that the she had contracted a respiratory virus, which was further complicated by an allergy to antibiotics.[10]

Still, Queen Elizabeth II, by commission under the royal sign-manual and signet, approved on 28 January 1984 the recommendation of Trudeau to appoint Sauvé as her representative. However, the latter remained in hospital, and her illness only worsened, leading colleagues to believe that she would die, and the Canadian Press and CBC to draft preliminary obituaries.[5] Sauvé did recover, and was released from care on 3 March, though the illness had delayed her installation ceremony, which had been scheduled to take place that month. Sauvé remained secretive about the exact nature of the illness, and did not pay attention to rumours that she had developed Hodgkin's lymphoma, stating in interviews that it was a private matter, and that she was well enough to uphold her responsibilities.[10]

As Governor General

Sauvé was on 14 May 1984 sworn in as Governor General in a ceremony in the Senate chamber, during which Trudeau said: "It is right and proper that Her Majesty should finally have a woman representative here," though stessing that the Queen had not appointed Sauvé simply because she was a woman.[11] Almost immediately, Sauvé made it clear that she would use her time as vicereine to promote issues surrounding youth and world peace, as well as that of national unity.

The Mulroneys with President and Mrs. Reagan in Quebec City, with Jeanne Sauvé conspicuously absent

The Governor General kept up to date with Cabinet papers and met every two weeks with her successive prime ministers. She would not speak openly about her relationship with these individuals, but there was reported friction between Sauvé and Brian Mulroney, whom she'd appointed as her chief executive advisor in 1984. It was speculated that Sauvé disapproved of the way Mulroney elevated the stature of his office with more presidential trappings and aura, and his insistence that he alone greet American President Ronald Reagan upon his arrival at Quebec City for the colloquially dubbed "Shamrock Summit" was taken by the media as a snub against Sauvé,[12] who, as the head of state's direct representative, would otherwise have welcomed another head of state to Canada.

She did, however, greet a numbers of Canada's Royal Family, including the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; The Queen Mother; Prince Andrew, and Sarah, Duchess of York. Prince Edward met with Sauvé at Rideau Hall on 4 June 1988 to present the Governor General with royal Letters Patent permitting the federal viceroy to exercise the Queen's powers in respect of the granting of heraldic arms in Canada, leading to the eventual creation of the Canadian Heraldic Authority,[13] of which Sauvé was the first head. Among foreign visitors welcomed by Sauvé were King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, King Hussein of Jordan, Pope John Paul II, Secretary-General of the United Nations Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, French President François Mitterrand, Chinese President Li Xiannian, Romanian President Nicolae Ceauşescu, Mother Teresa, and, eventually, President Reagan. A number of these state visits were reciprocated when Sauvé travelled to represent the Queen in Italy, the Vatican, the People's Republic of China, Thailand, France, Uruguay, and Brazil.

Also in her capacity as vicereine, in 1986 Sauvé accepted on behalf of the "People of Canada" the Nansen Medal, and, two years later, opened the XV Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta. But, one of her favourite events that she hosted was the annual Christmas party for the Ottawa Boys & Girls Club and its French-language counterpart, the Patro d'Ottawa; the children came to Rideau Hall to visit with Santa and attended a lunch in the Tent Room, which Sauvé personally hosted and wore a paper party hat to celebrate the special occasion.[14]

Ironically, as with the speculations about Sauvé's standing in protocol vis-a-vis Mulroney, the Governor General herself was accused of elevating her position above its traditional place; she was criticised for her own presidentialisation of the viceregal post, with pundits at the time saying she occupied "Republican Hall".[15] For instance, it was revealed that Sauvé's staff had meddled in Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Frederick Johnson's plans to host a dinner at Government House, at which the Governor General was to be a guest. Further, municipal event organisers were told that singing of the Royal Anthem was not allowed and the loyal toast to the Queen was to be replaced with a toast to the Governor General, all of which not only disregarded precedent but also grated on prairie sensitivities.[16][17]

In her final address as vicereine, at Christmas, 1989, some of Sauvé's words were perceived as veiled warning about the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and she was criticised for this suspected breach of neutrality. The Premier of Newfoundland at the time, Clyde Wells, said it was "inappropriate for the Crown to be intruding in political affairs that way," and Bill Dawson, a law professor at the University of Western Ontario, described Sauvé's use of the word "pact" as "injudicious." Sauvé, though, always held that she had been speaking about Canadian unity in general, and not the Meech Lake Accord in particular, or any side of the debate around it.[18]


During her time as vicereine, Sauvé established in commemoration of her state visit to Brazil the Governor General Jeanne Sauvé Fellowship, awarded each year to a Brazilian graduate student in Canadian studies. She also created two awards for students entering the field of special education and subsequently created the Sauvé Foundation, which was dedicated to the cause of youth excellence in Canada. For sporting endeavours, Sauvé formed the Jeanne Sauvé Trophy, for the world cup championship in women's field hockey, and the Jeanne Sauvé Fair Play Award, to recognise national amateur athletes who best demonstrate fair play and non-violence in sport. Further, Sauvé encouraged a safer society in Canada by establishing the Governor General's Award for Safety in the Workplace.

Though there was some criticism in the final evaluations of her performance as Governor General, mostly for a perceived aloofness and sense of self-importance — which her closing of the Rideau Hall estate to the public came to symbolise[19] — Sauvé was also described as having been elegant, charming, and a person who could mingle well with common Canadians — especially children — while also maintaining a sense of the dignity of state.[14] She was said to have enjoyed both entertaining and ceremony, two necessary parts of the role of the Queen's representative. However, she was pointed out unfavourably by Canadian monarchists for her republican attitudes,[20] as illustrated in her stated opinion that the monarchy should be abolished.[n 1]


After departing Rideau Hall for the last time as governor general in 1990, Sauvé and her husband returned to Montreal, where she continued to work with the Sauvé Foundation. Only two years later, however, Maurice died, and Sauvé followed him on 26 January 1993, after a long battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma.[14] The couple were both interred in Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal, and, one year following her death, Canada Post issued a postage stamp bearing an image of Sauvé.

Titles, styles, honours, and arms


Viceregal styles of
Jeanne Sauvé
Crest of the Governor-General of Canada.svg
Reference style Her Excellency The Right Honourable
Son Excellence la très honorable
Spoken style Your Excellency
Votre Excellence
Alternative style Ma'am
  • 26 April 1922 – 24 September 1948: Miss/Mademoiselle Jeanne Benoît
  • 24 September 1948 – 27 November 1972: Madam/Madame Jeanne Sauvé
  • 27 November 1972 – 14 May 1984: The Honourable Jeanne Sauvé
  • 14 May 1984 – 29 January 1990: Her Excellency The Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada
  • 29 January 1990 – 26 January 1993: The Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé

Sauvé's style and title as Governor General was, in full, and in English: Her Excellency The Right Honourable Jeanne Mathilde Sauvé, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada, and in French: Son Excellence la très honorable Jeanne Mathilde Sauvé, chancelière et compagnon principal de l'ordre du Canada, chancelière et commandante de l'ordre du mérite militaire, gouverneur générale et commandante en chef du Canada. It should be noted that, for Sauvé, Commander-in-Chief was strictly a title, and not a position that she held; the actual commander-in-chief (who can also be, and is, called such) is perpetually the monarch of Canada.[21]

In her post-viceregal life, Sauvé's style and title was, in English: The Right Honourable Jeanne Mathilde Sauvé, Companion of the Order of Canada, Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Member of the Order of New Brunswick, and in French: la très honorable Jeanne Mathilde Sauvé, compagnon de l'ordre du Canada, commandante de l'ordre du mérite militaire.


Ribbon bars of Jeanne Sauvé
Foreign honours
  • France 1989: Médaille de la Chancellerie des universités de Paris

Honorary military appointments

Honorary degrees

Honorific eponyms

Geographic locations


See also


  1. ^ Sauvé said: "Mais absolument, on devrait abolir la monarchie au Canada!": "But absolutely, the Monarchy must be abolished in Canada!"[20]


  1. ^ a b Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Role and Responsibilities > Former Governors General > The Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Privy Council Office (30 October 2008). "Information Resources > Historical Alphabetical List since 1867 of Members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada > S –". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 5 March 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c "CBC Digital Archives > Politics > Federal Politics > Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts > Encouraged to Achieve". CBC. 9 February 2005. Retrieved 5 March 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "CBC Digital Archives > Politics > Federal Politics > Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts > Journalist Jeanne". CBC. 24 July 2006. Retrieved 5 March 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c Woods, Shirley (1 January 1987). Her Excellency Jeanne Sauvé. Halifax, Nova Soctia: Formac Publishing Company Ltd.. ISBN 978-0887801495. 
  6. ^ a b "CBC Digital Archives > Politics > Federal Politics > Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts > Working Twice as Hard". CBC. 9 February 2005. Retrieved 5 March 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "CBC Digital Archives > Politics > Federal Politics > Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts > Speaker Sauvé 'still learning'". CBC. 14 February 2005. Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  8. ^ "CBC Digital Archives > Politics > Federal Politics > Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts > Cleaning House". CBC. 14 February 2005. Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  9. ^ "CBC Digital Archives > Politics > Federal Politics > Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts > Looking forward to another 'first'". CBC. 24 July 2006. Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  10. ^ a b "CBC Digital Archives > Politics > Federal Politics > Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts > Illness delays ceremony". CBC. 24 July 2006. Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  11. ^ "CBC Digital Archives > Politics > Federal Politics > Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts > 'A welcome evolution'". CBC. 24 July 2006. Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  12. ^ "[of a governor general]". [Journal]. 1 July 1985.
  13. ^ "The Royal Heraldry Society of Canada > About the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada". Royal Heraldry Society of Canada. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  14. ^ a b c "CBC Digital Archives > Politics > Federal Politics > Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts > Warm memories of a friend". CBC. 9 February 2005. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  15. ^ Boyce, Peter (2008). written at Sydney. "The Senior Realms of the Queen". Canadian Monarchist News (Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada) Autumn 2009 (30): p. 9. October 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  16. ^ Jackson, Michael (2002), "Political Paradox: The Lieutenant Governor in Saskatchewan", in Leeson, Howard A., Saskatchewan Politics Into the 21st Century, Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center 
  17. ^ Gardner, Dan (17 February 2009). "A stealth campaign against the Queen". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  18. ^ "CBC Digital Archives > Politics > Federal Politics > Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts > A veiled Meech reference?". CBC. 11 February 2005. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  19. ^ "CBC Digital Archives > Politics > Federal Politics > Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts > Closing off Rideau Hall". CBC. 24 January 2006. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  20. ^ a b Toffoli, Gary. "The Hnatyshyn Years". Monarchy Canada (Toronto: Fealty Enterprises) (Spring 1995). Retrieved 19 March 2009. 
  21. ^ Victoria (29 March 1867), Constitution Act, 1867, III.15, Westminster: Queen's Printer,, retrieved 15 January 2009 
  22. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Order of Canada". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 4 March 2009. 
  23. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Order of Military Merit". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 4 March 2009. 
  24. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Honours > Insignia Worn by the Governor General". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 4 March 2009. 
  25. ^ "HONORARY DEGREES". Queen's University. 15 December 2008. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  26. ^ "Undergraduate Calendar > 21. HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT > 21.4 HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENTS". University of Regina. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  27. ^ "Friends of the University of Alberta > Scholarships and Prizes". University of Alberta. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  28. ^ "Latest news about the metro construction". Correspondance (Montreal: L'Agence métropolitaine de transport) 1 (5): 2. July 2003. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  29. ^ "Caisse populaire gives Wolves season passes". Sudbury Northern Life. 27 October 2008. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  30. ^ "Thirty-seven elementary schools receive highest rankings on Fraser Institute annual report card. Stratford – Jeanne Sauvé one of 37.". Exchange Magazine for Business (Waterloo: Exchange Business Communications Inc.). Retrieved 7 March 2007. 
  31. ^ Jeanne Sauvé Family Services (2 November 2008). "Services familiaux Jeanne Sauvé Family Services". Press release. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  32. ^ Queen's Printer for Canada (16 February 2010). "The Governor General to Open the Jeanne Sauvé Lecture Series in Montreal". Press release. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  33. ^ a b c "Arms of Past and Present Canadian Governors General > SAUVÉ, The Rt. Hon. Jeanne, CC, CMM, COM, CD". Royal Heraldry Society of Canada. Retrieved 5 March 2009. 
  34. ^ "Arms of Past and Present Canadian Governors General". Royal Heraldry Society of Canada. Retrieved 12 March 2009. 

External links

Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
New electoral district
Member of Parliament for Laval-des-Rapides
1979 – 1984
Succeeded by
Raymond Garneau
Preceded by
Jean-Léo Rochon
Member of Parliament for Ahuntsic
1973 – 1979
Succeeded by
Electoral district abolished
20th Ministry - First Government of Pierre Trudeau
Cabinet Posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
Otto Lang (acting) Minister of Communications
5 December 1975 – 3 June 1979
David MacDonald
Jack Davis Minister of the Environment
8 September 1974 – 4 December 1975
Roméo LeBlanc
n/a Minister of State for Science and Technology
27 November 1972 – 7 September 1974
Political offices
Preceded by
James Jerome
Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons
14 April 1980 – 15 January 1984
Succeeded by
Cyril Lloyd Francis


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