Adrienne Clarkson

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The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Louise Clarkson

In office
October 7, 1999 – September 27, 2005
Preceded by Roméo LeBlanc
Succeeded by Michaëlle Jean

Born February 10, 1939
Hong Kong
Spouse John Ralston Saul
Profession Journalist
Religion Anglican

Adrienne Louise Clarkson (Chinese: 伍冰枝; pinyin: Wǔ Bīngzhī, Hakka: Ńg Pên-kî), PC, CC, CMM, COM, CD, LL.D (born February 10, 1939) is an accomplished Canadian journalist. From October 7, 1999 to September 27, 2005 she served as the 26th Governor General of Canada (representing Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada): she was the first Chinese Canadian and second woman to hold this position, the first being Jeanne Sauvé.


[edit] Early life and career

Clarkson is of Taishan, Guangdong, China ancestry, being a Hakka born in Hong Kong to Australian-Chinese businessman William Poy (伍英才 Pinyin: Wǔ Yīngcái), and Ethel Poy. Sources described William Poy as a decorated WWII veteran.

Clarkson's paternal grandfather (伍培 Pinyin: Wǔ Péi) migrated to Australia and opened a general store in Chiltern, Victoria called "Willie Ah Poy Fruiterer and Confectioner" (Note "Ah Poy" was his name in the vocative based on the Taishanese pronunciation). His eldest son William was later sent back to Taishan and made his way to Hong Kong. There he married and worked with his father for the Canadian government. Clarkson claims that one of her earliest memories is of hiding in her Hong Kong basement during the invasion by the Japanese in 1941. It was through his government connection that William gained his family the opportunity to come to Canada in 1942; since Clarkson's father was a British subject, he was a part of a prisoner-of-war exchange with the Japanese Imperial Forces. The "special circumstances" clause in the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 made it possible for few selected Chinese to enter Canada during the Second World War. <ref>Dec 23rd 2003 CTV News article</ref>

When Clarkson's grandfather emigrated to Australia in the late nineteenth century the officials asked him, in English, what his name was. Clarkson's grandfather said, "Ng Wui Poi." And the officials took the first name, Poi, as his last name, and so the family was named Poy.<ref>Adrienne Clarkson. Heart Matters: a memoir p.32 ISBN 0670065463</ref>

Much has been made of Clarkson's immigrant/refugee status as well as her "humble roots." Clarkson's detractors point out that in actuallity she was born into the Hong Kong elite and lived in a house filled with servants. When the family came to Canada their initial soundings were far less glamorous but they were by no means poor.

Clarkson studied at Ottawa public schools until graduating from Lisgar Collegiate Institute in 1956, and then enrolled at 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. Her post-graduate studies were undertaken at the Sorbonne.

She began working on her Master's degree in 1962, with a thesis on the poems of George Meredith. The following year, she married Stephen Clarkson, a University of Toronto political science professor, and the couple had three daughters: Kyra Clarkson was born 1969, and in 1971 the couple had twin daughters Blaise and Chloe. At the age of nine months Chloe died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. However, Blaise Clarkson went on to become a University of Toronto medical student, and Kyra, a Northern Secondary School grad, is currently an architect with the firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien, living in a Brooklyn Heights neighbourhood in New York. Adrienne and Stephen divorced in 1975, with Stephen being awarded full custody of the two surviving children. After the divorce, the children became estranged from their mother. Though the estrangement was long-standing and well-publicized, the daughters have since reconciled with their mother. The late Christina McCall, Stephen Clarkson's second wife adopted the two daughters.

A young Adrienne Clarkson hosting The Fifth Estate during the 1970s.

Adrienne is well known from her work in broadcasting, having hosted and produced several shows for the CBC between 1964-1982. After being introduced by a college friend to the producers of Take Thirty, an afternoon variety show, her first position with the Crown Corporation was as a freelance book reviewer. After less than a year in this capacity she was promoted to co-host, becoming one of the first members of a visible minority with a prominent position in Canadian television. She remained with Take Thirty for a decade, during which time she also branched into print journalism, becoming a regular contributor to publications including Maclean's and Chatelaine. Clarkson also wrote and published her own romantic fiction novels: A Lover More Condoling in 1968, and Hunger Trace in 1970. Beyond these, her non-fiction book True to You in My Fashion: A Woman Talks to Men About Marriage, a collection of interviews with men on the subject of divorce, was published in 1971 (during which time her first marriage had hit a hard patch).

In 1974, Clarkson began her own public affairs television show Adrienne at Large. The show was not particularly successful and lasted less than four months. For Clarkson, the series allowed her to travel outside of Canada; she recorded segments for the show in foreign countries like South Africa (where she interviewed Nadine Gordimer and Helen Suzman), and her native Hong Kong.

The CBC created the hard journalism program The Fifth Estate in 1975 as a means of meeting Canadian content requirements. Clarkson co-hosted the show with Warner Troyer for the first season, but due to persistent problems between the two, Troyer left the series at the end of the first season, leaving Clarkson to host alone thereafter.

In 1983, after winning several ACTRA awards, Clarkson ended her job with The Fifth Estate. Shortly afterwards, Premier William Davis appointed her the Agent General for Ontario in France. In this role she promoted the province in several European countries and acted as a cultural liaison between Ontario and France. She left this position in 1987 to become President and Publisher of McClelland and Stewart, at a time when the publisher was in financial difficulty. Clarkson was not successful at improving the company's financial problems, and was highly unpopular with employees. After several protest resignations, Clarkson herself resigned after 18 months. She maintains the imprint Adrienne Clarkson Books with McClelland and Stewart.

Clarkson then opted to return to television, hosting Adrienne Clarkson Summer Festival in the summer of 1988. The series was popular enough to be picked up and repackaged as Adrienne Clarkson Presents, an arts show which was critically acclaimed, but which never received high ratings.

In 1992 she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Her citation read:

"One of our best-known media personalities, she has hosted more than three thousand five hundred television programs in one of the most respected careers in Canadian broadcasting history. She also served as the hard-working and successful Agent General for Ontario in France. She is a dedicated patron of the arts, journalism and many charitable organizations including the Kidney Foundation, Horizons of Canada and P.E.N. International."<ref>Adrienne Clarkson's Order of Canada citation</ref>

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 Gémeaux Award (the French-Language equivalent of a Gemini) for Adrienne Clarkson Presents.

Her precise diction and sometimes haughty demeanor has been the subject of satire, most famously in the CBC Radio series Double Exposure, where co-creator Linda Cullen mimicked Clarkson with the line, "I'm Adrienne Clarkson, and you're not" (derived from Chevy Chase's early Saturday Night Live refrain).

Throughout the 1990's there was much speculation that Clarkson would soon be given a high level appointment. This was finally realized in 1995 when Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and then Heritage Minister Michel Dupuy appointed her to the chair of the board of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and later, to the Canadian War Museum as well, all while she continued to host her show.<ref>Department of Heritage Press Release Nov 7th 1995</ref> It was during Clarkson's time that the War Museum announced the decision to build the impressive building which now houses its collection.

She married philosopher John Ralston Saul on 31 July, 1999. The couple had lived together for 15 years before marrying.

Her brother is retired Toronto plastic surgeon Dr Neville Poy. Her sister-in-law is Senator Vivienne Poy.

[edit] Governor General

On October 7, 1999 Adrienne Clarkson was sworn in as the twenty-sixth Governor General of Canada, after being appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, Canada's Monarch, on the advice of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Clarkson was the first visible minority Canadian Governor General, the second female, and the first without a military or political background. She was also the first (and thus far only) Governor General to be awarded the Order of Canada prior to taking office. Clarkson is an honorary member of the Royal Military College of Canada club.

Following the terrorist attacks United States on September 11, 2001, Governor General Clarkson praised Operation Yellow Ribbon, saying "communities across the country selflessly opened their homes and hearts to stranded air travellers." Chrétien and U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci would also do similar. On September 14, 2001, the three would later stand together on Parliament Hill during a memorial service in honour of the victims of the attack, at which over 100,000 attended – the largest single vigil ever seen in Canada's capital.

As Governor General she acted as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces, in the Queen's name. In this capacity she visited the battle group aiding the invasion of Afghanistan in 2002. During her last days in office, Clarkson was given a large farewell ceremony by the Armed Forces; the first governor general in Canada's history to be given a farewell ceremony. She has been widely praised by many Canadians for being the first Governor General to take the role of Commander-in-Chief seriously, and has also been credited for helping to boost Canadian pride in the Forces.

Clarkson was asked, and agreed, to remain in office for another year beyond the traditional, but not official, five year period, to provide stability as the country faced potential constitutional difficulties arising from a minority government; other past Governors General have done similar in such circumstances, two being Roland Michener and Georges Vanier. This decision however, was met with mixed feelings across the country.<ref>The Globe and Mail</ref>

On July 23, 2005 Clarkson was inducted as an honorary member to the Kainai Chieftainship, during a traditional ceremony held at Red Crow Park, near Standoff, Alberta. After the ceremony she was adopted into the Blood Tribe with the name of "Grandmother of Many Nations". She was the first Governor General since Edward Schreyer, in 1984, to be made an honorary chief, and only the third woman to be inducted since the creation of the Chieftainship.

Clarkson was admitted to hospital on July 8, 2005, to have a pacemaker installed.<ref>[1]</ref> The day following, a notice posted on the website of the Governor General said the operation was successful and she was resting in an undisclosed hospital in Toronto.

Shortly after this surgery, the Prime Minister's office confirmed that they were in the process of selecting a recommendation for the next Governor General. Haitian-born CBC broadcaster Michaëlle Jean was named as Clarkson's replacement on August 4, 2005 by Prime Minister Paul Martin. Jean replaced Clarkson on September 27, 2005.

Following tradition Clarkson and Saul were to have planted two ceremonial oak trees to mark the end of her term in office on September 26, 2005, but this was cancelled due to bad weather.<ref>[2]</ref> That morning she attended a celebration at Parliament Hill in which Members of the House of Commons thanked her for her work. The Prime Minister personally expressed his thanks to her for remaining in office an extra year. At this ceremony, Clarkson was presented with the Flag of the Governor General which flew at parliament when she was in attendance.

[edit] Controversies

As Clarkson was one of Canada's most visible and well-known Governors General, her high profile caused her to be at the centre of a number of public controversies during her term, something few of her predecessors had to deal with.

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 increased almost 200%; the budget for 2003 was estimated 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.

Beside the Queen during her visit to Canada in 2005.

In late 2003 she undertook a nineteen day circumpolar "northern identity" tour, paying state visits to Russia, Finland, and Iceland, with fifty other Canadians prominent in various fields. This trip 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 2005, less than two weeks after her term as Governor General came to an end, Clarkson publicly criticised the federal government of Jean Chrétien for not defending the office, and reaffirmed that she had been asked by the Department of Foreign Affairs to take the trip in the first place. [3]

In 2004, Clarkson and her office were once again under scrutiny, 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 also attending 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 protesters. She was on a goodwill tour of a poor area of the city; however, the protesters argued that her visit was nothing more than a publicity stunt to try and gain some of her lost popular support to get her time in office extended. This is all despite the fact that she and her husband visit and support developing communities across Canada, many times without the glare of the television camera. In November 2004 it was announced that Clarkson's budget would be cut by ten percent, despite the fact that it has been parliament itself that had approved her budget each year.

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 a 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. Further confusion was created when Rideau Hall informed the public that the Governor General was also to attend an audience of the Queen at Sandringham House. 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 were again questions over Clarkson's spending after it was reported she intended to make official visits to Spain and The Netherlands to attend the state funeral of the victims of the Madrid terrorist bombings and the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. However, Prime Minister Paul Martin had asked that she and her husband participate in the VE Day celebrations in the Netherlands and Moscow.<ref>[4]</ref><ref>[5]</ref>

There was also some controversy during Remembrance Day ceremonies. Traditionally, the Governor General places the first wreath during the ceremony on behalf of the "People of Canada". Under Clarkson, both she and her husband placed the wreath. This troubled some commentators, although they later got used to the change. This was discontinued by Michaëlle Jean on November 11th 2005.

One final controversy took place in the final days of Clarkson's term. She decided to attend the swearing in of her successor, Mme Jean. This was the first time in over 100 years that a Governor General attended the swearing in of his/her successor.

[edit] Legacy

Image:Arms of Adrienne Clarkson.jpg
Clarkson's personal arms

Despite criticism, Clarkson and her husband travelled across Canada and met more Canadians than any other Governor General in Canadian history. She went to Kosovo to meet with Canadian troops, spent Christmas with members of the Armed Forces in the Persian Gulf on a Canadian destroyer, and spent New Year's Day with Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. Unlike many other political entities Clarkson also wrote most of her own speeches, which were noted for being intellectual and yet approachable. Clarkson's tenure was also notable for her patronage of the arts. Many credit Clarkson for being the first relevant Governor General since Vincent Massey in the 1950s, or Roland Michener in the 1970s.

Early during Clarkson's time she created the Order of Merit of the Police Forces. Queen Elizabeth approved the Order in October 2000 and it was announced in March 2001. <ref></ref>. The first investiture took place on March 10th 2002 <ref></ref>. Such an Order had been suggested to Rideau Hall for nearly a decade <ref></ref>

On March 10, 2005, Clarkson announced that she would create a new trophy for women's hockey in Canada. On September 14, 2005 she announced that the new "Clarkson Cup" would be created by artist Beth Biggs of Iqaluit, Nunavut, along with the assistance of students from the Nunavut Arctic College. In July of 2006, the Cup was finished, although details of how the competition will be arranged and the trophy awarded have not yet been announced. The Stanley Cup, the equivalent trophy for men's hockey, was donated in 1892 by a predecessor of Clarkson's, Lord Stanley.

Much of her self imposed mandate was to bring attention to Northern Canada. On September 15th 2005 she announced the creation of the Governor General's Northern Medal. This will be awarded annually to a citizen whose actions and achievements have contributed to the evolution and constant reaffirmation of the Canadian North as part of the national identity.<ref>[6]</ref>

Clarkson's successor, Michaëlle Jean, recognised Clarkson as having "infused the office with a new energy", for "promot[ing] artists and their achievements from across Canada", and for her "close work with aboriginal communities".

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 were 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.

However, in her own word, she does not have much detach from her Chinese root, it is simply because her family (counted back two generations) has not been in China. She considers as herself mainly as Canadian.

[edit] Post vice-regal career

Clarkson and Saul purchased a new home in Toronto's The Annex district and took possession at the end of September 2005. Clarkson hinted she will be working with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship now that she has been dismissed as Governor General.

After leaving Rideau Hall Clarkson signed a deal with Penguin Canada to publish her memoirs in two books. The first book, Heart Matters (ISBN 9780670065462), was published in September 2006. This makes Clarkson the third former Governor General to release an autobiography, the first being Field Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis and the second being Massey, who released What's Past is Prologue: the Memoirs of the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, C. H. in 1963.

In Heart Matters Clarkson outlined her childhood in Ottawa, and her career in the CBC. However, the second half of the book covered her time as governor general, and contained her own positive views of Jean Chrétien, and negative views of Paul Martin. She also expressed her opinion that in future the name put forward to the Queen for appointment as governor general should be voted on in the House of Commons.

The book was met with mixed reviews; notably, etiquette experts in the United Kingdom chided Clarkson for her condescending criticisms of the Queen's behaviour at a dinner party, and of the Queen Mother for having used different china settings throughout a formal meal, calling Clarkson "prissy."<ref>Graham, David; Toronto Star: Clarkson disses the Queen: In new book, ex-GG gets all haughty about royal manners but experts say she misses the point; October 3, 2006</ref> Rex Murphy deemed Clarkson as hypocritical for claiming a governor general must adhere to tradition and discretion, all in a book that reveals intimate, and judgemental details about certain personages, and released mere months after she left the office.<ref>Murphy, Rex; Globe and Mail: Adrienne Clarkson: the personal and the political; September 23, 2006]</ref> Canadian monarchists condemned her suggested alterations to the selection process for the Governor General, claiming that an apolitical post should not be filled in a political manner; however, Maclean's supported her call for an elected nominee for governor general.<ref>Editorial; Maclean's: It's time to vote for the governor general; September 25, 2006</ref>

In October, 2006, during an interview with Don Newman on CBC Newsworld, Clarkson stated that she felt that while the Queen remained popular with Canadians, the Governor General was the direct representative of the Crown, not of the Queen, and was therefore Canada's legal head of state; a theory contrary to Eugene Forsey, the Government of Canada itself, and numerous others, but inline with Edward McWhinney.

[edit] Religion

A member of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene (Toronto), Clarkson is a devout Anglican, as is her entire family going back five generations. Her uncle was a Priest in the Anglican Church in Hong Kong. Clarkson attended Trinity College because it was an Anglican institution. While there she casually dated divinity student Michael Peers who would later become an Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. This friendship has been maintained over the years and Peers presided over Clarkson's marriage to Saul as well as officiating at her installation as Governor General and presided over the funerals of both her parents. Clarkson is also credited for returning prayer to the installation ceremony, which had been removed when Romeo LeBlanc was installed in 1995. <ref></ref>

Clarkson was admired by the faithful for being open about her faith during her time in Rideau Hall, although she is said to be saddened by the fact that no Canadian youth ever questioned her about her faith during her tenure as GG. Her coat of arms includes several religious elements. Notably, the tigers wear a badge based on the one granted to the Anglican Church of Canada in 1995. It also includes a Latin motto translating to "May Only The Truth Be Spoken, may only the truth be heard". In a December 2005 interview with the Anglican Journal she is quoted as saying that the point she wanted to make with these parts of their heraldic arms was that "I am an Anglican and that is part of my life; that I really feel at home in the Anglican Communion". <ref>This quote is taken from the Anglican Journal. Vol 131. No. 10, December 2005 page 10. This interview is accessible online at</ref> In this same interview she criticizes conservatives for creating what she calls the "deep divide" in the Anglican church regarding homosexuality.

Clarkson was also noted for visiting Anglican Churches around Canada on her many visits, saying that she enjoyed seeing how the church fit in communities in all parts of Canada. Her public faith, like much of her term, had its run-ins with controversy. She took particular criticism when she was seen taking communion in a Catholic Church instead of an Anglican one. <ref></ref> <ref></ref>

[edit] Titles and honours

[edit] Shorthand titles

[edit] Honours

[edit] Awards

[edit] Awards won

  • (1974) Actra Award
  • (1982) Actra Award
  • (1993) Gemini Award Best Host in a Light Information, Variety or Performing Arts Program or Series for Adrienne Clarkson Presents
  • (1995) Gemeaux Award Meilleur spécial des arts de la scène for Peau, chair et os shown within Adrienne Clarkson Presents.

[edit] Award nominations

  • (1992) Gemini Award: Best Host in a Light Information, Variety or Performing Arts Program or Series for Adrienne Clarkson Presents
  • (1993) Gemini Award: Best Performing Arts Program for Adrienne Clarkson Presents - shared with Gordon Stewart
  • (1994) Gemini Award: Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program for Adrienne Clarkson Presents
  • (1994) Gemini Award: Best Host in a Lifestyle Information, Variety or Performing Arts Program or Series for Adrienne Clarkson Presents
  • (1995) Gemini Award: Best Performing Arts Program for Adrienne Clarkson Presents
  • (1998) Gemini Award: Best Performing Arts Program or Series, or Arts Documentary Program for Adrienne Clarkson Presents: Black and White to Colour: The Making of "The English Patient"
  • (1998) Gemini Award: Best Performing Arts Program or Series, or Arts Documentary Program for Adrienne Clarkson Presents<ref>[8] awards database. Criteria was Search by persons name. All Award Shows. Adrienne Clarkson.</ref>

[edit] See also

[edit] Honorary Degrees

[edit] Footnotes

<references />

Preceded by:
Roméo LeBlanc
Governor General of Canada
Succeeded by:
Michaëlle Jean
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