Hike, some Great Big Sea among highlights of Julie Payettes first official NL visit

Hike, some Great Big Sea among highlights of Julie Payette\s first official NL visit
Governor-General Julie Payette leaves charitable groups guessing about her plans to work with them
Drizzle and cool temperatures didn’t dampen the pomp and ceremony this morning at Confederation Building as Governor General Julie Payette was officially welcomed to Newfoundland and Labrador.

This is Her Excellency’s first visit to the province in her new role and large crowds gathered on the steps of Confederation Building to take in the ceremony.

"This was in the ballroom at Rideau Hall, which is the most important room for Rideau Hall. This is where we welcome foreign visitors, it's where we swear in cabinet," Payette said at a ceremony at Government House about the 10-foot-tall Diamond Jubilee Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II that will be on loan for six months. 

Here is mighty Newfoundland and Labrador as seen from space. We look forward to our first official visit in the province tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/afjXndrcTP

She will participate in a tour of the Marine Institute and a hike of Signal Hill. A tree planting and public concert at 6:00 p.m.on the lawn of Government House is also on the agenda.

Payette's experience will come in handy as she tries out the new Hibernia Offshore operations simulator. She'll also witness youth from Eastern Edge Robotics test their remotely operated vehicles at the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources.

A number of non-profit groups such as St. John Ambulance and Scouts Canada are still waiting for the results of a review of the Governor-Generals activities to see whether Julie Payette will uphold tradition and start to work with their organizations, nearly one year after she was installed in the vice-regal position.

Payette's schedule is jam-packed while she is here in the province and highlights include receiving the honorary title of Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard and presenting a portrait that is on loan from Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

The situation is raising questions and a certain level of frustration among Canadian philanthropic organizations that have long relied on the patronage of governors-general to conduct their activities and recognize the contributions of their volunteers and workers.

"Instead of taking down Her Majesty, we decided to see if we could send her on a cross-Canada tour … starting of course with the most important province," Payette said with a grin.

A former astronaut and public speaker, Ms. Payette collects an annual salary of nearly $300,000. As Governor-General, she holds official functions that are key to Canadas parliamentary democracy, but governors-general have also traditionally worked with groups involved in a wide variety of non-profit sectors.

Since her installation on Oct. 2, 2017, Rideau Hall has been conducting a review of Ms. Payettes activities to find the best way for her to serve and evolve along with the Canadian population of today.

Members of the public are invited to join and Payette plans to use the opportunity to promote her new initiative, GGActive, which aims to promote healthy lifestyles and fitness to Canadians.

Our priority has been to develop an approach that is inclusive and dynamic, and new initiatives are under development, said Marie-Ève Létourneau, a spokeswoman for Rideau Hall. We will gladly share the results of these efforts as soon as we have finished consulting all of our partners.

Robert Finch, Dominion chairman of the Monarchist League, said he initially gave the benefit of the doubt to Ms. Payette, but feels the review is taking too long. He added it should be a no-brainer for her to act as honorary head of groups such as Scouts Canada, St. John Ambulance and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

The visit will wrap up in North West River at the Labrador Interpretation Centre where the Governor General will learn about Labrador's Indigenous history with the mayor.

There is growing concern about leaving these organizations in limbo, of not carrying out as many engagements as her predecessor, Mr. Finch said in an interview. I can certainly see the points of view of those who are upset because they want answers and they deserve answers and, one step further, they deserve the answer yes in asking her to continue as patron.

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.

The situation has left some groups wondering whether they will have to change their organizational structure as a result of the ongoing review of the Governor-Generals patronage activities.

For example, governors-general served as Scouts Canadas chief scout from 1910 to 2009, and since then have served as patron scout. However, the group is still waiting to see whether Ms. Payette will agree to serve in the honorary leadership role.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L.—Governor General Julie Payette is inviting people in St. John’s to join her on a hike of the Signal Hill National Historic Site today during her first official visit to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Governor-Generals role is currently pending as we await confirmation, said Scouts Canada spokesman John Petitti.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L.—Governor General Julie Payette is inviting people in St. John’s to join her on a hike of the Signal Hill National Historic Site today during her first official visit to Newfoundland and Labrador.

St. John Ambulance has recently written to Rideau Hall to ask Ms. Payette to serve as its prior in the hopes of continuing a tradition that goes back to 1946. The Order of St. John, which goes to Canadians involved in philanthropic activities, is part of the official Canadian honour system.

Payette is also expected to meet with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball today, and will be invested as honorary chief commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard.

We are currently awaiting a reply from the Chancellery and anticipate a positive response from Her Excellency and look forward to working with Her Excellency as we continue to improve the health, safety and quality of life of all Canadians, said Jerry Rankin, CEO of St. John Ambulance.

Payette is also expected to meet with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball today, and will be invested as honorary chief commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard.

Since its founding in 1929, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society has operated with successive governors-general serving as the organizations patron. For now, that position is vacant and the societys bylaws will have to be changed if Ms. Payette does not agree to take on the role.

Signal Hill overlooks the province’s capital city and was the site of St. John’s harbour defences from the 17th century to the Second World War.

The Society has been very excited about the appointment of Julie Payette, a distinguished former astronaut and engineer, whose advocacy for geographic and scientific literacy is consistent with our own mandate. An invitation was issued at the time of Her Excellencys installation but it is our understanding that a review of patronages is underway at Rideau Hall, said society spokeswoman Deborah Chapman.

Signal Hill overlooks the province’s capital city and was the site of St. John’s harbour defences from the 17th century to the Second World War.

Governors-general have also long been involved with the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, namely by awarding every two years the Governor-Generals Medals in Architecture. However, the group held the event in Winnipeg this year, with the medals awarded by Manitoba Lieutenant-Governor Janice Filmon.

The public is asked to meet at the Signal Hill Visitor Information Centre at 3:15 p.m. for the hike, which will last roughly an hour and 15 minutes.

We submitted a request that they be held at Rideau Hall this year as we normally do, and we were informed that it would not be possible for Her Excellency to accommodate us this year. No reason was given, the institutes president, Michael Cox, said.

Before this year, the Governor-Generals Medals in Architecture had been awarded at Rideau Hall every two years since 2002, except for one occasion in 2006 when the ceremony was held in Montreal by Quebecs then-lieutenant-governor, Lise Thibault.

Ms. Payette has traveled much of the country since her installation, but she is coming under fire for not planning to go to Manitoba in the first year of her mandate, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. Still, as part of an ongoing trip to Newfoundland, Ms. Payette was invested as the Honorary Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard on Thursday.

The Prime Ministers Office said Ms. Payettes achievements in her previous career are a testament to her hard work, discipline and passion.

The Governor-General identifies her own priorities. While the Governor-General is non-partisan and apolitical, the Prime Minister has an excellent working relationship with Ms. Payette and is proud of the work she has been doing to represent Canada here and abroad since she took office, said PMO spokeswoman Chantal Gagnon.

Mr. Finch of the Monarchist League said he understands that Ms. Payette is following in the footsteps of a predecessor, David Johnston, who kept a hectic pace in the position.

She is a difference person in that regard, but I only hope and assume she knew what comes with the position, he said.