Léger, Jules

Jules Léger

b. 4 Apr 1913, St-Anicet, Québec
d. 22 Nov 1980, Ottawa, Ontario

Title: Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada = Gouverneur général et Commandant en chef du Canada
Term: 14 Jan 1974 - 22 Jan 1979
Chronology: 5 Oct 1973, appointed by Commission under the Royal Sign Manual and Signet
  14 Jan 1974, oath of allegiance, oath of office and oath of Keeper of the Great Seal of Canada taken, Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, Ontario [1]
  22 Jan 1979, termination of appointment with the installation of a successor

After studies at Collège de Valleyfield and the Université de Montréal, Jules Léger completed a degree in law prior to receiving a doctorate from the Sorbonne in Paris in 1938. After working as a journalist, Léger joined the Department of External Affairs in 1940 and began a diverse diplomatic career. In 1953 he became Canada's Ambassador to Mexico. From 1954 to 1958 he was the Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs. In 1958 he was made Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council and Canadian representative to the Organization for European Economic Cooperation in Paris. He held posts as Ambassador to Italy (1962-1964) and France (1964-1968), where he won admiration for his sensitive handling of French policy towards Québec. Appointed under-secretary of state (1968-1972), he provided the administrative underpinning for Prime Minister Lester Pearson's foreign policy and the Trudeau government's policy on bilingualism and multiculturalism. Then he briefly served as the Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg (1973). Léger was installed as Governor General of Canada on 14 Jan 1974, but less than six months after taking office he suffered a stroke which impaired his speech and paralyzed his left arm. Although he regained a degree of health, he was thereafter aided by his wife, Gabrielle Carmel, who in 1976 and 1978 shared with him the long reading of the speech from the throne. In 1978 Léger became the first governor general to exercise all the powers delegated to the office by King George VI in 1947, supervising the transfer from Britain of the power to sign treaties and to accredit diplomats abroad. During Léger's term the country was divided by many acrimonious disputes over Québec separatism and the alienation of other regions.

[1] The New York Times. Jan. 15, 1974. P. 33.
[2] The Canadian encyclopedia: year 2000 edition. McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto.
Last updated on: 24 May 2010 22:28:51