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A historic first as Ontario’s new lieutenant governor is sworn in

Edith Dumont is the first francophone to serve as the King’s representative at Queen’s Park after her swearing in on Tuesday.
Nov. 15, 2023
Robert Benzie

Ontario’s new lieutenant-governor brings a certain je ne sais quoi to the viceregal role.

Edith Dumont is the first francophone to serve as the King’s representative at Queen’s Park after being sworn in on Tuesday in the legislature.

Dumont succeeds Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Ontario’s longest serving lieutenant-governor, who had been on the job since 2014.

A former vice-president at the Universite de l’Ontario francais in Toronto, Dumont was appointed to the role in August by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I, Edith Dumont, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles III, King of Canada, his heirs and successors,” Dumont told MPPs and invited guests, including high school students from across Ontario.

“It is with deep respect and gratitude that I accept the responsibility of representing His Majesty the King,” she said, speaking both English and French.

The province’s 30th lieutenant-governor -- and only the fourth woman to serve in the role -- said she plans to devote her term to promoting education and care of the elderly.

“Important accomplishments are always achieved collectively,” she said.

As is tradition, Dumont travelled for her investiture in a horse-drawn landau -- escorted by a mounted detachment of the Governor General’s Horse Guards -- from the Gardiner Museum around Queen’s Park Circle to the Ontario legislature.

Upon her arrival, which temporarily closed traffic on University Avenue, she was greeted on the steps of the legislature by Premier Doug Ford, Speaker Ted Arnott and Ontario Chief Justice Michael Tulloch, among other dignitaries.

“Her honour is a respected educator and community advocate, having worked as a special-education teacher, a principal and an executive,” Ford told the legislature after Tulloch performed the swearing in.

“Thank you for taking on this important endeavour for Ontario,” said the premier, who also had kind words for Dowdeswell, whose counsel he has sought on numerous occasions in his five years in office.

NDP Leader Marit Stiles said “today is an exciting milestone for Franco-Ontarians, who are seeing the very first Franco-Ontarian enter this important role.”

As the scent of sweetgrass filled the chamber following a blessing by Sally Gaikezheyongai, a Wolf Clan elder from Wikwemikong First Nation, the Centre d’excellence artistique de l’Ontario choir received two standing ovations from MPPs and guests.

With more than 600,000 francophones -- including at least 60,000 in Toronto, according to the most recent census -- Ontario has the largest French-speaking minority of any Canadian province.