Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario's Incoming LG Says Environment, Culture Close to Her Heart

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario's Incoming LG Says Environment, Culture Close to Her Heart

Article excerpt

Incoming LG says environment close to her heart


TORONTO - Even though they may not always see eye-to-eye on some environmental issues, Elizabeth Dowdeswell said Friday she's happy that Prime Minister Stephen Harper tapped her to be Ontario's next lieutenant-governor.

"Well, I cannot read the prime minister's mind, but I'm delighted that he did pick me," said the future vice-regal.

The veteran civil servant and environmentalist, who's also served as undersecretary general of the United Nations, was part of a government-appointed panel that concluded Alberta's oilsands may be a big threat to the environment.

So it came as a surprise to some that the pro-oilsands prime minister would select her as Ontario's next vice-regal.

Harper values her broad range of experience in Canada and internationally, she said, which includes deputy minister of culture and youth in Saskatchewan, former assistant deputy minister of Environment Canada and the first woman to head the UN Environment Program.

Ontario's two top jobs will both be occupied by women, as the province's first elected woman premier was sworn in on Tuesday. Dowdeswell's official start date as lieutenant-governor hasn't been announced.

"I think it's very important for our young people, our girls and boys, to have role models that fully embrace all members of society," she said.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said she met Dowdeswell when she was a trustee at the Toronto District School Board, before she entered politics.

"She's very, very intelligent and I'm very happy with this decision," Wynne said in French.

Born in northern Ireland, the 69-year-old moved to rural Saskatchewan with her large family at a child. Dowdeswell started as a home economics teacher and moved up to deputy minister of culture and youth.

But she still makes her own clothes. In fact, her creations -- a black collarless jacket and patterned skirt -- were on display Friday as she took to the podium at Queen's Park with a beaming Lt.-Gov. David Onley by her side.

Still basking in the glow of her appointment, Dowdeswell said she wants to take time to listen to Ontarians and their concerns before deciding on what her priorities will be. …

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