OTD: Governor General promises vast reforms

On today’s date in 1991, Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn delivered his throne speech, promising the House of Commons and Senate joint committees to study the Constitution of Canada, education, Indigenous affairs and Parliamentary reform.

The government, Hnatyshyn announced, would issue a set of proposals to amend the Constitution of Canada with the goal of remedying “regional and linguistic differences,” according to a story published by the Los Angeles Times a few days after the 1991 speech.

“A special parliamentary committee will then travel the length and breadth of Canada, discussing the proposals in public sessions with provincial legislators and native-Canadian groups. Five months after that, the lawmakers are to report back to Ottawa with a completed formula for getting Canada back on its feet,” reads the story, which added Hnatyshyn’s speech sparingly outlined then prime minister Brian Mulroney’s plan for constitutional reform.

“The immediate response to the vague pledges was disappointment, even anger.”


In 1995, Hnatyshyn was depicted on the Governor General’s Academic Medal.

With a bronze gilt, the medal’s obverse shows the right-facing conjoined busts of Hnatyshyn and his wife, Gerda. Inscribed is “GOUVERNEUR GÉNÉRAL – CANADA – GOVERNOR GENERAL” above and “RAMON JOHN HNATYSHYN – GERDA HNATYSHYN” below. The reverse illustrates the coat of arms of Hnatyshyn, who served as governor general between January 1990 and February 1995, with reeded edges on both sides.

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