Johnston had a long and distinguished academic career. After teaching law at Queen's and the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, he became dean of law at the UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO. At the age of 37, he became principal of MCGILL UNIVERSITY, where he served from 1979 to 1994 and gained a reputation as both an energetic administrator and a skilled fundraiser. In 1999, he was appointed president of the UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO, where he served until 2010. Throughout, he continued to be an active researcher and writer, publishing several books on corporate law, securities regulation, and information technology law. He received honorary doctorates from more than a dozen universities.
Johnston was highly active outside the university. He moderated the televised leaders' debates during the 1979 and 1984 federal elections, the 1985 Québec provincial election, and the 1987 Ontario provincial election. In the 1990s, he hosted two current events talk shows: The Editors on PBS and The World in Review on CBC Newsworld. He served on the boards of several major corporations, including CANADA TRUST, SEAGRAM, SOUTHAM, and Dominion Textile.
Diplomatic and discreet, Johnston was frequently called upon by both Liberal and Conservative governments to chair committees charged with making recommendations on difficult issues, including the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, the federal Information Highway Advisory Council, the National Broadband Task Force, and the federal Blue Ribbon Panel on Smart Communities.
In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen HARPER appointed Johnston as special advisor and asked him to draft terms of reference for a public inquiry into the relationship between former prime minister Brian MULRONEY and German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber. (After stepping down as prime minister, Mulroney had accepted between $225 000 and $300 000 in cash from Schreiber, who had once been a lobbyist for Airbus Industrie.) In his controversial recommendations, Johnston recommended a narrow scope for what became the Oliphant Commission. The commission could look into Schreiber's 1993 and 1994 payments to Mulroney, but not the purchase of Airbus aircraft by government-owned Air Canada while Mulroney was prime minister, an issue the RCMP had already investigated.
Johnston was named the next governor general on 8 July 2010, an appointment that was widely praised. He took office on 1 October 2010, replacing Michaëlle JEAN.
Author STEPHEN AZZI
Links to Other Sites
Governor General of Canada
The official website for the Governor General of Canada features biographies of current and former Governors General, a summary of official duties, and more.
David Johnston: Lawyer, academic, Canada's new GG
See an extensive career profile for David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. From the CBC website.