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Jeanne Sauvé: ‘A welcome evolution’ says Pierre Trudeau

The Story

"It is right and proper that her Majesty should finally have a woman representative here," says Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in this television clip. At Jeanne Sauvé's investiture as Canada's first female governor general, Trudeau is remarking on the significance of this historic event. He can't help but ponder what it means for women's rights in Canada: "We are gathered today to celebrate a remarkable person, but also a welcome evolution of our society."At the same time, Trudeau is careful to stress that Sauvé wasn't chosen simply because it was time for Canada to have a female governor general. "In the opinion of all, you are the ideal candidate for the position," he tells Sauvé. 

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News Special
Broadcast Date: May 14, 1984
Speaker: Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Duration: 7:38

Did You know?

• Sauvé has said she was proud to be the first female governor general and called her appointment a magnificent breakthrough. In her investiture speech, she said she was following "in the footsteps of the multitude of women who... have served as the inspiration and, to a large degree, the artisans of this nation."
• Known for her love of fashion, Sauvé's outfit at her investiture was a real attention-grabber: a puffy Elizabethan-style coat and gown made of grey silk taffeta.

• Despite all of her groundbreaking achievements for women in politics, Sauvé wasn't always a favourite of feminists. As a 1989 Toronto Star article explained, "Some sectors of the feminist movement regard her as a sellout because she enjoys such traditionally feminine things as fashionable hairstyles and nice clothes."

• Sauvé made no apologies for her femininity. "We can have it all! We can embrace the fullness of life derived from love and work, and we need not do it at the expense of femininity..." she said in a 1983 convocation speech at Halifax's Mount Saint Vincent University.

• In a May 1988 Toronto Star article, Sauvé commented on her own brand of feminism and how it compared with those feminist groups that didn't like her: "I was saying that, yes, we have to promote women. But while fighting that promotion, we have to remember that women have to be integrated into society and that we will not have a proper social life if women do not accept the presence of men. Those feminists were very anti-men."

• Since Sauvé's term, Canada has had a second female governor general. Adrienne Clarkson was appointed to the role by Jean Chrétien in 1999. Coincidentally, Clarkson had also been a CBC journalist.
• Sauvé's personal mandate as governor general focused on three major themes: peace, national unity and concern for young people. jeanne sauve


Jeanne Sauvé, a Woman of Firsts more