Who is B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon?

The rancher from the Nicola Valley could face the most difficult political decision of her career if the B.C. Liberals lose a confidence vote today.

Guichon, appointed in 2012, faces toughest decision of her political career

Judith Guichon — a rancher from the Nicola Valley — is the 29th lieutenant-governor of British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

If B.C.'s Liberal government is defeated as expected today in Victoria, the spotlight will shift to Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon's key role in the unfolding political drama.

It will be up to Guichon to decide whether to send the province back to the polls for another election or ask NDP Leader John Horgan to govern.

Typically, lieutenant-governors — who are appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the prime minister for five-year terms — act upon the advice of the premier and the executive council or cabinet.

But Premier Christy Clark has made the unusual declaration she would not provide any advice to the lieutenant-governor if she lost the confidence of the house — something Carleton University constitutional expert Philippe Lagasse said left him "bewildered."

It's high stakes for Guichon, who is nearing the end of her term after being recommended as lieutenant-governor by then-prime minister Stephen Harper and appointed in 2012.

Rural roots

At the time of her appointment, Guichon lived in the Nicola Valley in B.C.'s Interior, where she owned and operated the Gerard Guichon Ranch.

According to her official biography, she was born in Montreal, Quebec, raised on a farm near Hawkesbury, Ontario before moving to British Columbia in 1972.

She married her late husband, commercial pilot Lawrence Guichon, and joined him on his family's ranch, which has been in operation since 1878.

As ranchers, the Guichons focused on environmental stewardship.

They studied holistic management — a farming method which promotes sustainable management of livestock by emphasizing their natural habitat — and are credited with introducing the technique to the ranching community.

Later, Guichon served on the Provincial Task Force on Species at Risk and was president of the British Columbia Cattlemen's Association.

She received the Order of B.C. and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for community service.

'A deep appreciation for history'

Lieutenant-governors are supposed to be non-partisan and appear scrupulously so in their duties. Guichon's office has declined to say whether she will speak to the media before the vote today.

But in her statement accepting a honorary doctorate of laws from Vancouver Island University in January 2017, Guichon provided some reason as to why she accepted the position of lieutenant-governor.

"There's an increasing gap in understanding between urban and rural populations," she said. "Since we both need each other, I thought this was an excellent opportunity for me to bridge that gap. And it was such a wonderful opportunity to learn something new."

Another telling detail is what Premier Christy Clark said about Guichon upon her appointment.

"She has a deep appreciation for the history and traditions of British Columbia and has spent a lifetime ensuring that we all stay connected to our roots," Clark said.

Faced with today's unusual situation, Guichon will have a chance to play a key role on the province's history. 

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