Nfld. & Labrador

Judy Foote is 'honoured' to be named 1st female lieutenant-governor in N.L.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says she is the "perfect choice."

Veteran politician to succeed Lt.-Gov. Frank Fagan in the role

Foote previously served as a federal cabinet minister Judy Foote before resigning to be closer to her family. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Judy Foote is going to be Newfoundland and Labrador's next lieutenant-governor.

Sources had told the CBC early Tuesday morning that the former federal cabinet minister would be named the first female vice-regal representative and, a few hours later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it official with a media release.

"It's very exciting," said Foote.

"It's also very humbling. Because there are so many other woman who could fill this role, so I feel very honoured and very privileged."

Foote stepped down from her role in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet in late August, citing family reasons, and resigned as an MP the following month.

She said it's about time the province has a female lieutenant-governor.

"I think that the time is right. It's also right because it sends a good message to other young woman and girls who might aspire to this job at some point in the future," she told CBC News.

Judy Foote "honoured" by new job.

5 years ago
Duration 1:32
Judy Foote says new job as Lieutenant-Governor for N.L. will keep her close to home.

She twice battled breast cancer while in office, and said during her emotional departure speech that health concerns for her children prompted the need to spend more time closer to home.

Foote carries a gene that leaves her susceptible to cancer, that has also been passed down to two of her daughters. 

The new job will ensure that she is close by for her family members at home.

"My reason for stepping down was to be close to them and that will always be my priority," she said.

Storied career 

Foote began her political career working with former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Clyde Wells in 1989, when the Liberals swept to power. She worked as communications director in the premier's office during the two terms of the Wells government. 

In 1996 she ran in the provincial district of Grand Bank and went on to represent the area until 2007. She served in the cabinets of former premiers Brian Tobin and Roger Grimes. She made the jump to federal politics in 2008, winning in Bonavista-Burin-Trinity.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embraces MP Judy Foote after her final remarks in the House of Commons. (CBC)

Foote won the realigned riding of Random-Burin-St. George's twice. In the 2015 federal election she garnered 81 per cent of the vote, the highest of any candidate across the country.

She will replace outgoing Lt.-Gov. Frank Fagan.

"I know that there are people who think of it as a ceremonial role primarily, but for me it's much more than that," said Foote.

She plans to focus on helping others, improving mental health support in areas like her hometown of Grand Bank, literacy throughout the province, and issues pertaining to gender balance in politics throughout her tenure.

When asked if she would continue collecting the pensions she earned as a provincial MHA and a federal MP, Foote made it clear she knows the rules.

"You cannot double dip," she said. "My salary will be the salary that comes with the job." 

When approached at an event on Tuesday, Fagan declined comment, but said he plans to acknowledge and congratulate Foote appropriately at a later date.

'Perfect choice,' says PM

In a press release from the Prime Minister's Office announcing the appointment, Trudeau noted Foote's years of public service, and thanked Fagan for his time as lieutenant-governor.

"Judy has dedicated her career to public service and making a meaningful difference in the lives of Canadians. Her work ethic and strength of character make her the perfect choice to be the new lieutenant-governor for Newfoundland and Labrador," said Trudeau in the release. 

"I know she will continue to serve with passion and commitment, and make important contributions to the future of her province and the country."

Foote said she expects to be installed as lieutenant-governor sometime in the next four to six weeks. 

With files from Fred Hutton and Janelle Kelly