Our Meeting with The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
The OLIP interns had the distinct privilege of meeting with the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, 29th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. As the representative of Her Majesty, the Queen, the Lieutenant Governor is responsible for carrying out constitutional and ceremonial duties as well as facilitating citizen and community engagement from a non-partisan standpoint.
Our meeting took place in the Lieutenant Governor’s suite, which was full of rich history. Portraits of Her Honour’s predecessors lined the walls of the entrance hall where we had an insightful conversation about the role of the Viceroy, Her Honour’s priorities while in office, and the power of stories.
As Lieutenant Governor, Her Honour explained that her responsibilities go beyond ceremonial duties, especially during times of crises. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Her Honour described her role as a symbol of continuity for Ontarians.
Her Honour’s work is guided by two main themes: “Ontario in the World” and “Sustainability.” These themes focus on recognizing and advancing inclusive economic prosperity, environmental stewardship, social cohesion, and Ontario’s global interconnectedness. Her Honour established these areas of focus after having conversations with hundreds of Ontarians across the province. She emphasized the value of storytelling as a powerful tool to encourage meaningful dialogue and empathy.
After our discussion, Her Honour and her team led us through an exhibition exploring “the roots of, threats to, and promises within democracy.” Downstairs in Her Honour’s suite, the walls featured powerful quotes by influential leaders, scholars, and change-makers. The quotes offered diverse insights on democracy from various historical and geographical sources. “We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced,” read one quote by Pakistani activist, Malala Yousafzai.
The aim of the exhibition is to inspire visitors to think about the complexities of democracy and to act with the purpose of maintaining a healthy democracy. As the OLIP interns continue to learn about and navigate the processes of Ontario’s democratic system, we valued these important lessons from our conversation with Her Honour.
We are grateful to Her Honour and her team for meeting with us!