Nicola Valley rancher Judith Guichon named as new lieutenant-governor for B.C.
Oct 02 2012
Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Judith Guichon, British Columbia's incoming lieutenant-governor, in Harper's Langevin Block office in Ottawa todayPhotograph by: Reuters , Times Colonist
When longtime cattle rancher Judy Guichon answered the phone at her Nicola Valley farm last month, she couldn’t believe what she heard.
On the other end of the line was the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa asking if she was interested in becoming British Columbia’s 29th lieutenant-governor.
“It was a very surprising phone call,” she said. “I thought somebody was playing a joke on me.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made Guichon’s appointment official on Monday in Ottawa.
“Mrs. Guichon has dedicated herself to her community, province and country,” the prime minister said in a statement. “She is a leader in keeping British Columbia’s agriculture and cattle industries environmentally sound and she has worked hard to promote and protect the ranchers of British Columbia.”
Guichon replaces Steven Point, a former judge and First Nations leader who was named to the post in 2007.
The lieutenant-governor is the Queen’s representative in the province, based out of Government House in Victoria.
The largely symbolic five-year position involves reading the provincial government’s speech from the throne, giving royal assent to legislation and calling on the winning party to form the government after an election.
Guichon, 65, owns Gerard Guichon Ranch Limited, north of Merritt. The ranch, which has 1,400 cattle, also operates as a bed and breakfast.
Along with her late husband, Lawrence, she helped introduce the practice of “holistic management” farming in B.C., which promotes sustainable management of ranch livestock by focusing on the larger ecosystem.
The Montreal native said she intends to use the “wonderful opportunity” of serving as lieutenant-governor to travel to as many rural areas of the province as possible and learn about different methods of agriculture.
Guichon is an avid flutist and plays in a community band. She has four sons, two of whom work on her ranch.
Premier Christy Clark praised Guichon’s deep appreciation for B.C.’s traditions.
“Those deep, abiding roots are what have driven Judith to get involved in her community, industry and province,” Clark said in a statement.
“She never has just stood by, but always sought ways to bring her perspective forward in a positive fashion and make our province better.”
Guichon was a staunch supporter of the provincial government’s unpopular harmonized sales tax, which is being rescinded, and her ranch has donated to the Liberal party.
Nonetheless, NDP leader Adrian Dix welcomed her appointment.
“I think she’ll do an excellent job and is a good choice,” he told reporters at a media event Monday to highlight the first day of the cancelled fall session of the legislature.
“As an opposition party, we were fully consulted in the process and are pleased that the prime minister made a good decision, and a difficult decision amongst, I’m sure, many good candidates.”