Julie Payette, Former Astronaut, Will Be Canada’s Next Governor General

Canada’s next governor general will be Julie Payette, according to media reports.

The 53-year-old Montrealer speaks six languages, holds 18 honorary degrees, and has flown through space.

Payette joined NASA in 1996 and worked on two missions to the International Space Station, according to the Canadian Space Agency. She has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from McGill University and a master’s of applied science from the University of Toronto.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make Payette’s appointment official on Thursday. The Globe and Mail and CBC News confirmed the decision Wednesday.

Trudeau informed the Queen of his selection at their sit-down last week, sources say.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston’s term expires in September. He was appointed to the job by prime minister Stephen Harper in 2010.

Traditionally, the viceregal job rotates between anglophones and francophones, with all indications pointing to a francophone filling the portfolio beginning this fall.

NASA via Reuters
Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette, STS-127 mission specialist, poses on flight deck of the space shuttle Endeavour in this NASA handout photo taken July 17, 2009.

Johnston, who had a long career in academia, was chosen for the position off a short list presented to Harper by an ad hoc committee of experts struck with the express task of selecting a non-partisan person with constitutional knowledge.

At the time, Harper had a minority government and so who held the post of governor general was essential to maintaining the stability of government.

The names of those on the selection committee weren’t published until after Johnston’s nomination, but Harper would go on to make the committee a permanent body, saying a process to ensure a non-partisan approach to appointments was important.

When asked late last year how he’d pick the next governor general, Trudeau was noncommittal about what process he would use.

“I’m not going to change things just to reinvent the wheel,” Trudeau said in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press.

“If there is a good process that we can improve by making (it) more open and transparent and more diverse, that I will probably do.”

With files from Emma Paling/HuffPost Canada

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