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Julie Payette and a question to consider for next time

Today's ruling against Ms. Payette has made her the latest trope in the cancel culture narrative. Her ill-advised tour of duty as Canada's gg has cost her alot, but Canada has lost even more. My latest piece explains.

An editorial cartoon in the Globe and Mail from earlier this summer depicts Julie Payette as a coil-curled Goldilocks from Hell, in full tantrum, spilled porridge everywhere. The image captures both her signature hairstyle and her alleged mistreatment of staff as Canada's 29th Governor-General.

As Canadians know, before Ms. Payette was GG, she was the first Canadian female to make it to space (twice!), missions that involved lengthy time alone and collaborating with an elite, tightly knit crew monitoring life or death situations.

It warrants the question: what aspects of her work would predispose the notoriously private Payette for a role that demands constant glad-handing, public diplomacy and ceremonial appearances? Whether the unique brand of grace under pressure that made Ms. Payette such a capable astronaut would translate into public life is a question officials must have certainly pondered.

Perhaps it was the wrong question.

Here's a better one: Is the star power Ms. Payette brings to this office worth the risk of her being remembered for anything other than the iconic achievement that made her such a desirable candidate in the first place?

The Payette situation should make future governments think twice before awarding the GG role to someone whose face you might consider putting on a five dollar bill. Someone whose rare and undeniable power as a role model for girls and women contemplating a career in STEM far outweighs any possible ceremonial or political value they may have.

The more iconic (and far removed) the achievement, the riskier the appointment. It's a factor worth considering for next time.


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