Governor general praises Alberta as economic powerhouse in speech to legislature

Governor general praises Alberta as economic powerhouse in speech to legislature

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette told humorous stories about Alberta and praised the province as the economic powerhouse of Canada on Tuesday, while stressing the importance of collaboration in a speech to the Alberta legislature.

Installed as Canada's 29th governor general last fall, Payette charmed MLAs with a speech, delivered without notes, that was heavy on anecdotes of her travels in Alberta. 

One story involved pilot survival training on Jasper Lake in 1993, when as a newly appointed astronaut she had to survive a November night using items found inside the ejection seat of an airplane. 

When Payette came out of the woods she was taken to dinner in nearby Hinton, where she had "the best hamburger ever." 

'It was just so amazing, because we hadn't eaten," she said. "But it was just Alberta beef. The best."

The speech wasn't only about her travels in Alberta. Payette stressed Alberta's importance to Canada, and the need to work together to ensure this country's prosperity. 

She urged Albertans to keep doing what they do so well. 

"That you will continue to do what you do particularly well in this province, welcome people who seek harbour," Payette said. "And that you will continue to use, exploit and share your land intelligently, if you will continue to reach across to differences and also to seek opportunities for more collaboration and teamwork."

'Godspeed to you all'

Payette also noted Alberta's importance to the rest of Canada as the country's economic powerhouse. 

"Without a strong Alberta, Canada could never reach its full potential in the future," she said. 

At the conclusion of her speech, Payette thanked MLAs for their service, and said goodbye with a phrase used by astronauts as they depart on a challenging mission: "Godspeed to you all."

Payette arrived at the Alberta legislature Tuesday morning to a 21-gun salute and a 100-person honour guard. She was greeted by Premier Rachel Notley, who then accompanied her to greet a small crowd of onlookers. 

After meeting school children who assembled on the steps of the legislature, Payette was escorted inside by Notley and Speaker Bob Wanner. 

Payette is scheduled to attend a reception at Government House in Edmonton with Notley and Alberta Lieut.-Gov. Lois Mitchell. 

She will visit Calgary on Wednesday. 

This is Payette's first official visit to Alberta.  Wanner said a governor general has addressed the legislature only three times in Alberta history. 

Payette gave Wanner a night photo of Alberta taken from the space station two years ago.