Michaelle Jean: PM of Haiti?
Michaelle Jean coy about political future
‘When you are a woman of action like me, you always want to contribute,’ Governor-General tells Senegalese journalist
Published On Thu, 15 Apr 2010
Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean is escorted by the Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, right, as they walk past a Presidential Guard upon her arrival to Dakar, Senegal, Wednesday April 14, 2010. She will visit four countries on a 10 day visit to Africa.
Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS
DAKAR – Governor-General Michaelle Jean laughed off a question about whether she had political ambitions after her vice-regal term ends, and gave no hints Thursday about her future career plans.
News about the future of the popular Haitian-born Canadian governor-general, a descendant of African slaves, has made headlines and hit the radio news here.
A Senegalese journalist asked Jean whether she aspired to be prime minister, or to pursue a political career, prompting Jean to grin.
“When you are a woman of action like me, you always want to contribute where you can make a difference,” she answered in French.
Jean went on to explain her past jobs before being named in 2005 included working for abused women, teaching and journalism.
“What I will do will certainly be in this same spirit, animated by the same values, but elsewhere,” she said, giving away nothing.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not publicly announced Jean’s departure, but as the Star first reported, does not intend to renew or extend her term.
Jean confirmed to the Senegalese that “normally” her term will come to an end on Sept. 27.
She has embarked on a tour of Africa at Harper’s request, and is encouraging cultural, economic, and political renewal in part through the empowerment of women. A big part of her message on the tour—which takes her to Senegal, Congo, Rwanda and Cape Verde—is to urge respect for human rights, democracy and good governance.
She walks a fine line, however, as Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade was emphatic about his country’s track record.
“Senegal has no lessons to learn about democracy,” he told reporters after meetings with Jean. He defended his country’s record of elections and democratic government since achieving independence 50 years ago.
Here, he faces a vigorous opposition and free press, he said.
“We don’t jail journalists.”
Other African countries are not so advanced, he said, but are “progressing.”
“Democracies don’t all look alike,” Wade said, in a forceful answer to Canadian reporters.
Wade also defended the creation of a massive but controversial monument to “African Renaissance”—believed to have cost up to $20 million—while so many Senegalese live in poverty.
He compared it to the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, saying you can’t put a price on such cultural symbols.
Built by North Korea, in exchange for land that was then re-sold by the Dakar airport, it is viewed by many here as a vanity project of the president. He is reported to be taking a 35 per cent commission for conceiving the project—money he promises would be reinvested in a foundation to help children.