The Queen appoints a former astronaut as Canada's new Governor General

Paul Chiasson  Canadian Press                       Canadian astronaut Julie Payette arrives at the Canadian Space Agency on Aug. 28 2009 in Longueuil Que

Paul Chiasson Canadian Press Canadian astronaut Julie Payette arrives at the Canadian Space Agency on Aug. 28 2009 in Longueuil Que

Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said: "It's a really exciting message, and of course her vast experience will show other young women that there are multiple opportunities for us".

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also welcomed the choice, recalling a chance encounter he had with her earlier this year as she was volunteering at Mont-Tremblant in Quebec as a member of the ski patrol.

Trudeau, who made headlines by naming a gender-balanced cabinet after his Liberals won a surprise majority government in 2015, will announce Payette's appointment on Thursday, the Globe and Mail newspaper and Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported.

But her appointment could also make Canadians question the need to tie the Governor General to Royal Family, said Philippe Lagasse, an associate professor of global affairs at Carleton University.

Payette, the fourth woman to hold the position, will replace Governor General David Johnston, who will retire in September after seven years in the position.

Duchess of Cambridge unveils blue whale skeleton at Natural History Museum
Lord Avebury addressing an audience at the museum in 1905 during the unveiling of Dippy the Diplodocus. Hope is a real blue whale skeleton measuring 25.2m and is suspended from the ceiling.

In making the nomination Trudeau maintained the tradition of alternating the post between French and English speakers. From 2000 to 2007 she was the chief astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency.

She will be installed as Governor General during a ceremony this fall.

Canada's Governor General has several responsibilities and acts as the Queen's main representative.

Speaking after the appointment was confirmed, the 53-year-old said: "This is a very great honour for me and my family, for my friends and my colleagues here around the country, on the planet and even a few outside the planet".

Johnston will have an audience with the Queen next week when he travels to the United Kingdom for Canada 150 events, marking the last time he meets with the monarch he represents. Throughout her career as an astronaut, she was a tireless ambassador for science and technology.

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