I was sitting on the plane this morning when I heard a voice behind me talking to his colleague. It had something of Don Cherry tone to it: assured, a little truculent, a tinge of redneck even, assertive, a little loud. I turned around and saw David Johnston, our former Governor General. Not believing my eyes, I turned around once more and he interrupted his talking to a colleague to say hello to me.
You have to understand my shock. I have known David Johnson peripherally for many years. He is the smoothest man of policy I have ever met. Not merely clever, but wise. Ambitious. The kind of man who, in my belief, learned very early always to say the right thing without once being deceived by his own talk or anyone else’s. Social smarts coming out the ears. Scholar, law professor, chancellor of the best universities.
When the plane stopped we had a brief chat. He was in fine form. He spoke about his wife getting him out of the house as many a retired man must. He said he had never had a “real job” in his life, and I know what he means, because I have never had one either. The kind that can be measured with a stop watch or a calculator.
The amazing transformation before me was of a man who seemed to have thrown off his smooth persona to have achieved a kind of thinking man’s Don Cherry-hood. Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty I am free at last. That is what he seemed to be saying, through all the practised jokes and badinage.
Good luck to you, brother, live long and prosper.
And when you really succeed, maybe you can take over Don Cherry’s job as the second culmination of your career. After being Her Majesty’s Canadian representative, what higher honour can your country give you? Apotheosis?