Canada’s retired Governor Generals aren’t always the retiring type.
The Right Honourable David Johnston, who served as the late Queen’s representative in Canada from 2010 to 2017, has written another fine book, this time in collaboration with Brian Hanington. It has just been released.
Empathy: Turning Compassion into Action (Signal-McClelland and Stewart) offers Johnston’s observations and reflections of his diverse life experiences, structured around the theme of how we all need to think beyond our individual self-interest to show care and compassion for others.
Although apart, we came together as a community during COVID-19, and this book reminds us to continue the spirit of togetherness and acts as a how-to guide for encouraging kindness.
I came to know David Johnston when he was the President of the University of Waterloo, prior to his appointment as Governor General. At the time, I was MPP for Waterloo-Wellington, and always looked forward to our interactions; coming away from each conversation inspired by what the university was accomplishing under his leadership.
Empathy offers thought-provoking advice for nations, communities and individuals as together we seek to confront seemingly intractable problems. Climate change, environmental degradation, and growing inequality of outcomes must all be addressed, and each of us can do our part. Johnston maintains we can make the most immediate and profound impact by first putting ourselves in others’ shoes, building mutual trust through honest dialogue and always remembering the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
And for those of us privileged to serve in government: take empathy and put it to work.
When the Legislative Assembly of Ontario is not sitting, most every MPP is very busy working in their Riding: listening, assisting, supporting and advocating for their constituents and communities. When the House resumes sitting, MPPs return to Queen’s Park with an updated and refreshed perspective of the needs of the people they serve.
In the current Legislative session, which resumed on February 21, Members are meeting to discuss topics related to the most urgent issues facing the Province. Together, we are accountable to you.