October 24 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 31  

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Clarkson responds to spending criticism

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

Among the graduates honoured at yesterday's Convocation ceremony was Canada's Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, who was given an honorary doctor of laws degree.

The Gazette caught up with Clarkson after the ceremony and asked her to address the controversy surrounding the amount of spending in her office. "The trips are initiatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs," Clarkson said concerning a recent trip to a number of European countries.

According to Clarkson, the initiative has been around for several years and has sent her to several South American countries, Germany and other countries where she feels her visits have improved relations and represented Canada in a more true manner. "I think its cutting edge and different," she added.

Clarkson continued by pointing out the recent trips to Iceland, Finland and Russia have brought forth discussion of issues concerning the North. Along with the official dinners there have been numerous roundtable discussions between policy makers and experts on issues as diverse as environmentalism and Russian arts and literature, she said.

"[The Embassy] has never been able to penetrate Russia," Clarkson noted, adding the visit brought about dialogue between Canada and Russia which had not previously existed.

"This is a long-term investment," Clarkson added, noting the total benefit of her trips will not be fully realized immediately. She cited the example of the relationship that developed with Chile following her trip during Chile's democratization.

Clarkson noted the visits also enhanced relations to the point where the countries were able to improve the transmission of ideas, which can potentially improve cultural growth in some countries. "We have influence in this world and we should show it," she said.

"In Adrienne Clarkson, Canadians see both a Viceregal representative and a part of themselves - [we] are inspired by her own personal example," stated Western President Paul Davenport at the ceremony.

"At the outset of the 21st century, we have sufficient distractions of technology, gadgetry, prophecies and the like to take us far away from the ideals once sought in humanism," Clarkson said in her address to the graduates, adding finding a balance between human progress and cultural achievements is the goal of universities.

"My own graduation was an excitement I cannot tell you - because my parents lived for my graduation," Clarkson said of her Convocation.

"I'm working and continuing my passion for salsa that I developed here at Western," said honours business and administration grad Chris Asper on his future plans.

"We all have this debt but we have jobs and it's finally over," stated Valerie Derooy, a new master of clinical science graduate.




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