Governor General Julie Payette is entitled to have opinions

Governor General Julie Payette is entitled to have opinions. She’s even entitled to share them. And it’s not a surprise that Payette, as an engineer and astronaut, believes in the value of science and evidence-based decisions.

People should not, as she pointed out in her speech last week, take sugar pills with the expectation that they will cure cancer. There’s nothing wrong with a message that warns people of the dangers of ignoring facts or believing junk science. There are children today who have been put in harm’s way by the mistaken and completely unproven belief that vaccines cause them harm.

But you can argue the benefits of research and knowledge without mocking people who believe in everything from religion to astrology. The issue with Payette’s speech last week wasn’t substance but tone. Her role is to be the governor general for all Canadians. That doesn’t mean she has to pretend she agrees with everyone. But it does mean when she expresses her views, she should show respect for the people who don’t necessarily agree with her.

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