When former Governor General of Canada and author David Johnston spoke about why he choose to write his latest book Trust: Twenty Ways to Build a Better Country, his lighthearted talk turned serious.
“I wrote it because I was worried,” said Johnston at his speaking engagement Wednesday night in Collingwood at New Life Church.
“I was worried about the erosion of trust in our societies,” he said. “This is a good country. I love this country. I always thought it was good. But our greatest danger is complacency and taking for granted the good things that we have.”
Johnston came to Collingwood this week to promote his new book, discuss the state of trust in public institutions and media and share anecdotes from his life.
The talk was moderated by Janet Fairbridge, foundation director with Hospice Georgian Triangle, who started by asking Johnston questions before turning the floor over to audience questions.
“How do we establish trustworthy persons, and how to we establish trustworthy relationships?” mused Johnston.
Johnston, the 28th Governor General of Canada, has written more than 25 books and served as the Governor General of Canada from 2010 to 2017.
Trust: Twenty Ways to Build a Better Country interweaves personal stories from Johnston’s life into morals and lessons, some of which he shared during the talk.
Johnston relayed a story about resigning from a Final Club at Harvard University (similar to a fraternity) when he was a student due to the club not allowing a Nigerian student to join.
“This was in 1959. There were only six black people in that class,” he said. “In my values, from Sault Ste. Marie, I just wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t want to offend anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings. I just didn’t want any part of it.”
“Be true to yourself and your values,” said Johnston.
The proceeds from Johnston’s book are going toward the Rideau Hall Foundation, a charity he helped co-found. He talked at length about the importance of volunteers.
“If you ever want to measure the health of a community, just look at the number of volunteers in that community,” said Johnston.
The former Governor General also talked about the most influential figures in the average person’s life.
“Cherish our teachers,” said Johnston. “It’s our coaches, teachers, veterans, advisors who have the most influence on us in terms of a value system.”
The talk was put on by Hospice Georgian Triangle Foundation, with presenting sponsor Wayne Noble of Noble Insurance.
Johnston’s book is available now on Amazon and through Indigo.