As many of you know, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, head of Chemistry and Society at McGill University, my Alma Mater, has a 2 evening Conference sponsored by Lorne Trottier, every year in Montreal. It’s open to the public and its free. Phil and I have been going since it started. Its entertaining as well as educational. The topics are fascinating. This year Dr. Amir Raz from the department of Psychiatry at McGill and Dr. Marla Shapiro, physician, who many of you must have seen on CTV, were his guest speakers.
Dr. Joe, a customer and a friend, always invited us to the meet and greet before the show, where wine and hors d’ouvres were served. It was full of professors, scientists, scholars, and important people. Of course we’re all important, but these were celebrities. It was here several years ago that we had the pleasure of meeting Julie Payette who is now Her Excellency, the Right Honorable Julie Payette, Governor General and Commander in Chief of Canada.
Phil was star-struck when he saw her way back then. Normally shy, he took his courage in hand and went over to her and said, “I just had to meet you. I’m not a doctor or professor or scientist …” and she said, “Don’t tell me what you’re not, tell me what you are.” And Phil said, “I’m Joe Schwarcz’ magic dealer.” “Really? How exciting!” And from there they got into a conversation and we’ve been friends, always happy to see each other and catch up on what each other was doing etc. She was director at the science centre at the Old Port in Montreal for a while and had magicians there so we had something in common. We usually sat together in reserved seating. Not this year.
We sat in reserved seating but Julie was nowhere in sight until everyone was seated and an announcement was made that Her Excellency, the Right Honorable Julie Payette, Governer General of Canada was entering and everyone stood up and applauded. It was moving. She had an official escort with her.
When she sat down Dr. Joe went on to the stage and started to introduce Dr. Marla when someone came up to him, whispered a few words and stepped away. He went back to speaking and said “It seems I didn’t have the correct protocol. I’m supposed to introduce the Her Excellency The Right Honorable Julie Payette and she is going to say a few words. He continued with something like “I never thought about introducing her because she comes here every year and I never introduced her before. Just because she’s an astronaut, and plays in a symphony orchestra, and is a super athlete,” and he went on and on about her achievments, “why would I introduce her?” He got a good laugh. He introduced her and she came up and gave a heartwarming speech which I’m sure everyone enjoyed, and then the speakers were called upon and we had a wonderful evening. We did have a chance to speak to her after. As she says “I’m still Julie”!