The office of lieutenant-governor was established in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949, with
the adoption of provincial status within the Canadian confederation. The lieutenant-governor
represents the federal principle, in that he or she is appointed by the governor-general on the
advice of the prime minister of Canada. At the same time, however, the lieutenant-governor is the
provincial representative of the Crown, and as such possesses all the formal and discretionary
powers that are exercised by the monarch and the governor-general.
Lieutenant-Governor Albert Joseph Walsh
Albert Walsh (1900-1958) became Newfoundland's first lieutenant-governor following Confederation. The above picture shows Walsh, the chairman of Newfoundland
Delegation, signing the Terms of Union between Canada and Newfoundland in the Senate chamber in
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador
(PANL B16-60), St. John's, Newfoundland.
The lieutenant-governor has the duty to open sessions of the House of Assembly, and to read the
Speech from the Throne, as well as to
prorogueand close it. He or she gives royal assent to
provincial legislation and
orders-in-council. In addition, the lieutenant-governor has the
responsibility to select the provincial premier and to appoint members of the provincial
government. In exercising these responsibilities, the lieutenant-governor invariably acts according
to precedent and on the advice of the provincial government. However, there are occasions when
the lieutenant-governor may be called upon to use his or her discretionary powers. This was the
case in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1971-72, when an existing government was defeated in a
general election, but the incoming government did not have a clear majority in the House of
The lieutenant-governor also has important social responsibilities. He - there has never been a
female lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador - hosts official visitors, in particular
members of the royal family and heads of state, and meets the general public at the New Year's
Day levee, the summer Garden Party, and during visits to all parts of the province. Government
House is frequently used for awards and other ceremonies.
Government House Garden Party
The former lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, his Honour, A. M. House, greets arriving guests at the
1999 Government House garden party. The garden party is held annually on the Government House
Reproduced by permission of Government House, © 1999.
The lieutenant-governor is usually appointed for a five-year term, which can be extended.
Appointees have generally served the province and the country for many years, some in a political
capacity. Whatever his or her background, the lieutenant-governor cannot be politically partisan,
though the support and encouragement of charitable and community organizations has become
part of the responsibilities of office.