Mykal Johncox

Monday 30 June 1997

The power of the pen

An Orleans boy's plea to the Queen lands him the job of flower-bearer

Michael Prentice
The Ottawa Citizen

Wayne Hiebert, The Ottawa Citizen / Mykal Johncox will greet the Queen at the airport today.

By special request of Queen Elizabeth, 10-year-old Mykal Johncox will meet Her Majesty today as part of his campaign to keep Canada united.

But Mykal has decided this will be an occasion for polite chit-chat, not heavy discussion.

He said yesterday he hopes that will come later, and that the Queen can help.

Mykal, a Grade 4 student at Fallingbrook Elementary School in Orlans, has been chosen to present flowers to the Queen when she arrives at Macdonald-Cartier International Airport at 3:35 p.m. today to begin a 43-hour visit to Ottawa.

He said in his letter that he'd like to meet her when she visited Ottawa for Canada Day.

Mykal told the Queen he's been trying to prevent Quebec from separating by writing to cabinet ministers, provincial premiers and mayors urging them to work for Canadian unity.

"In the beginning of Canada, we were arguing with the French and British, and in 1997 we are still not getting along as Canadians should," he wrote.

Mykal added emphatically: "Canada is the best country in the world to live and we all want to save our heritage."

Mykal even got the postal code of Buckingham Palace before dispatching his letter.

The Queen not only read the letter, but sent word to royal tour organizers in Canada that she would like to meet this young man. The organizers decided Mykal was just the person to present the Queen with a bouquet at the airport.

Mykal has instinctively recognized that this is not the occasion to engage the Queen in conversation about Canadian unity.

"No one has told me what to say to the Queen," he said yesterday. "But this is not the appropriate time to discuss the things that worry me.

"I shall say, 'Hullo, Your Majesty. It's an honour to meet you, and I hope you have a good time in Ottawa.'"

Mykal's faith in letter-writing campaigns can only have been strengthened by the response he got from the Queen.

He said in his letter to the Queen: "Young people have lots of ideas and I am trying to get them to send their ideas to the prime minister (Jean Chrtien) so he can read them and maybe one of the ideas is all he needs to show the people of Quebec how much we want them to stay in Canada."

Mykal, a keen golfer, got to play a round of golf with Mr. Chrtien at the Camelot Golf and Country Club in Cumberland last August after making repeated requests to the prime minister's office.

He campaigned for his Liberal member of Parliament, Eugne Bellemare, in last month's federal election, and is now working to organize a round-table of politicians this fall to discuss how to achieve Canadian unity.

Mykal is the only child of Shirley and Daniel Johncox of Orleans. His first name is a phonetic spelling of Michael.

"He became concerned about Canadian unity as a result of history lessons at school," said his father. "He does all this (letter-writing and political campaigning) without any input from his parents. He is very goal-oriented."

Mykal told the Queen: "The vote in Quebec a few years ago almost divided Canada and I am worried about the next time."

And he added: "I would like to be prime minister some day. Maybe you, me and the prime minister will have a United Canada plan. Working together we will keep Canada the best country in the world to live."

Mykal said yesterday that he favours keeping the Queen as head of Canada. "We should keep our heritage."

His schoolmates are impressed and envious that he will get to meet the Queen.

"They keep asking me, 'How did you do that?'"

Mykal, who will wear his best dark suit for the occasion, understands the brief meeting with the Queen is a means to an end. Perhaps, 35 years from now, Canada will still be united, and Prime Minister Mykal Johncox will be greeting a visiting king of Canada.