The Queen’s Representatives in Canada

August 4, 2005 · By

If you have been following the news today you will have noticed that Paul Martin has asked The Queen to appoint a Quebec Haitian born CBC journalist as the next Governor General of Canada. See here.

Unfortunately, this appointment belies a fundamental problem with how the Liberal Party, and the intelligentsia that informs it, has come to view the constitution. And once again, it belies the politically destabilising view that the Liberal elite are the face of Canada—the “greatest country in the world”!

Last I checked, HM The Queen remains Canada’s Head-of-State, the Governor General her representative in Canada. And that means that the Governor General is representative of HM The Queen, not the “people” nor a representative of Canada to the World at large, contrary to how this latest appointment is being spun. The Governor General is a subordinate office that SHOULD serve none other than The Queen, who is the lawful sovereign over Canada. And furthermore, The Queen’s sovereignty over Canada has been crucial to the maintenance of the Canadian federation. Over the years, even while one part of the country may despise another part, on paper at least, they never owe allegiance to anyone but The Queen—which when you think about it, works rather well at getting everyone to get along.

This appointment shows why Canadian government is in need of, as Preston Manning would say, “REFORM!” from the top on down.

First, the office of Governor General has become a farcical retirement home for CBC journalists, and not good statesmen in the mold of Vanier, or even as late as LeBlanc. The Liberal Party is now trying to popularise the office, or as they call it, “Canadianise” the office, by pushing the appointment of people who have not served this country in either a military, political, or public service capacity (and no, being a journalist doesn’t count) and for all we know, they know and care little for the sovereignty of The Queen and the integrity of the constitution, both written and otherwise. What qualified either Adrienne Clarkson or Michaelle Jean to be Governor General, besides some felt need to “inspire people” by finding strange ways for Canadian officialdome to spend money and travel the world? At the very least, the person sitting as Governor General should command a certain amount of respect from the PM, both for who they are and who they represent, not because they are a CBC celebrity—which isn’t much of a celebrity, but a celebrity nonetheless.

This appointment suggests to me that the appointment process for this position needs to be changed. I think the PMO should do up a list, have a parliamentary committee scrutinise it for qualifications, and then let The Queen pick from the scrutinised list. It is her representative afterall, and she should always have the option of appointing a member of the Royal Family to the position, if she so chooses.

Second, starting with Michner and the first “state visit” abroad by a Governor General, the integrity of the office of Governor General has deteriorated. The reality is that we only need a Governor General to represent The Queen IN Canada, he or she does not have to travel the world, telling the world what warm, fuzzy, and tolerant of everything country we are. If the office of Governor General should serve any purpose, it should be to act as a “guardian” of the constitution, legitimated by a directly subordinate connection to the reigning monarch. We don’t need a Governor General to be a popular cheer leader, we need a Governor General to ensure that the consitution is being respected. If an election needs to be called, as was the case this May when the PM is not resigning, the Governor General should have no qualms about calling one. And Canadians have no reason to feel uncomfortable with this happening. Other than costing money, what’s wrong with having an election when the legitimacy of a government is in doubt? I guess it is a problem if the government that won’t resign is your party … hmmm Clarkson.

This appointment suggests to me that we need to re-evaluate the role of Governor General, what we really expect this person to do. If anything, they don’t seem to want to represent The Queen anymore! And if the office was being run the way it should be run, image wise the office would make the presence of monarchy felt in Canada and that is all, and constitutionally the office would ensure that the sovereignty of The Crown and the integrity of the constitution is upheld.

But in the final analysis, no change will ever happen here unless Canada gets a dynamic Conservative PM, which would be very rare, or unless a popular Premier gets mad about it. And at the very least, might I suggest that premiers should get mad about having to tolerate “Lieutenant Governors” when state Premiers in Australia get to have The Queen appoint their very own “Governors” for their very own States. It would be interesting to see a Canadian Premier, especially one from Alberta, take up this issue, causing a big fuss just because they can. And in the process, this Premier could protest that the “reservation and disallowance” powers of Lieutenant Governors are long outdated, unused, and offensive to provincial rights.

Comments

2 Responses to “The Queen’s Representatives in Canada”

  1. Peter on August 5th, 2005 1:57 pm [#]

    “The Liberal Party are now trying to popularise the office, or as they call it, “Canadianizeâ€? the office, by pushing the appointment of people who have not served this country in either a military, political, or public service capacity (and no, being a journalist doesn’t count) and for all we know, they know and care little for the sovereignty of The Queen and integrity of the constitution, both written and otherwise.”

    George, you hit the nail on the head here. The office of the Governor General is just the latest to fall victim to the electoral ambitions of the Liberal Party.

    Why exactly does Canada exist anymore besides to sustain the lucrative careers and delusions of Liberal politicians?

  2. George Freeman on August 5th, 2005 10:49 pm [#]

    Thanks. Considering the ineptitude of the Liberal backbench, might I suggest that Canada exists specifically to shovel more pork to Quebec while massaging the inferiority complex of Ontario. And we all know that the best way to keep pork coming, or to magically transfigure a small penis into a big penis afterall (whether relative to the Americans or to the West), is for those two provinces to keep voting for the perpetual soap opera of “two founding nations” to go round and round. The soap opera is now so old and so boring it requires that those very same politicians you mention bloviate about Canada being the greatest country in the world; the most tolerant of every lifestyle, whether you be a terrorist or two dudes who want to marry, while under the table every shady deal imaginable is being cut to keep things ticking. Canada is a big tent you know, there’s room for everyone, including the mob, just as long as we can keep those abrupt Westerners and other redneck-law and order-American-loving-homophobes in line.

    I don’t mean to be cynical, the next federal election of course does offer a chance for Central Canada to repent, for those with any sense to lead the charge to a Conservative government. But that might mean the niceties of federal pork get cut short, at least in some capacity, or that looking West with envy at bigger equipment and better future prospects ceases to be comforted by willy nilly liars.

    The future is always bright, whether it be that we do get a Conservative government, and at that, one that avoids steering towards the vacuous centre of Liberal-lite. And if not that, then the push is on for next Premier of Alberta to be a drop-down, drag-out, kick-ass provincial rights fighter, one with no qualms about telling the feds and other provincial governments what losers they have become. Failing change via a federal election, tolerant Canada could really use an in-house brawl! But I suspect the man who might be Premier, I dare say Dinning, might be too gentile to smash a bottle for Alberta and start swinging. So forget Dinning, bring on Morton!

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