Canada doesn’t need a Governor General.

Not since the ‘King-Byng-Thing’ in the 1920s has Canada needed a governor general. The conflict between the prime minister and the governor general of the time, resulted in the Statute of Westminster of 1931 that emancipated Canada and other former colonies of the United Kingdom. It also made the post of governor general a merely ceremonial position.

And yet we get these die-hard monarchists around Canada who think the role is important. To do what? So that they can tell school children about the monarchy? So that they can advise the prime minister, who will do what he or she wants to do, in any event?

This is not to say we have not had some very intelligent, worthy people in the role. My favourite was Madame Jeanne Sauvé. She served as governor general from 1984 to 1990.She was a very fine and intelligent lady. And I was always amused that her husband, Maurice, was allowed to be seen but not heard from at official functions.

But Julie Payette is not the first G-G to put her foot in it. Canada has had both good and bad experience since confederation. Payette was just the first to be fired. There were just too many complaints. If you cannot keep the peace in Rideau Hall, why would you want to stay in the job?

But no more, please.

We do not need a governor general. It might be a good job for a career diplomat such as Vincent Massey (G-G from 1952 to 1959) in honour of his service to his country. We do not have a very good honours system in Canada.

We have got supreme court justice Richard Wagner in the role today in an acting capacity. I will bet he is quite competent to read a throne speech and sign-up new cabinet ministers. It would only take a bit of time from his more important role as chief justice.

You have to admit that a bit of pomp and ceremony adds something to the Ottawa scene. It would be even better though to start with competence.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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