Five! More! Years! -

Five! More! Years!


The mayor of Port-au-Prince, though he probably shouldn’t have a say in our internal affairs, raises an interesting argument: Why not keep Michaelle Jean on as governor general?


Five! More! Years!

  1. That's not an argument; it's a suggestion. And a bad one.

    I'm all for inspiring children in Haiti, but the Governor General's post is about more than that. There actually is a political role to fulfill here and Jean has shown herself an abysmal failure three times over. She should have been replaced long before now.

    • I strongly disagree that Ms. Jean "has shown herself an abysmal failure three times over". What "three times" were you referring to?

      • Morgentaler's Order of Canada, declaring herself the Head of State, and the prorogation fiasco(s).

        • The GG doesn't pick Order of Canada recipients; an advisory panel does. The "Head of State" thing was a minor verbal gaffe that was corrected by Rideau Hall. Finally, Ms. Jean conducted her constitutional duties quite properly during the prorogations.

          • The GG, as I understand it, has to approve the selection…particularly in this case where the panel was split as opposed to the usual requirement for unanimous decisions.

            The "Head of State" thing was said once and then repeated after criticism before being corrected. It was more than a minor gaffe.

            The prorogations (at the least the first) were an abuse of prorogation to avoid Parliamentary accountability. The GG should have prevented this by refusing the request – that is what she is there for.

          • I have to agree with Crit on this. Well, except for the head of state thing, which I agree with you if she had a point about "head of state in all but name" or "acting head of state" or "virtually the same as head of state" she didn't say it as well as I just did three times.

            But in spite of the fact that granting the prorogation request was not in my partisan favour, it is not up to the Governor General to fight our battles for us. The Canadian people are responsible for the Canadian government (why they call it "responsible government" after all) not some woman appointed to stand in the place of some other woman from across the pond. And I say that with all due respect to both the current Governor General, who I love, and my Queen, as I am more monarchist than not.

            What we ought to do is kick the bum who requested prorogation out of office. That's being responsible for our government. What I hope we already have done is ensure prorogation to avoid accountability doesn't happen again. But I'm ever the optomist.

          • From what I can tell, you and CR view the Governor General as a completely impotent figurehead whose role is merely to rubber stamp requests from the PM and award nominations from her staff.

            If that's all the position is for, then sure, the role requires nothing more than a nice smile. In that case Jean is a perfect fit.

            I view the Governor General differently. She's the representative of the Queen, and therefore holds real authority. I expect her to rein in the PM when necessary and make her own decisions. Jean seems to be the worst of both worlds: she holds an exaggerated view of her authority while exercising none of her real authority.

    • If having Gaunilon giving Jean the thumbs down three times over isn't proof that she's doing an awesome job, I don't know what is.

      • I strongly disagree too, she is one amazing woman, very gutsy!

  2. Answer: because there are many distinguished and deserving individuals in Canada for the role, so why on earth would we treat the position like a job-for-life?

    • Certainly not for life. Probably not for another 5 years but you act like a term extension has never happened before. What's more, you speak of the position as if it is a price to be awarded to a worthy one. That's not my understanding of the purpose of this office.

      • So what are your criteria for the appointment?

        • I wasn't commenting on the criteria for appointments and neither were you. The question was "Why not keep Michaelle Jean on as governor general?"

          Not, "who should get the job?"

          I, for one, won't know how I feel about keeping Jean in the job until I hear about who Harper plans on replacing her with. You know the saying… Don't know a good thing until it's gone.

          • You make no sense.

            One the one hand you say "you speak of the position as if it is a price to be awarded to a worthy one" and then you say "I wasn't commenting on the criteria for appointments and neither were you"

            So I'm looking for the best candidate and I'm not looking for the best candidate. At the same time. Yeah.

          • I think Jean has been a wonderful Governor General, but I don't have a problem with choosing someone else, either. You are right that there should be a good reason to extend the mandate. We do tend to be too quick to extend mandates, as is obvious by the surprise when her mandate isn't extended, if you see what I mean. I mean to say, this isn't the same as the MPCC commissioner, who was right in the middle of something when his term expired. It's not like Michaelle Jean's mandate expired in the middle of the Olympics, for example, or some other week-long series of events she's hosting.

  3. Before her TWO prorogues, I would have agreed with the mayor.

    • I disagree with her on the first one, but I'm not sure there was any constitutional latitude on the second.

  4. Keeping her ego in check would be a pretty good argument against it. While most of her work has been unobjectionable, such as in Haiti and the Arctic, the inflated sense of her personal importance in the I'm-Very-Nearly-Almost-the-Queen-You-Lowly-Peons (rather than as a mere appointee carrying out a mostly-rote function) attitude evident in last year's squabble with the PMO was concerning.

  5. True, I do remember that dispute, and it's reason enough to replace her. She also has, at times, used her position to gain influence in areas that really should be disconnected from the GG.

  6. I think that would be a great idea.

  7. Because His Highness Stephen Harper of Canada doesn't like her, or anybody more popular than him.

  8. I think five years is usually enough for a position like GG. I have no qualms with how Jean operated, but do think a new GG should be installed at the end of her term this fall. While people may not have liked prorogation, the fact is the GG's hands were pretty tied, particularly on the latter. Her job was to decide if prorogation was constitutional, this December it definitely was, the year prior it was more of a grey area given the government was ducking out prior to a confidence vote (although they HAD the confidence of the House based on the Speech from the Throne), but I would say the GG's decision then was the right avenue as well.

  9. The GG was never offered the opportunity. The Conservatives under Harper, obviously stayed in power after the 2008 election. They gained the confidence of the House on the Throne Speech. Harper than asked to prorogue, while his government still held the confidence of the House. (and again proroguing is much different than asking the GG to dissolve the House and call another election, if that were the case, than the GG would've been obliged to ask the coalition if it wanted to try and form a government IMO).

  10. She always has the option of saying no. It's her job. Her only real job. The rest is just ceremonial.

    And twice, she blew it.

    "A Governor General must take all steps necessary to thwart the will of a ruthless prime minister." Eugene Forsey

  11. What would be the basis so say no? I didn't like either prorogation. I thought the one this past December was among the most insulting things a Prime Minister has ever done. Harper thought so little of the public he thought it wouldn't even register. The first one, unfortunately, was probably the best outcome of a pretty untenable situation, and even if the Dion-led coalition would have been ones preference to the current government, it doesn't change the Constitutional legitimacy of the request – regardless of whether we like that or not.

  12. The first prorogue was strictly political, to save Harper's skin, and shouldn't have been allowed.

    And you know what everyone thought of the second one. Harper was trying to avoid a lawful order of Parliament, a subpoena.

    He even phoned it in, and she complied.

    • I don't necessarily disagree, but the issues you're noting are systemic. Under the current system, whether either of us like it or not, Jean was within her rights, and arguably it was her duty, to grant the Prime Minister prorogation.

      • It was her duty to do the opposite, as Eugene Forsey noted.

        If a GG can't refuse the PM, then we don't need a GG.

        Just a rubber stamp.

        • You're thinking that John de Chastelain or any of the other touted replacements if appointed by Harper would exercise more independence than Jean?

          • One would hope so. If not, then as I said, we don't need a GG.

            Harper will have his imperial presidency.

        • But she can refuse, for instance, to grant dissolution of Parliament. If the PM had asked for that in 2008, it would have been her duty to say no. The GG has traditionally been a rubber stamp, but that doesn't mean there aren't situations where she could say no to the PM. I just don't think she was presented with one of those opportunities.

          • She could have said no either time.

            And obviously two yeses didn't save her from getting the boot anyway.

        • Eugene Forsey – bless his memory – is departed.

          The exchange with WDM you have been having demonstrates, at the very least, that while sentiment may be on your side, it is at least debatable depending on your interpretation. I have heard and read learned souls argue both sides convincingly.

          To my mind, the key principle is not how well or how badly she has performed, but the concept that that her performance would be a key to a successive term. Because at that point, the only opinion that matters is that of the incumbent PM and the only performance that person will care about is whether or not the GG has behaved the way the Government wants.

          • And it was her job to make a decision keeping all that in mind.

            However she didn't decide. She just caved.

            Once was a freebie, twice was a dereliction of duty

            She is not supposed to 'behave the way the govt wants'…she is supposed to protect the country….as Forsey said.

          • Keeping all what in mind?

            As I said, you have a lot of public sentiment on your side and you are entitled to your conclusion. I will repeat that I have heard convincing arguments on both sides. I am still swaying both ways intellectually. Emotionally I am swaying in one direction more than the other.

            My point was that the more persuasive principle for me has nothig to do with how she performed. Or any other GG in history for that matter. To me the key consideration is whether or not the GG term should ever be completely renewable. I argue that it shoudl not, because it would potentially lead someone to conclude that the GG's decision was influenced by the desire to have a second term.

            Given your conclusion about Jean's decisions, you would probably entertain that thought at the very least if her term were renewable. Wouldn't you agree?

    • I don't necessarily disagree, but the issues you're noting are systemic. Under the current system, whether either of us like it or not, Jean was within her rights, and arguably it was her duty, to grant the Prime Minister prorogation.

  13. Since the office purports to be the Queen’s representative in Canada. Why not abolish the office (it’s not needed) or, as the Queen’s rep, let the Queen pay her/his salary

    • Tell you what, I'll pay your portion of the GG's salary for the next 5 years, if you'll pay my portion of the government's 10%ers.

    • Buckingham palace has enough financial problems of it's own right now.

  14. I just read Don Martin's column on the subject and nearly fell off my chair when he suggested that Rick "kill kill kill the scumbags" Hillier could be a contender.

    I really want to believe that Martin has lost his damn mind but then I am reminded of the kind of man we have for Prime Minister.

    I honestly wouldn't put it past him to go for Hillier.

    • I sensed that the government found Hillier to be a bit too independently minded and candid to suit their purposes. Can't see how they would want to see that in the GG.

  15. Jeff Jedras, on Twitter: "I wasn't on board with William Shatner for GG until I pictured him reading a throne speech. That. Would. Be. Totally. Awesome."

    • If that's the qualification, I wonder how quickly we can get Christopher Walken citizenship.

    • I can almost hear it, hahaha….

    • bongos and a bass in the background?

  16. Given the kind of GG appointment Harper is likely to make, based on his Senate appointments, I'd rather see Jean keep the job for a while longer. Somebody should do a poll.

  17. I'm of two minds on this. Michaelle Jean showed her worthiness in the manner she conducted herself as Governor General. She showed poise and made the right call time after time.

    She won me over as an everlasting fan when she ate the raw seal heart in Rankin Inlet, earning the enmity of Adrienne Clarkson and the other elites. She had a nice populist touch, best GG we've had in some time.

    On the other hand, I don't like having her separatist husband sleeping at Rideau Hall. There's incongruity and then there's incongruity. The closest the separatists should get to the seat of power is that group of whining block heads cooling their heals as a powerless rump in Parliament.

    So despite being a fan, she's gotta move on, and take that chump of a husband with her.

  18. Seconded. I like her, and I don't see why we need to replace her now.

  19. Harper has one goal with his governor-general pick: make sure that the governor-general will reject a coalition government. Not only will that ensure that a Tory plurality can govern for the next five years, it will also establish precedent beyond the term of that governor-general. It is plausible that the NDP+Liberals could have enough seats to form a government after the next election. Unlike the Dion coalition, they will not have the baggage of the least popular Liberal leader ever, or a dalliance with the Bloc Quebecois. It could govern without a massive revolt – but not if it is strangled in its cradle by the next governor-general.

  20. Make her Ambassador to Haiti.

    • This is along the lines of what I was thinking…I would love to see her somehow appointed as a leader of Canada's Haiti relief effort. I think she's been a fine GG, one of the best I can remember, but I have no problem with choosing a new one.