The Governor General and First Nations

Emmett Macfarlane considers the Governor General and his place, or lack thereof, in the current discussion.

The governor general’s role is almost entirely symbolic, in that it reflects the source of sovereign power in the Canadian state. But that power should only be exercised by state institutions, comprising the executive, legislature and judiciary. The governor general plays no political or policy role. He has no autonomous capacity to act in First Nations’ interest. Nor does the Queen, for that matter, and if she tried, it would rightly be regarded as an affront to Canadian constitutionalism.

This does not mean the governor general cannot or should not meet with First Nations. In fact, he was present at last year’s Crown-First Nations “gathering” which was meant to mark renewal in the relationship. But it would be inappropriate for the governor general to attend today’s meeting, which was the product of political protest and which is supposed to focus on policy demands (such as those concerning the government’s omnibus legislation).




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The Governor General and First Nations

  1. Interesting article.

  2. “Inappropriate”…What rubbish! I’m surprised at you of all people Emmett. He could have at least opened the meeting and chatted for a while or something.As Rae said, what’s the big deal him being there, if only in a symbolic role? No one’s is asking him to take sides.

    While it’s true his role is almost entirely symbolic, that IS the point for FNs.
    It has famously been said that there are two solitudes in this country; in fact there are three at least, FNs being the other mostly silent and very much junior partner. It is striking just how little is known about how differently FNs have always viewed this relationship with Canada. Previous generations of FNs often had pictures of the Queen hung in their homes[ i don't know if this tradition continues] to symbolize this fact.[ how many patriotic Canadians can say that today?]
    If it is inappropriate it is only so from a non Aboriginal perspective. Would it have cost us so much to bend a little more their way? I don’t think so. Look at the chaos that has resulted from us getting hung up about a ceremonial relic you have just said doesn’t much matter today. It matters for them – that is the point.

    • ‘While it’s true his role is almost entirely symbolic, that IS the point for FNs.’

      Thank you kcm2

    • I thought the whole point of these meetings was to get PAST symbolism and get something of substance done? Is starting the whole thing off with a symbolic gesture really the way to go when you want to avoid symbolism?

      • Are you just being a clever dick or are you actually serious?

  3. Of course the GG has no place at any kind of negotiation. If you want to negotiate with Canada, you negotiate with the Government of Canada. Some of these people seem to WANT to be living in the 1700s again.

    • You really are that dense then.

      • And you can’t make a point beyond name-calling. But thanks for coming out you ignorant twat. Now go cry about how unfair the world is and how you’ve just got such a rotten lot in life, while still somehow feeling superior to everybody.

        Only a child can’t just disagree with someone without having to resort to name calling. Now GFY.

        • “Only a child can’t just disagree with someone without having to resort to name calling. Now GFY.”

          lol…almost had me. Pity irony isn’t your strong suit.

  4. This meeting appears to be a good start. However the Governor General could of attended for symbolic reasons, he represents the crown. The elites such as the Prime Minister and the
    Governor General need to become less hierarchical and join with the First Nations people in addressing issues about the environment, global warming, the development of resources, on or near First Nations land and the equal sharing of these resources. I hope that there are subsequent meetings that are inclusive of First Nations Youth who need educational, training and employment opportunities. The First Nations are a bright and wise people their socio/economic and political action is not going to stop.

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