A gentle reminder - Macleans.ca

A gentle reminder


The Prime Minister clarifies the Governor General’s place in the hierarchy.

“Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Canada and Head of State,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement issued to Canwest News Service on Thursday. “The Governor General represents the Crown in Canada.”

The extraordinary reminder from the country’s head of government to its top viceregal representative follows an uproar over Jean’s use of the phrase “head of state” when referring to herself during a speech in Paris on Monday.

Mind you, specific issues of protocol, such as whether the Prime Minister is entitled to a salute and to what degree John Baird can overrule the Governor General, are often subject to interpretation.


A gentle reminder

  1. "Mind you, specific issues of protocol, such as whether the Prime Minister is entitled to a salute and to what degree John Baird can overrule the Governor General, are often subject to interpretation."


  2. Aaron doesnt respect the research of his commentators

    this is from the last time this salute thing came up….pg 292 shows the PM is entitled to a salute.


    And the clarification is correct, so whats the problem?

    • The problem is Mr. Wherry's inability to say anything about the current government without trying to include some juvenile insult.

      • Puffin Poop. This is hardly juvenile.

        "Mind you, specific issues of protocol, such as whether the Prime Minister is entitled to a salute and to what degree John Baird can overrule the Governor General, are often subject to interpretation."

        • It's the perpetual sneer that is juvenile. Taking a skeptical view of politicians is one thing, but an unrelenting tone of contempt for one party, mingled with spasms of unquestioning enthusiasm for another is more than a little tiresome in a journalist. Especially in one who occasionally shows the capacity for doing better.

          • "…mingled with spasms of unquestioning enthusiasm for another is more than a little tiresome in a journalist…"

            Speaking of sneering…

    • From the discussion back then, it does appear to be completely accurate for Wherry to state that the matter is subject to some interpretation.

  3. I think Wherry is simply trying to impress Susan Delacourt.

  4. I find it funny that it's the PMO that feels the need to issue this correction. Probably figures if he can't have the title, he'll make sure that nobody thinks some other Canadian does.

  5. No class. This PM has no class.

    Here is Jean going around the country, going around the world, doing a fantastic job singing the praises of Canada, supporting the seal hunt and Inuit culture, rallying the troops with strong emotional words that the Prime Minister doesn't even attempt… and he has to publicly embarrass her for a technicality?

    Why not just tell her she's wrong and ask her to make a public correction? Why the public statement criticising her? Was that necessary?

    After all, he's only PM right now because she allowed him to cancel Parliament rather than face a confidence vote, an incredibly unprecedented anti-democratic move that has never been done in Canadian, Australian or British history.

    • It's not a matter of "class", nor is it simply a technicality. I agree, the Governor General has been doing an excellent job, but her unfortunate remarks were widely reported and it is entirely appropriate for the government to make the matter clear for Canadians, lest they be inadvertently confused by the GGs comments. I think asking her to make a correction would be more embarassing for her than this simple press release.

      • First of all, it has not been widely reported.

        Second of all, who is really "inadvertently confused" by the GGs comments and with what adverse consequences?

        Third of all, a public reprimand by the PM is most certainly more embarrassing than a quiet correction of her own.

        This was rude, distracts from the the good work she has been doing, and is a deliberate attempt to cut her down a peg.

        • Well, I guess "widely reported" is a term of art, not science. But her remarks were public and had caused considerable comment, among those who are concerned about such issues ( a small but genteel group, I know). Canadians are easily confused about our constitution, as the debates around the prorogation of parliament illustrated. It surely is a laudable goal of any government to help ensure they are not confused about the status of one of the key elements of that constitution.

          I haven't seen the actual press release, but its reported version doesn't sound like a "reprimand", but a simple statement of constitutional fact – Her Majesty is our head of state, not the Governor General. Sine the heir to the throne is going to be visiting soon, perhaps the government thought it would be appropriate to remind people fo the role of the Crown in our government.

          I don't think this is anything more than an attempt to stop a debate over the Governor General's poorly chosen words before it spiralled into something else.

          • "Canadians are easily confused about our constitution"

            That cracks me up.

            SayAnything Steve (I like that) thinks he is the guy to lecture us about the constitution, after the way he behaved in December!

          • He behaved entirely within the terms of the constitution in December, as did the Governor General. Had the opposition parties wanted to do anything about it once Parliament resumed in January they had the opportunity to do so at the time. They chose not to (a mistake I think even Mr. Ignatieff might now recognize). Anyway, the Governor General acted entirely within her authority then, and having taken sensible advice.

            The government's clarification of its understanding of the role of the Governor General seems entirely reasonable.

          • After he used to words 'Coup D'Etat', he lost any moral authority to lecture anyone about how our democracy works.

    • You crack me up, OSL. Do you really believe this stuff? This was the gentlest of reminders, not a "public embarrassment" as you claim. The correction needed to be public (albeit low key) because the GG's error was public.

      • Did it really need to be corrected, CR? What dire consequence have we avoided as a result of Harper heroic actions? Did the stock market tank because bond traders in NY thought a coup was underway with a new head of state? Was the Queen calling the troops to gather thinking she had been deposed and needed to storm Rideau Hall and re-take Canada? Come on.

        But if it was so critical that the public record be corrected immediately and publicly, why not ask her to make the public correction instead of criticising her?

        • It would have been much worse to insist that the GG make the correction herself. A correction needed to be made, and a low-key press release was probably the most delicate way to handle it.

          • No one is suggesting that Jean hold a press conference and cry for the camera. Requesting Rideau Hall to make a subtle press release correcting a misstatement in the GG's remarks would have been much less embarrassing. Those kinds of press releases are made all the time.

            This was clearly intended to be a shot across Rideau Hall's bow.

          • would you have know o f the 'incident' had it not been corrected CR?

      • Gentlest of reminders? Are you drunk?

        • No, are you? Not that I'd blame you if you were. Those poll numbers this morning must have been very depressing.

          • "Not that I'd blame you if you were. Those poll numbers this morning must have been very depressing.."

            Save that well-intentioned counsel for your children.

            I win!

  6. I wonder if Canada will ever grow up and have the courage to be a completely sovereign country.
    How insecure must we be, that we need an anachronism from the 19th century, a hopelessly inbred German family, living on a small island in the North Sea to kneel down to as some kind of security blanket?

    We could have a Governor-General as the figurative 'head of state' to be our ambassador for official functions without he or she representing the head of state of a foreign country. This allows us to criticize the PM of the day without discrediting our country's official head of state. Unlike the US where the President is also the head of state and is for the most part above the law.

  7. Say Anything Steve, and especially Say Anything's staff, do not like it and will not tolerate it when someone else takes any of the limelight away from him.

    They've been steaming ever since Jean upstaged them with the seal eating successful PR move. And absolutely outraged that she would get such glowing reports for her rally the troops speeches over in Afghanistan, using eloquence to show support and justify their work in a way that Say Anything never could. Upstaged again.

    She had to be cut down a peg or two and they jumped on the chance.

  8. How dare you embarrass His Harperness by pointing out the constitutional ignorance of his caucus, Wherry?

    Off with his head!

  9. Who will correct the prime minister the next time he claims that Canadians elected his government?

    • Who going to correct Canadians that think they elect who governs this country?

      Coalition windbags, grasping at Parliamentary convention, to overturn election results they don't like…

      Thats who.

  10. The GG also represents the Crown outside of Canada when she travels abroad on official visits.

    • True, but she remains the Queen of Canada's representative, not a head of state in her own right, as she unfortunately suggested.

  11. Just to be clear, by using the words coup d'etat, he was accusing the opposition of high treason.

    • Really? High treason in peacetime involves a threat to the life of the monarch. I don't recall anyone implying the opposition parties were going that far. Perhaps you were reading a little too much into the somewhat overheated political rhetoric of those days?

      And I don't see the relevance, in any case, of a bit of parliamentary name-calling to the question of whether the government should have bothered to take the time this week to correct any possible misapprehension as to the constitutional role of the Governor General.

      • "Coup d'etat" implies the illegal overthrow of the government. And it is Her Majesty's government. Sounds like treason to me.

        • Treason and high treason are defined offences under the criminal code. One is not the same as the other. You could look it up.

          Of course, I gather your complaint is really that the debate over the proposed coalition became a bity hystrionic. I'm not denying that, on both sides. But I don't see much relevance to any current issues.

  12. As I sit in the large recreation hall at the senior centre the television monitor is showing the prime minister is coming on… thoughout the hall..there is no cheering or clapping…just a load groan….I ask myself…myself how come this guy get such high marks in polls when everyone cant stand him.??????? Certainly is a mystery.

    • Because pollsters don't restrict their calls to those who are paying attention.