Yesterday afternoon I sat down with the Governor General for one of her final interviews before she leaves Rideau later this week. A fuller accounting of that conversation will appear in this week’s issue of the magazine, but for now, here is what was asked and what was said about the decision to grant the Prime Minister’s request to prorogue Parliament in 2008.
Q: What can you say at this point about the decision to prorogue Parliament in December of 2008?
A: I think you know, by constitutional convention I cannot go into details about the conversation with the prime minister because the conversation between the governor general and the prime minister has to be confidential. But I thought that it was quite interesting to see that this was a moment in our country to reflect on, ‘Okay, how does our system work?’ I think it was a labour of raising awareness and raising also the responsibility of being well informed and of making the effort to learn about our political system. Because there’s going to be before and after. From now on, people realize that the governor general has a role. The governor general has to analyze, think, make a choice. My preoccupation was really to make the best decision in the interest of the country. What was best for the country.
Q: In terms of what informed or guided you, was it the best interests of the country, full stop?
A: History will judge. But I think that everything that I anticipated happened. And this was part of my thoughts.
Make of that what you will. (For whatever it could possibly be worth, the Governor General’s exact phrasing was “I have anticipated,” but I removed the word “have” on the belief that it was a grammatical slip—English not being Ms. Jean’s first language.)