In the journalism game, we call it “burying the lede”. Friday’s Postmedia papers have a column by Stephen Maher in which he waxes utopian about “modernizing” Canada’s monarchy by introducing an elected head of state. “Pfaugh,” I hear you say, “I’ve read it all before.” For the most part, you have. After all, most of the heavy lifting in the argument is done by the mere use of the loaded word “modernizing”; who’s against modernity? Maher chats admiringly about other countries (Jamaica and Ireland) for a few hundred words before letting fly with an easily-overlooked bomblet of originality:
If the prime minister is able to hold consultative elections to select senators—a question the Supreme Court may ultimately decide—then surely we could select our governor-general the same way.
My reaction to this idea was: “Good heavens, I suppose that’s right.” I’ve never heard anyone suggest it before, even in technical literature on the constitution. But like Senate elections, it would appear to be a natural consequence of responsible government: the prime minister can presumably use whatever process he likes—a reality show, a Ouija board, a lottery—to arrive at a candidate for recommendation to the Queen.
It’s hard even to count the things that would have to happen before it would be in some credible political leader’s interests to advocate an elected governor-general. But, then, it wasn’t political leadership that got the Senate-reform ball rolling in the first place.