Monday, May 03, 2010

Does Canada Need a Royal?

There has been plenty of pomp over Canada’s official royal representative – the Governor General – of late
Michaelle Jean’s five-year term is coming to a close, and the Prime Minister has already said he’s considering people to replace her, which has raised questions about the working relationship between the two, as many Governor Generals terms have been extended by their boss – the Prime Minister.

Even the opposing Liberal Party leader, Michael Ignatieff is urging the Conservative Prime Minister to extend Jean’s term – which is rare, because usually the Governor General is hand chosen by the ruling party to rubber stamp anything the Prime Minister wants.

Which is why we really need to take a look at whether or not the whole role of Governor General should even be.

Although Michael Jean has done a remarkable role representing Canada internationally, most of her job is – well – just a lot of pomp and ceremony.
Technically the governor general is the Queen’s representative in Canada, she’s our official head of state.

As such, she has the power to disband the current government, name a new one in its place, or even prorogue Parliament – which she did at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s request.

That further begs the question about the existence of the role of the governor general, because she has the power to end, delay or replace our federal government – yet she answers to the person who appointed her into her job – her boss, the Prime Minister.

Though the Governor General’s website claims the role is non-partisan, how could anyone say no to a request from their boss?

And if the role of governor general really is non-political, how come the person in that role has such broad sweeping powers over a political entity?

Though here’s where the non-political involvement becomes political – Jean was appointed by former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2005. Because her five-year term is ending, the now Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to appoint someone new, who will answer to him.

Several names have been floated as potential successors, including disabled-rights campaigner Rick Hansen; former defence chief John de Chastelain; Inuit leader Mary Simon and Reform party founder Preston Manning.

But for this Trekkie, I’ve got to put my support behind Montreal-born actor William Shatner, most known for his recurring role as Captain James T. Kirk in the Star Trek franchise.

A Facebook site was put up for Shatner by a Canadian technology reporter, and it has grown into quite a large campaign, with thousands of people joining in.
That is of course if we still have a governor general.

For all intents and purposes, the role places too much political power into the hands of one person, who is largely more of a figure head.

What this country needs is real leaders, with real political power.

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