Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a very difficult decision to make in the next few weeks. No it is not about COVID-19 vaccinations, or how to get the country out of a pandemic-ravaged recession/depression. Trudeau has to pick who will be the next Governor General.
Like many Canadians, I am disappointed that Julie Payette did not work out as GG. Selecting an astronaut who speaks multiple languages, and has had a distinguished career should have been a no-brainer. Maybe she was overqualified for the job and that is why things went sideways. The job does not look difficult. Preside over some ceremonies, sign some bills, host dignitaries when they visit the country. It’s not rocket science.
Of course the allegations which prompted her resignation are serious, but the country must move forward. We need a GG. Now is not the time to debate the merits of if, after 150 plus years, Canada is a mature enough country to elect the head of state. That is a debate to never have some other time.
The GG is the head of state when the Queen of England is not visiting. The constitution says we are required to have one and in a minority government situation, the position has extra importance. The GG determines if we are going to have an election. So who is going to be the next GG? I have some thoughts.
My first suggestion is astronaut Chris Hadfield. He is personable, good with the media, loves explaining things. And he is an astronaut â€“ that is a qualification for being GG now, right?
Next up, William Shatner. He hasnâ€™t been in space, but what is cooler than the guy who played James T. Kirk, T.J. Booker, and Denny Crane as your GG? Not that much. Sadly Shatner has already said he is not interested in the job, so we have to move on.
Decades ago, when Canada still didnâ€™t pick its own GG, Queen Victoriaâ€™s son Prince Arthur held the plum patronage appointment. Given the fall out in the current edition of the Royal Family, why not offer Prince Harry the job? Being the GG should not get in the way of his Netflix deal. Partnering Prince Harry and the GG job together, then taxing it might help pay down some of Canadaâ€™s debt.
In recent decades, working for the CBC was seen to be a prerequisite for the post. Peter Mansbridge is a good choice, he is sensible and steady. Ian Hanomansing fits that bill too. If you wanted to mix it up a bit, you could choose to go with a private broadcaster and pick Lloyd Robertson or Lisa LaFlamme. There were over 200 people just downsized from CTV and TSN so there are plenty of personalities who are in need of a job.
Funny people can be GG too. Rick Mercer was great at highlighting places and people across the country. Why not do so and sign some bills too. Catherine Oâ€™Hara would be great in this role too. We have some great musical talent in Canada, why not celebrate it with a patronage appointment? It is like working for the CBC already.
Randy Bachman could take care of business at Rideau Hall; you oughta know Alanis Morissette would be an ironic choice; Kim Mitchell would be okay but the patio lanterns may not fit with the decor. If you want to get more youth interested in politics, Drake is an obvious choice.
Trudeau could be sensible and appoint an Indigenous person to the post. Tom Jackson, Murray Sinclair, or Jody Wilson-Raybould are all good examples. I donâ€™t think the PM would like the optics of the latter choice.
If the Prime Minister really wanted to kill two birds with one stone, he could fill the GG role and help with job creation at the same time. Canada has about a nine per cent unemployment rate, thatâ€™s about 1.8 million people. Select a few qualified individuals from the list, conduct interviews, and then hire one. Maybe keep a few on a short list, just in case.
Canadian job creation in itâ€™s best form. Problem solved!
Originally published in the February 24, 2021 issue of The Leader.