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Canada Skepticism of celebrity should be a key factor in governor general pick, former advisory panel member says

15:50  24 january  2021
15:50  24 january  2021 Source:   cbc.ca

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Most governors general occupy Rideau Hall for a standard term of five years, unless asked to stay on. Never before has one resigned amid a cloud of scandal Wudrick pointed out it's been two years since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to review the program that allows former governors general to

Julie Payette, a former Canadian astronaut and the country's governor general since 2017, announced she would step down The report was completed and submitted to the government earlier this week and that prompted Payette's resignation. "I am a strong believer in the principles of natural

a man wearing a suit and tie: An advisory committee tasked to find then prime minister Stephen Harper's next governor general put David Johnston on their short list of candidates. He was ultimately Harper's pick. © Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press An advisory committee tasked to find then prime minister Stephen Harper's next governor general put David Johnston on their short list of candidates. He was ultimately Harper's pick.

When an advisory committee was tasked with helping to find a new governor general in 2010, it was urged to look closely at each candidate's "judgment and temperament," and to be skeptical of "simple celebrity," a former member says.

Rainer Knopff, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Calgary, said he thinks such a committee —  like the one created then by the Stephen Harper government — should be re-established.

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Canada's governor general - the Queen's representative - has resigned amid allegations she presided over a toxic work environment in which staff "I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed. Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times," Ms Payette said

Members of the panel contributed their advice and recommendations on a voluntary basis: Dr. Bob Bell, Chair, Former Ontario Deputy Minister of Health and former President and CEO of University Health Network. Bob agreed to participate in and chair this advisory committee on a voluntary basis.

His comments follow the resignation of Julie Payette as governor general. The former astronaut left the post after a workplace review found she presided over a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall.

"We took our time doing it thoroughly," Knopff said in an email to CBC News. "We were to prioritize substantially accomplished people, but to be skeptical of simple celebrity."

"It was to be a capstone appointment for a fully developed career, not a mid-life stepping-stone appointment," Knopff said. "Judgment and temperament were key."

Knopff's six-member committee was chaired by longtime public servant and secretary to the governor general Sheila-Marie Cook. Other members included Kevin MacLeod, who was Canadian secretary to the Queen, along with historians and political scientists.

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The Governor General , just like the Queen, has great responsibilities but both are expected to never express an opinion that could have political ramification, be it on the most banal topics. Payette is an extraordinary person, engineer, astronaut, pilot, diver and a scientist who speaks multiple languages

While the Governor General is a largely symbolic position, it does have some constitutional importance, particularly during a minority government such as the one Canada has now. In 2008, former prime minister Stephen Harper asked then- governor general Michaëlle Jean to prorogue

Christopher McCreery, private secretary to the lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia and one of the committee members, wrote in the book The Crown and Parliament that the committee was looking for candidates who had an understanding of the system of government, their constitutional duties and a respect for the Crown's position in Canadian society.

'Lifetime of achievement'

Candidates also had to have gained  "considerable experience through a lifetime of achievement" and understand the constraints and opportunities offered by vice-regal service, McCreery wrote.


Video: Trudeau criticized for appointing Payette as Governor General (Global News)

Panel members contacted lieutenant governors, premiers, retired politicians, state officials and public figures from a wide variety of fields. Several hundred names were compiled, he said.

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In the end, the committee presented Harper with a three-person short list.

"David Johnston topped the list," Knopff said. "Worked pretty well, I'd say."

In 2012, Harper made the committee permanent, renaming it the Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments. It did come up with short lists for lieutenant governors and territorial commissioners, and it was to do the same for the new governor general in 2017.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau abandoned the process when it came to choosing Payette.

Call to reestablish advisory committee

"Prime Minister Trudeau, because of his vanity, put aside [a] committee created by the Conservatives that did a good job and decided all by himself what is good for Canada," said Conservative House Leader Gerard Deltell

"Well now we see the result."

The Conservatives are now calling on Trudeau to consult opposition parties and reestablish the advisory committee  when choosing the next governor general.

Although potential red flags about Payette's behaviour had been raised by former employers, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Trudeau was more interested in "seeking a flashy headline" than conducting a proper vetting.

"Really it comes down to Justin Trudeau, who is more interested in a flashy announcement as a governor general rather than doing the work of making sure it was the right selection," he said.

On Friday, Trudeau was asked by reporters about his decision not to use a selection committee in 2017.

"We will continue to the look at the best way to the select people for the vice regal appointments," he said. "It is an important role for Canadians and we'll look at how we can improve it."

It's time for a First Nations person to be governor general: Bellegarde .
OTTAWA — With a growing sentiment that Julie Payette's abrupt departure from Rideau Hall provides an opportunity for Canada to have its first Indigenous governor general, Perry Bellegarde laughs when asked if he's been taking French lessons. "Maybe," Bellegarde said Thursday in an interview with The Canadian Press. Bellegarde, who is not seeking re-election as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations next July, said he has not been formally approached by "any person in decision-making authority" regarding the job and that he is focused on his current one till it's done.

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This is interesting!