Ottawa REALity January, 2018
What’s with the last three female Governors-General? They lack common sense and they have a startling lack of understanding of their role. The role of the Governor-General is largely a ceremonial one, and is supposed to be a unifying symbol in our system of government with the Queen as its head. There are two primary duties of a Governor-General: exercising certain powers on behalf of the Queen, and serving as a unifying figure for all Canadians, even those with whom he or she disagrees.
The female Governors-General have not been helpful in this regard.
Adrienne Clarkson – (1999 – 2005)
Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed Adrienne Clarkson Governor-General in 1999. She proved to be an expensive burden to Canada. She and her writer husband, John Ralston Saul, believed themselves to be “intellectuals”, learned in the arts and culture, and believed that Canadians should be honoured by their presence at Rideau Hall. The fact is, Clarkson and her husband were pretentious, self-promoting opportunists. As one wit stated: “Now that Clarkson and her husband Saul have been installed in Rideau Hall with free rent, food, servants, free limo and jet rides, maybe Saul could stop applying for Canada Council Grants on which he relied to write his largely unintelligible books.”
Before her appointment, Clarkson was a broadcast journalist, a feminist activist and board member of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL). She pushed feminism at every opportunity on her CBC current affairs program. Her activism continued as Governor-General when she sent a congratulatory letter, in January, 2001, to a homosexual couple in Toronto when they went through a fraudulent form of marriage at a homosexual church, presided over by controversial, homosexual pastor, Brent Hawkes.
As a former employee of the CBC, Clarkson had a lot of experience spending taxpayers’ money. She and Saul lapped up the luxury at Rideau Hall and refused to be accountable for their expenses. They squandered unbelievable sums of money on their lifestyle. During her term of office, the budget at Rideau Hall skyrocketed from $11 million to $19 million. Some of Clarkson’s expenses included:
- Doubling the staff at Rideau Hall;
- In the last two years of her appointment, Clarkson and her husband flew to New York City on government aircraft ten times. She refused to disclose the purpose of these overnight trips (to see a Broadway show, perhaps?) The military Challenger aircraft costs $2,032 per hour to fly, totalling $48,564 for these ten trips. This did not include salaries for air and ground personnel, support and engineering, services, holding facilities, security and crew training services associated with Challenger;
- In 2003, Clarkson and her husband headed an entourage of 60 of their dearest friends and associates, consisting of artists and other luminaries, on a tour of Russia, Finland, Iceland and the Baltics, which cost the taxpayers $5 million.
In 2011, six years after her departure from office, Clarkson demanded $500,000 from the taxpayers to cover secretarial services which she claimed were required to respond to correspondence relating to her term of office as Governor-General. During this six year period, Clarkson wrote her memoirs (2007) for the supposed delight of Canadians, to allow them to marvel at her great personal achievements. In 2011, she published a book exalting Canadian Communist Norman Bethune’s contribution to communist China. Likely, the $500,000 she demanded included secretarial services to produce these books.
Michaelle Jean (2005 – 2010)
The next Governor-General, Michaelle Jean, was appointed by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin. In her previous life, Jean was also a CBC journalist in Montreal. It didn’t take long for problems to emerge with her appointment. There was the problem of her apparent support for Quebec separation. Jean had cavorted on film with separatist supporters and raised a glass to Quebec independence. Her husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, had written a book in which he compared the plight of Quebec to that of ex-colonial Caribbean nations struggling against “the transnational techno-capitalism Mafia”. M. Jean-Daniel Lafond was a former philosophy professor from France who became a filmmaker in Quebec. Jean also established her left wing credentials by participating in a documentary in which she celebrated the 40-year rule of Cuban communist dictator Fidel Castro. Both Jean and her husband were citizens of France, as well as Canada, but due to adverse comments at the time of her appointment, Jean gave up her French citizenship. Jean had to make a face-saving statement saying she really did believe in Canada. What an extraordinary declaration for a Governor-General to be obliged to make!
Born in Haiti and emigrating to Canada as a child, Jean was a lightweight with little or no grasp of Canadian history, culture or traditions. She also appears to have had an imperfect understanding of the role of Governor-General. Not being blessed with discernment or independent thought, she backed every politically correct position available. Her partisan, left-based views are evidenced in her speeches, which amounted only to a re-hashing of the left wing political agenda. They were frequently about women suffering from discrimination or violence for which, of course, feminism was the answer.
Canadians could, perhaps, live with Jean’s inconsequential feminist speeches, but what was unacceptable was her political meddling. She seemed to believe that it was her role to publicly scold and embarrass the Conservative government when it deviated from her own left-wing agenda. For example, she:
- Hosted a private dinner party at Rideau Hall in October 2006, which was attended by outspoken critics of the Afghanistan war. The pretext for the party was to supposedly honour Afghanistan’s Prime Minister Hamid Karzai. No cabinet ministers were invited. Although Jean was a political neophyte and lacked the experience of the seasoned and astute Queen Elizabeth, Jean felt competent to use her position at Rideau Hall to trespass on a political issue.
- On April 16, 2007, on the occasion of the celebration of the 25-year anniversary of the Charter of Rights, Jean took the opportunity to claim that vulnerable groups do not have access to the “justice system”. She declared that Canada was at a crossroads and spoke darkly about the need to resist the temptation to deny our fellow citizens their most basic rights. Her comments came at the same time that the Conservative party was being criticized in the House of Commons for withdrawing funding from the notorious Court Challenges Program.
Jean was also no slacker in her love of luxury. Two days before her installation, she stayed with her family and friends at Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier Hotel. This cost the taxpayers $7,750.00. Jean had the time of her life, loving the attention, the luxury, the clothes, and the travel. In her view it was all about her. The history, purpose and the responsibilities, apart from a few scattered trendy speeches, of her high office appeared to sit lightly on her shoulders. For example, she declined to swear in the new cabinet ministers in the January, 2007 cabinet shuffle, an important part of her constitutional duties, because she wanted to spend time with her husband and daughter after returning from a trip to Africa.
Two weeks before she vacated her office as Governor-General, Jean threw a shindig at Rideau Hall inviting every extremist feminist from across the land to attend a lavish conference at the taxpayers’ expense. She wanted to thank the attendee feminists for all their excellent work and to encourage them in their efforts to continue as agents of change, as she stepped down from office.
Julie Payette (October, 2017)
Next up in the female Governor-General category is Julie Payette, a former astronaut and engineer appointed in October, 2017. Scarcely a month into her appointment as Governor-General, in her first major speech, Payette pronounced personal beliefs with great certainty, while mocking those who had different beliefs on such issues as climate change, or held a religious faith, which included such foolishness as Creation.
In a November 4, 2017 editorial, the National Post diplomatically suggested that Payette was on a learning curve, and that hopefully she will learn from her mistake. Other columnists and editorials in the National Post and other major newspapers took her to task for her appalling ignorance about the role of the Governor-General. Payette seems to have the bizarre notion that her position as Governor-General provides her with a platform to promote her personal opinions to enlighten the ignorant public.
If she wasn’t aware of her responsibilities as Governor-General, why didn’t the Prime Minister’s office see that she was properly instructed? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, according to newspaper reports, was thrilled with his choice of Payette as Governor-General. Look at her, she is French speaking, an engineer and astronaut! Trudeau was seeking, as always, optics over prudent judgment. Rumour has it that the Prime Minister was so excited about appointing Payette, that he didn’t even bother to investigate her background before the appointment. If it had been done, he would have found some troubling facts which should have indicated a certain lack of judgment on her part.
It appears, however, that Trudeau is just as ignorant as Payette about the duties of a Governor-General. He defended her mocking speech, stating that his government was grounded in science:
And I am extraordinarily proud of the strength and the story of our Governor General, Julie Payette, who has never hidden away her passion for science and her deep faith that knowledge, research and the truth is a foundation for any free, stable, successful society.
Opposition leader Andrew Scheer responded to Trudeau’s comment on Payette’s gaffe:
It is extremely disappointing that the Prime Minister will not support Indigenous peoples, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Christians and other faith groups who believe there is truth in their religion. …
Respect for diversity includes respect for the diversity of religious beliefs, and Justin Trudeau has offended millions of Canadians with his comments.
Trudeau’s unfortunate comments have raised serious questions as to whether Payette can be impartial in future, if she should be asked to decide who should form a government, or whether to accept a recommendation to prorogue or dissolve Parliament. She and Trudeau are obviously on the same political wave length.
David Johnston (2010 – 2017)
In contrast, Payette’s immediate predecessor Governor-General David Johnston supported by his competent wife, Sharon, never put a wrong foot forward in his role as Governor-General. Oops, he did put a steadying hand on the Queen’s elbow when she descended some slippery steps in London shortly before he retired. Protocol requires that the Queen not be touched. This is the case, with the exception of Michelle Obama, who put a friendly arm around the Queen while they were walking together at Buckingham Palace. According to the pro Obama media, this was not a concern, merely a minor misunderstanding of protocol, which the latter didn’t apply to Obama and wife, but apparently did apply to Governor-General Johnston.
David Johnston’s stellar performance as Governor-General may be due to the fact that he is a distinguished legal scholar, former president of McGill University and Waterloo University and was not a pretentious, self-seeking opportunist, unlike Canada’s female Governors-General. He obviously understood the fundamentals and purpose of the ceremonial role of the Governor-General.
The female Governors-General have done a disservice to their office by undermining and discrediting it.