The recent visit of President Obama and his meeting with Governor General Michaëlle Jean got me thinking about how confusing our government structure must be to visiting heads of state. Here is the U.S. president discussing the situation in Haiti with the Governor General who represents the Crown in Canada and carries out the duties of Head of State. Two heads of state discussing the problems and challenges of a third nation. How nice.
But President Obama might as well have spoken to the average Haitian immigrant on the streets of Toronto or Montreal. Our GG has little more real political power than they do.
Canada has a sovereign and Head of State with no real powers and virtually no ceremonial responsibilities. And because she is a foreigner and lives thousands of miles away, we have her local representative, the Governor General who, at least, is a Canadian, but also has very little real power—hers is almost entirely a ceremonial role.
It’s time to retire this archaic, confusing institution.
Many Canadians adamantly claim we have separation of church and state, even though our Charter of Rights and Freedoms begins with the statement,
Then we have the senate. If Canada is to have a bicameral parliamentary system (and I think it should), isn’t it time we had an upper house that is accountable to the people and has real powers? A significant proportion of our population does not even know what this place does. Was not the Senate supposed to be comprised of economic and social elites who would act as a check on the “commoners” or “lower classes,” of the democratically elected House of Commons. How relevant is this in 2009?
Governor General Michaëlle Jean is Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces for Pete’s sake. This is ridiculously absurd.
How many figureheads and meaningless, obsolete government institutions does one country need? At what point do we cut our ridicously outdated ties with our foreign Queen?