Prime Minister Stephen Harper asks—through the Queen’s Canadian secretary—opposition leaders for input on his choice of our next governor general, and the leader of the official opposition, Michael Ignatieff, blabs to the media that he wants Michaëlle Jean’s appointment extended by a year or two, even though it has been made clear that the decision not to extend her term had already been made.
Ignatieff just can’t help putting his political foot in his mouth, can he? He is given the chance to show he can be non-partisan about this symbolically important appointment and he has to be mischievous.
Instead of allowing her to finish her term with the dignity she so well deserves, thanks to Michael Ignatieff Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean will hear her name used by the media as a political football and her term will end in political controversy—she deserves better, much better.
For the year he has been leader of the LPC, Ignatieff has demonstrated time and again that he lacks the stuff of which statesmen are made.
All but Ignatieff’s most ardent supporters and, presumably, himself seem to agree his advice to the prime minister on this sensitive subject should be considered confidential and that it was a gaffe to blab it to the media.
Ignatieff issued a news release and called a news conference during which he referenced the GG’s race and gender, and crassly demanded her appointment be extended. And, in so doing, he has compromised the GG by making her a subject of partisan politics.
According to the Globe and Mail1, University of Toronto’s political scientist and constitutional scholar Peter Russell described Michael Ignatieff’s decision to make political hay over the appointment of a new governor general as inappropriate, very unhelpful and unwise.
The Globe and Mail is not known as being pro-Conservative, in fact, it has a decidedly pro-Liberal editorial slant. Yet even this newspaper cannot understand what Ignatieff hopes to gain here. Here’s a quote from the Globe:
“There is also an implication that somehow Mr. Harper is behaving improperly, that following the prorogation debate, there is another sinister Conservative plot afoot to defy constitutional norms. In fact, there is no wrong, no indignity, being directed at Ms. Jean. She has been a charismatic and somewhat successful viceroy, but the expected term of office for the Queen’s representative is five years. Sometimes, that term is extended, sometimes it is not. It is notable that four of the last six governors-general have served five years or less. What precisely is to be gained by politicizing Ms. Jean in this way, all in order to drag her departure out for another year or so?”
Ignatieff’s indiscretion does beg the question: can the man be trusted with any confidential information the prime minister may which to share in the future? I suggest he can’t.
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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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