I pity the Governor-General. Most often, I suspect the job is pleasant enough, perhaps even a tad boring: Endless receptions, formal events, travel and smiling...lots of smiling.
The job's current occupant though has twice in 12 months had to acquiesce to requests from the Government that have made a majority of Canadians at least cringe; if not recoil with disappointment.
The relationship between the Governor-General, Michaelle Jean, and the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is said to be frosty...appropriate enough for Ottawa in mid-winter. I digress!
It has been like that for some time, not just since one or perhaps even both sides threatened to involve The Queen in last year's unpleasant confrontation over the December 2008 prorogation of the House of Commons. Then, most recall, the Prime Minister went begging virtually hat-in-hand for the GG to nix Stephane Dion's coalition of the willing takeover of Parliament and the Government. This time, a simple Wednesday morning phone call apparently did the trick.
In politics sometimes it doesn't take very much to make enemies. Perhaps the mere fact that Mme Jean was selected by Liberal Prime-Minister Paul Martin is enough to have caused the friction between the current cross street neighbours of Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex Drive. Twin prorogations aside: The Prime Minister's office virtually ignored protocol in February 2009 during President Obama's visit. Mme Jean's greeting and subsequent 15 minute meeting with the newly minted U.S. President in an Ottawa airport hangar was a last minute add-on. One from which Michaelle Jean stole the show and the American media's short attention span.
Then Harper and the GG quarreled just a few month's back about the definition of "Head Of State" and just about had to have Buckingham Palace clear the air over that one. Our 83 year-old Queen could not have been amused.
In early March Madame Jean will deliver the Harper Government's "Speech From The Throne", followed the very next day by the 2010 Federal Budget. Ottawa is frenzied over speculation this Harper inspired "one-two punch" in the afterglow of the Vancouver/Whistler Olympic Games, means the country will be blessed with yet another Federal election in the spring. The odds-on favorite date apparently, one week from Easter Monday: Monday, April 12. Mon Dieu! Contempt for Parliament...blah, blah, blah; so say opposition critics left to blather to the holiday editions of the newspapers after Harper cagily pulled the rug out from under the latest session of the House of Commons.
Ottawa based psychic, Blair Roberston, predicted to "The Sun" newspapers that Mr. Harper will finally have his much coveted "majority" after Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals flame-out at the polls. The Governor-General will probably be just as happy to get on with her life after Mr. Harper nominates his own candidate for the ceremonial job once Madame Jean's term expires in September.