Has anyone told the Canadian secretary to the Queen about William Shatner yet?

May 3rd, 2010 | By | Category: In Brief

WSCanada, the late Robertson Davies used to say, is the kind of country you worry about. And even though the present Canadian confederation has now been in business for 143 years (or at least will be this coming July 1), it is still all too easy to imagine that soon enough it will disappear off the face of the earth – as anything more than a geographical expression. (Or, if you like, it will disappear into the hungry eagle of the  USA, where many still believe it has belonged all along.)

Yet even in the midst of the current northern North American malaise, riddled with dynamic  dysfunctionality in Ottawa, several rapidly cumulating democratic deficits, etc, etc, etc, there remain some reasons to (as Jesse Jackson used to say) keep hope alive.

From the standpoint of the present confederation’s long-term future, eg, the present office of governor general is a strategic institution, the democratic reform of which could serve some crucial nation building purposes, that must ultimately be served (or else). We are still not having the kind of broad public debate about the future of this office that we need to have. But the country’s strange survival instincts are nonetheless quietly coming into play in various more subtle (and even amusing) ways.

On the more or less strictly amusing side, even the Los Angeles Times has noted the current rapidly growing Facebook campaign to have Montreal-born William Shatner (aka Captain Kirk on the Starship Enterprise, and attorney Denny Crane on “Boston Legal,” etc, etc) succeed the excellent Michaelle Jean as Governor General of Canada.

On a slightly more serious note, it has now become clear as well that someone called the “Canadian secretary to the Queen”Â  has “consulted [official opposition leader Michael] Ignatieff on a successor [to Governor General Jean] at Stephen Harper’s request.”

There is apparently a precedent for such a consultation during the reign of the last Canadian prime minister from Alberta in the first half of the 1930s (aka “Lord Stampede of Calgary”). But the 2010 update still suggests [minority] Prime Minister Harper has been paying at least some attention to the quietly gathering hue and cry that, in the present day and age, it is unseemly (as well as appallingly undemocratic, etc) for Canada’s de facto head of state to be appointed by the Canadian prime minister acting all by himself alone. (There are reports that New Democrat leader Jack Layton has also been consulted.)

All this has prompted our own Dr. Randall White to quickly update his (somewhat) extended cyberspace essay of some three weeks ago, on how, in the deepest and truest real world of the Canadian future, “Electing governor general is only option that finally makes sense.” CLICK HERE if you want to quickly scan the update (in the six paragraphs immediately up front, Dr. White tells us), or if you somehow missed the original report and want to catch up now. Or of course, you can also still just consult the Canadian Republic category to the right of this page, and click on the current headline there.

(Oh, and btw, Mr. Ignatieff has in some quarters been criticized for going public with his views on the appointment of a governor general in 2010. In an interview just after lunch today, Dr. White said that he thinks Norman Spector is right about this one, in his Globe and Mail blog post “On the GG, Ignatieff’s spot-on.” Dr. White approves  too of Mr. Ignatieff’s own comments on the matter: “I don’t think there are complicated political or constitutional considerations here … Going public with this is just a way of saying Canadians should be consulted and should have a public conversation on what kind of governor-general we want next. Nor are any lines being drawn in the sand … To the degree that the governor-general is a referee and an umpire in our constitutional issues, we accept a ruling of the governor-general as final in all cases … It goes without staying that if the Prime Minister makes another choice, we’ll accept the decision and we’ll support whatever choice they make.”)

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