Governor-General Julie Payette should go back and read her job description again.

Jan 19, 2020 | NewsPoliticsGovernor-General Julie Payette should go back and read her job description again.

It’s no secret that one of Justin Trudeau’s aims since he was elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019 was to go after a seat on the UN Security Council. As it stands, Norway and Ireland seem to have the race for the available seat locked up, but that has not stopped this government spending ridiculous amounts of money to get the votes to gain the Security council seat.

Now, in 2020, that campaign has been ramped up and if Trudeau and the Liberals aren’t spending an estimated $120,000 to New York-based organization Security Council Report to educate Canadian personnel” our Governor-General Julie Payette seems to have taken on the role of cheerleader to gain that seat.

Governor-General Julie Payette is now “lobbying foreign diplomats to support Canada’s UN Security Council bid”, something that flies in the face of the duties and position of the Governor-General.

National Post John Ivison revealed this tidbit in a recent column:

“When new ambassadors arrive in Ottawa they are obliged to troop along to Rideau Hall, where they are officially welcomed by the Governor General, as the Queen’s representative in Canada.

The presentation of credentials ceremony is normally a formality carried out by the dignified branch of government – perfunctory and uneventful, if done right.

Yet heads of mission who have handed over their letters of credence to Julie Payette in recent times say they were lobbied privately by the Governor General to support Canada’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. A vote will be held in June and Canada is running against Norway and Ireland for the two-year mandate to represent “Western Europe and Others”. Government sources suggest it will be a close call.

One foreign diplomat who told me about the exchange said it was considered “unusual” – and, according to a number of accounts, it is. By convention, the governor general does not involve him or herself with government policy. As the Queen’s representative in Canada, the governor general is deemed to be non-partisan and above the fray of party politics. Payette’s predecessors were all firm non-interventionists when it came to politics.

A statement from Payette’s office does not refute she pushed Canada’s bid on foreign diplomats.

“The Governor General supports Canada’s foreign policy in many ways, in particular by receiving ambassadors, hosting state visits and representing the country on the international stage. The meetings and exchanges that take place in these circumstances are conducted in close collaboration with the government,” it read.

That suggests Payette was invited to raise the issue by the Prime Minister’s Office. A spokesman for the prime minister said he had no direct knowledge but defended the concept of governors general advocating government policy.”

Ms. Payette, along with Justin Trudeau should go back and re-read the handbook of what a Governor-General – the Queen’s Representative in Canada does and does not do. What Payette is doing now flies in the face of decorum and tradition but, it’s not the first time for her.

In fact, it started in 2017 when Payette was appointed to the position and right out of the gate, she “sidestepped” a question regarding her support of the monarchy.

When asked whether she believes it remains relevant for the country to be headed by a monarch, this was Payette’s response:

“I don’t think it is appropriate for me to respond to this question at this moment,” she responded in French. “[In] this position, which incredible predecessors have occupied, and I will do my best to advance subjects and directions and to also listen, because I believe it is very important to listen to what people have to say in our communities and to do the best I can with the parameters that are offered to us now.”

It didn’t take long for Ms. Payette’s biases to come out when, in a 2017 speech, Payette “stressed the need for greater public awareness of scientific knowledge and noted, with some incredulity, that certain unscientific beliefs persist, including astrology and skepticism about climate change. She also made a reference to religious belief. “

“We are still debating and still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process let alone, oh my goodness, a random process.”

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer criticized Justin Trudeau as he offered support for Payette’s remarks, when he said this:

We are a government grounded in science. Canadians are people who understand the value of science and knowledge as a foundation for the future of our country. 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. And I applaud the firmness with which she stands in support of science and the truth.”

Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson made some good points in an op-ed piece, calling into question Payette’s neutrality, especially in matters of state, noting this:

“Julie Payette’s transgression is more serious than some suppose. In a speech last week, she celebrated secularism and science over faith and superstition in tones so derisive that the Conservative Leader protested and the Prime Minister rose to her defence, which only made things worse.

In presenting herself as an enlightened governor-general, did Ms. Payette inadvertently cast herself as a Liberal governor-general? If the next election produces an unstable House, can we count on her to rule impartially on who should be asked to form a government, or whether and when to accept a recommendation to prorogue or dissolve Parliament?

The governor-general exists to resolve such impasses. With her remarks on science and superstition, Ms. Payette has made it harder to credibly fill that role.”

Since the Liberals have a minority government now, it’s a good question to ponder when it comes to a question of Ms. Payette’s neutrality if a vote of non-confidence leads to the dissolution of Parliament.

Just like Justin Trudeau is now a part-time Prime Minister, it seems that our Governor-General has been a part time Governor-General before she was called out by various members of the press as to her approach to the job.

“In 2018, “she has dramatically reduced events attended, as well as trips abroad and speaking events. The Star reported she rarely attends events on weekends (she prefers to hang out in Montreal), has never travelled to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Yukon. And only made it to Newfoundland in the last few weeks. She’s attended more than one hundred less events than her predecessor David Johnston.

A large number of organizations have been snubbed or rebuked. They include the Canadian Cancer Society, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Awards ceremony, the Governor General’s Medals in Architecture, Scouts Canada and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Payette won’t even attend the 2018 Governor General’s History ceremony. That’s like not attending your own party.

Then there was the story that Payette didn’t want to sign the bill legalizing marijuana because she was in a snit to have to change her schedule on short notice. Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick had to step in and arm-wrestle her to do it.”

Even Maclean’s magazine called Payette out on her approach to the job.

“The Governor General faced a spate of bad press in 2018. The National Post quoted numerous anonymous sources who complained about Payette’s perceived inability to adapt to her new role after her appointment on Oct. 2, 2017. They pointed to the office’s reduced workload and Payette’s initial challenges with Rideau Hall protocol. Last January, the Post published another story in which Payette received mixed reviews—she’d ratcheted up engagements and was more active on social media, part of a concerted PR effort, but also reportedly “micromanaged” the Order of Canada selection process. More recently, CBC News reported Payette had no plans to move into the recently renovated Rideau Hall—instead opting to live in a smaller, more private residence nearby. A Governor General’s typical term runs five years, though they can be extended.”

The bad press must have spurred Payette into action as “More recently, Payette has adopted a more conventional approach to her role. She is heading to Poland later this month for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, having recently been in Jerusalem at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum.”  

While it’s a good thing that Ms. Payette is stepping up to the plate with more traditional duties, she is still sticking her nose into business that is not part of her job description and it seems, done with the indirect approval of the PMO.

The role of Governor-General is largely a ceremonial one, but there are duties that form the cornerstone of how Canada is governed, which include representing the crown and ensuring there is always a prime minister, acting on advice of prime minister and cabinet ministers to give royal assent to bills passed in the Senate and House of Commons, signing state documents, reading the throne speech and presiding over swearing-in of the prime minister, chief justice and cabinet ministers.

When Justin Trudeau appointed Julie Payette, he abandoned the option of being advised by a panel of vice-regal experts who had been convened to vet previous governors and lieutenant generals, in order to fast-track a female, multi-lingual, francophone former astronaut. As with most of his appointments, she appeared to have been sent by central casting to fill the position. She was “too spectacular to say no to,” in the words of one person involved in the process (such as it was).”

This isn’t about whether the need for a Governor-General in Canada is or is not warranted. It’s about a Governor-General who is flaunting the rules to stay neutral in political affairs with this latest gaffe, trying to lobby ambassadors to support Trudeau’s bid for a UN Security Council seat.

It’s about a Prime Minister who is trying to re-shape Canada into the post national state he talked about after he was elected.

It’s about flaunting the rules and traditions as to the selection of the Governor-General – the Queen’s representative in Canada who, like the Queen, is supposed to remain neutral in political affairs.

Regardless of the fact that Ms. Payette may be taking on more traditional duties now after a very rocky start, a staffer noted this recently:

“She just doesn’t understand the role,” just like our Prime Minister who, in 2020 is still “not ready for the job.”

Arwen~ Credit and thanks to Elizabeth Marshall for posting the role and responsbililty of the Governor General of Canada.

Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General of Canada[1]

Effective October 1, 1947

“GEORGE R.”

CANADA

George the Sixth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith.

[SEAL]

To All To Whom these Presents shall come,

GREETING:

Whereas by certain Letters Patent under the Great Seal bearing date at Westminster the Twenty-third day of March, 1931, His late Majesty King George the Fifth did constitute, order, and declare that there should be a Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada, and that the person filling the office of Governor General and Commander-in-Chief should be from time to time appointed by Commission under the Royal Sign Manual and Signet:And whereas at St. James’ on the Twenty-third day of March, 1931, His late Majesty King George the Fifth did cause certain Instructions under the Royal Sign Manual and Signet to be given to the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief:And whereas it is Our Will and pleasure to revoke the Letters Patent and Instructions and to substitute other provisions in place thereof:Now therefore We do by these presents revoke and determine the said Letters Patent, and everything therein contained, and all amendments thereto, and the said Instructions, but without prejudice to anything lawfully done thereunder:And We do declare Our Will and pleasure as follows:I. We do hereby constitute, order, and declare that there shall be a Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada, and appointments to the Office of Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada shall be made by Commission under Our Great Seal of Canada.II. And We do hereby authorize and empower Our Governor General, with the advice of Our Privy Council for Canada or of any members thereof or individually, as the case requires, to exercise all powers and authorities lawfully belonging to Us in respect of Canada, and for greater certainty but not so as to restrict the generality of the foregoing to do and execute, in the manner aforesaid, all things that may belong to his office and to the trust We have reposed in him according to the several powers and authorities granted or appointed him by virtue of the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1940 and the powers and authorities hereinafter conferred in these Letters Patent and in such Commission as may be issued to him under Our Great Seal of Canada and under such laws as are or may hereinafter be in force in Canada.III. And We do hereby authorize and empower Our Governor General to keep and use Our Great Seal of Canada for sealing all things whatsoever that may be passed under Our Great Seal of Canada.IV. And We do further authorize and empower Our Governor General to constitute and appoint, in Our name and on Our behalf, all such Judges, Commissioners, Justices of the Peace, and other necessary Officers (including diplomatic and consular officers) and Ministers of Canada, as may be lawfully constituted or appointed by Us.V. And We do further authorize and empower Our Governor General, so far as We lawfully may, upon sufficient cause to him appearing, to remove from his office, or to suspend from the exercise of the same, any person exercising any office within Canada, under or by virtue of any Commission or Warrant granted, or which may be granted, by Us in Our name or under Our authority.VI. And We do further authorize and empower Our Governor General to exercise all powers lawfully belonging to Us in respect of summoning, proroguing or dissolving the Parliament of Canada.VII. And Whereas by the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1940, it is amongst other things enacted that it shall be lawful for Us, if We think fit, to authorize Our Governor General to appoint any person or persons, jointly or severally, to be his Deputy or Deputies within any part or parts of Canada, and in that capacity to exercise, during the pleasure of Our Governor General, such of the powers, authorities, and functions of Our Governor General as he may deem it necessary or expedient to assign to such Deputy or Deputies, subject to any limitations or directions from time to time expressed or given by Us; Now We do hereby authorize and empower Our Governor General, subject to such limitations or directions, to appoint any person or persons, jointly or severally, to be his Deputy or Deputies within any part or parts of Canada, and in that capacity to exercise, during the pleasure of Our Governor General, such of the powers, authorities, and functions of Our Governor General as he may deem it necessary or expedient to assign to him or them: Provided always, that the appointment of such a Deputy or Deputies shall not affect the exercise of any such power, authority or function by Our Governor General.VIII. And We do hereby declare Our pleasure to be that, in the event of the death, incapacity, removal, or absence of Our Governor General out of Canada, all and every the powers and authorities herein granted to him shall, until Our further pleasure is signified therein, be vested in Our Chief Justice for the time being of Canada, (hereinafter called Our Chief Justice) or, in the case of the death, incapacity, removal, or absence of Our Chief Justice, then in the Senior Judge for the time being of the Supreme Court of Canada, then residing in Canada and not being under incapacity; such Chief Justice or Senior Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, while the said powers and authorities are vested in him, to be known as Our Administrator.Provided always, that the said Senior Judge shall act in the administration of the Government only if and when Our Chief Justice shall not be present within Canada and capable of administering the Government.Provided further that no such powers or authorities shall vest in such Chief Justice, or other judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, until he shall have taken the Oaths appointed to be taken by Our Governor General.Provided further that whenever and so often as Our Governor General shall be temporarily absent from Canada, with Our permission, for a period not exceeding one month, then and in every such case Our Governor General may continue to exercise all and every the powers vested in him as fully as if he were residing within Canada, including the power to appoint a Deputy or Deputies as provided in the Seventh Clause of these Our Letters Patent.IX. And We do hereby require and command all Our Officers and Ministers, Civil and Military, and all the other inhabitants of Canada, to be obedient, aiding, and assisting unto Our Governor General, or, in the event of his death, incapacity, or absence, to such person as may, from time to time, under the provisions of these Our Letters Patent administer the Government of Canada.X. And We hereby declare Our Pleasure to be that Our Governor General for the time being shall, with all due solemnity, cause Our Commission under Our Great Seal of Canada, appointing Our Governor General for the time being, to be read and published in the presence of Our Chief Justice, or other Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, and of members of Our Privy Council for Canada, and that Our Governor General shall take the Oath of Allegiance in the form following:-“I, …………….. do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King George the Sixth, His Heirs and successors, according to law. So Help me God”; and likewise he shall take the usual Oath for the due execution of the Office of Our Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada, and for the due impartial administration of justice; which Oaths Our Chief Justice, or, in his absence, or in the event of his being otherwise incapacitated, any Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada shall, and he is hereby required to, tender and administer unto him.XI. And We do authorize and require Our Governor General from time to time, by himself or any other person to be authorized by him in that behalf, to administer to all and to every person or persons, as he shall think fit, who shall hold any office or place of trust or profit in Canada, that said Oath of Allegiance, together with such other Oath or Oaths as may be from time to time be prescribed by any Laws or Statutes in that behalf made and provided.XII. And do further authorize and empower Our Governor General, as he shall see occasion, in Our name and on Our behalf, when any crime or offence against the laws of Canada has been committed for which the offender may be tried thereunder, to grant a pardon to any accomplice, in such crime or offence, who shall give such information as shall lead to the conviction of the principal offender, or of any one of such offenders if more than one; and further to grant to any offender convicted of any such crime or offence in any Court, or before any Judge, Justice, or Magistrate, administering the laws of Canada, a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions, or any respite of the execution of the sentence of any such offender, for such a period as to Our Governor General may seem fit, and to remit any fines, penalties, or forfeitures, which may become due and payable to Us. And We do hereby direct and enjoin that Our Governor General shall not pardon or reprieve any such offender without first receiving in capital cases the advice of Our Privy Council for Canada and. in other cases, the advice of one, at least, of his Ministers.XIII. And We do further authorize and empower Our Governor General to issue Exequaturs, in Our name and on Our behalf, to Consular Officers of foreign countries to whom Commissions of Appointment have been issued by the Heads of States of such countries.XIV. And whereas great prejudice may happen to Our service and to the security of Canada by the absence of Our Governor General, he shall not quit Canada without having first obtained leave from Us for so doing through the Prime Minister of Canada.XV. And We do hereby reserve to Ourselves, Our heirs and successors, full power and authority from time to time to revoke, alter, or amend these Our Letters Patent as to Us or them shall seem fit.XVI. And We do further direct and enjoin that these Our Letters Patent shall be read and proclaimed at such place or places within Canada as Our Governor General shall think fit.XVII. And We do further declare that these Our Letters Patent shall take effect on the first day of October, 1947.In witness whereof We have caused these Our Letters to made Patent, and for the greater testimony and validity thereof, We have caused Our Great Seal of Canada to be affixed to these presents, which We have signed with Our Royal Hand.Given the eighth day of September in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Forty-Seven and in the Eleventh Year of Our Reign.

BY HIS MAJESTY’S COMMAND,

W. L. MACKENZIE KING,
Prime Minister of Canada

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