Last week was a turning point. After years of ignorance and outright mischief on part of some staff at Rideau Hall, people finally awoke and took notice. As you probably know by now, the Governor General twice referred to herself as Canada's "head of state" at a UNESCO speech in Paris.
Immediately after learning of this major faux pas, I contacted the Governor General's Secretary to express our outrage. We all know that the Governor General is not Canada's head of state but rather the representative of the head of state, Her Majesty The Queen. So, how and why in the world did this happen, I asked.
Soon after, the League was asked to comment by the media. Admittedly, I felt a bit uncomfortable publicly criticising the Governor General and her staff. After all, aren't we supposed to be on the same team? But, when things go so wrong, when the train falls off the track, we do need to act. If the Monarchist League of Canada turns a blind eye to such an obvious attack on the Crown then why are we here, right?
As the story unfolded throughout the week, most major news outlets across the country were talking about what has become known as the "Head of State Debate." Recognizing that this story was not going away (and was, quite frankly, morphing into a major controversy), the Prime Minister issued a statement to help clarify matters. Yes, The Queen is head of state. No, the GG is not.
Constitutional experts, law professors, the PMO, MPs, bloggers, editorial boards, and the Monarchist League of Canada all came to The Queen's defence. It seemed like everyone - everyone except those at Rideau Hall - agreed that Canada's one and only head of state is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.
The significance of last week, though, is not the the fact that our Governor General referred to herself as head of state. Nor is it the fact that Rideau Hall so foolishly tried to justify using the term (more on that in another post!). And, nor is it the fact that the Prime Minister issued a rare public rebuke.
Rather, the importance of last week is that years of constitutional vandalism was suddenly exposed. Last week, the general public learned what many of us reluctantly suspected was on the agenda: a carefully calculated plan to elevate the office of the Governor General, to purposely downplay the role of The Queen herself, to "Canadianize" the Crown into a monarchy without a monarch .
Finally, the story was being told. The head-of-stateism-by-stealth campaign was blown wide open for all to see. Yes, that's what is important. (Kudos to the national media for bringing this whole head of state issue to the forefront, by the way!)
I believe that years from now we will look back and realise that last week was indeed a turning point. The hidden agenda to turn the Governor General into the head of state now public and causing tremendous backlash, the steps are now being taken to reverse the trend and to restore the vice-regal office to what it truly should be: a representative of our Queen, a woman who has dutifully and selflessly served us for almost 60 years.
Serving as The Queen's representative and the honour and prestige that goes with that opportunity should be reason enough to want to be a governor general. You surely don't need to strive to be something more than that to earn Canadians' respect.
Until next time,