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Governor General


Since Canada is a consitutional monarchy, the Sovereign (King or Queen) is our Head of State. But since the Sovereign is also the Head of State of 15 other countries*, it is impossible for him or her to be a part of everyday government functions. The Governor General, then, is the Sovereign's representative in Canada but is the ultimate authority in government for the nation. Ever since the Letters Patent of 1947, the Governor General has assumed all of the powers of the Sovereign. Even the presence of the Sovereign in the country does not superceed the authority of the Governor General and therefore the Governor General is 1st on the Canadian Order of Precedence.

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Roles and Responsibilities

The Governor General is selected by the Prime Minister and formally appointed by the Sovereign to act as her representative in Canada. The appointment is usually for five years but has sometimes been extended to seven.

Opening Parliament Bills passed in the House of Commons and Senate do not become law until the Governor General has given them royal assent. The Governor General executes all orders-in-council and other state documents, appoints all superior court judges (on the advice of Cabinet) and summons, prorogues, and dissolves Parliament (on the advice of the prime minister). Also, the Governor General invites the leader of the political party with the most support in the House of Commons to form a government. The Governor General also delivers the Speech from the Throne at the beginning of each parliamentary session.

The Governor General has two official residences. Rideau Hall (also known as the Government House) at 1 Sussex Drive in Ottawa across the road from 24 Sussex - the official residence of the prime minister. The other is La Citadelle on the grounds of the Canadian Forces Base in Quebec City. Both are pictured below.

* The Sovereign of Canada is also the Head of State of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom.


Rideau Hall, OttawaLa Citadelle, Quebec City
Rideau HallLa Citadelle

His Excellency The Right Honourable David Johnston

David Johnston began his professional career as an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen's University in 1966, moving to the Law Faculty at the University of Toronto in 1968. He became Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario in 1974. In 1979 he was named Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, and in July 1994, he returned to the McGill Faculty of Law as a full-time professor. In June 1999, he became the fifth President of the University of Waterloo.

His Excellency The Right Honourable David Johnston
His Excellency The Right Honourable
David Johnston
Professor Johnston has served on many provincial and federal task forces and committees, and currently serves on the boards of a number of companies, including Arise, CGI, Fairfax, and Masco. He was President of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and of the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec. He was the founding Chair of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, chaired the federal government's Information Highway Advisory Council and served as the first non-American Chair of the Board of Overseers at Harvard University. He is the author or co-author of two dozen books, holds honorary doctorates from over a dozen universities, and has been awarded the Order of Canada (Companion).

Mr. Johnston holds an LL.B. from Queen's University, Canada (1966), an LL.B. from Cambridge, United Kingdom (1965), and an A.B. from Harvard (1963). While at Harvard he was twice elected to the All-American Hockey Team and is a member of Harvard's Athletic Hall of Fame. His academic specializations include securities regulation, corporation and information technology and law.

Mr. Johnston was born in Sudbury, Ontario, and is married to Dr. Sharon Johnston. They have five adult daughters and seven grandchildren.

The Governor General's Personal Flag
Flag of the Governor General

SOURCE: Government of Canada.
See also
Former Governors General of Canada
Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General of Canada
Official Residences

External Links
Governor General of Canada's Official Website


Copyright Craig I.W. Marlatt