An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
OUR GOVERNORS-GENERAL are getting to be a bit of a handful. Either they’re travelling the world, spending too much money, or they aren’t doing much of anything.
Are they worth the bother?
As I watched current Gov-Gen Julie Payette at the national Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa last weekend, I thought about the sense of dignity the position lends to such occasions.
Payette has been in her job a little over a year and has been under fire for not attending a number of major events connected with her office. The former astronaut has kept a light schedule.
One of her predecessors, Adrienne Clarkson, also made the news recently, for spending a hundred thousand dollars a year of the public’s money even though it’s been 13 years since she held the office.
This is legally acceptable because ex-governors general are given hefty allowances to carry on with public duties. Why, is a good question, but that’s the way it is.
Clarkson defends her hefty bills, saying she accepts invitations to a lot of events and makes a lot of speeches.
How admirable. As long as we continue to recognize the British monarchy in this country, we should keep our governors-general and our lieutenant-governors. They’re the Queen’s representatives and they do come in handy in times of constitutional crises, such as when somebody has to decide which political party forms a government.
Beyond that, they cut a lot of ribbons, make a lot of speeches and attend a lot of dinners, except Payette apparently doesn’t even do much of that, though she deserves credit for attending a Remembrance ceremony in Belgium one day and the Ottawa ceremony the next. It’s nice to have someone to represent the Queen at important occasions but not essential.
So it would be preferable that governors-general A) actually get out there and do their job, and B) not break the bank doing it, including after they’ve moved on.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.