Intercultural studies 

ANG 160 Fall 2005


Eastern townships



Quebec regions


Important people/Theories


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The post of Governor General in brief

   (by Christian)

From 1867 to 1952, every Governor General was a subject of the United Kingdom and a member of the aristocracy. The last British Governor General was Harold Alexander, 1st Viscount Alexander of Tunis, who served from 1946 to 1952. Since Vincent Massey's appointment in 1952, the position has been held only by Canadians. Moreover, by tradition, the post has been held alternately by English-Canadians and French-Canadians. Beginning in 1967, the Prime Minister has forwarded the Queen a single name when proposing a vice-regal appointment; previously a list of several names had been given to the Queen.

Although non-partisan while in office, Governors General are often former politicians. Since 1952, individuals who previously served as diplomats, as cabinet members, or as Speakers of the House of Commons have been appointed to the post. The former Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, was previously an author and television anchor; she is the first Governor General in Canadian history without either a political or military background. She is also the first Asian-Canadian and the second woman to serve in the position. The first female Governor General of Canada was Jeanne Sauvé, who served from 1984 to 1990. The third woman to hold this position is Michaëlle Jean, who took office on September 27, 2005. Jean is also the first Black Canadian Governor General.



Arms of Governor General               The present flag of the Governor General was adopted in 1981. It features a crowned lion holding a red maple leaf.


Although the Governor General's powers are in theory extensive, they are in practice very limited. The Governor General is a symbolic and nominal chief executive, acting within the constraints of constitutional convention and precedent. Should the Governor General of Canada attempt to exercise any powers without reference to constitutional convention and solely at his or her own personal discretion, the action would likely result in a constitutional crisis and in public outrage. Almost always, the Governor General exercises the Royal Prerogative on the advice of the Prime Minister and other ministers. The Prime Minister and ministers are, in turn, accountable to the democratically elected House of Commons, and through it, to the people.



Since 1988

Since the adoption of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in 1988, it is obvious that Governors General have been carefully chosen as a means of advertising Canada’s multicultural policy and promote immigration.

Starting in 1990 with the nomination of Ray Hnatyshyn, a Ukrainian Canadian, the post has since been held, two times out of three, by people whose origins were other than British or Canadian.

Ray Hnatyshyn

  The Right Honourable Ramon John "Ray" Hnatyshyn was Canada's twenty-fourth governor general, serving from 1990 to 1995.

Ray Hnatyshyn, Ukrainian Canadian, was born the son of Canadian senator John Hnatyshyn in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He attended the University of Saskatchewan and practised law in that province until being elected to the House of Commons. He served as Conservative Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-area ridings from 1974 to 1988.




The Right Honourable Adrienne Louise Clarkson was the Governor General of Canada from October 7, 1999 to September 27, 2005. She was the first Chinese Canadian and second woman to hold this position, the first being Jeanne Sauvé.


Michaëlle Jean

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean (born September 6, 1957 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti) is the current Governor General of Canada. Jean was approved by Queen Elizabeth II, on the recommendation of Prime Minister Paul Martin, to succeed Adrienne Clarkson and become the 27th governor general of Canada.

An image and nothing more? Or is the Government of Canada really ready to “ensure that Canadians of all origins have an equal opportunity to obtain employment and advancement in [federal] institutions”? And if so, will we live to see a person from a visible miority as Prime minister?