Roundup: Let’s not lobotomize the GG

There have been so, so many bad takes on the whole issue of Her Excellency Julie Payette’s speech to scientists last week, but there’s one published by the National Post yesterday that was so terrible, that Paul Wells’ incredulous reaction is something that matches my own. Fraser Valley University history professor Barbara Messamore writes that Julie Payette should be a scripted automaton because that’s the role that Governors General are expected to be.

No. Absolutely not.

This is the kind of thing that drives me completely insane. This constant need to keep politics as tightly scripted and lifeless as possible is part of what is killing our democracy, and it’s telling that so many people flocked to the unscripted (and unhinged) Donald Trump because of his “authenticity.” And to demand this of a vice-regal position is completely overkill. I also continue to boggle at the number of pundits who think that Payette somehow was commenting on live issues under debate. I’ve asked, and yet no one can point to where any of our mainstream parties are denying climate change, or who support creationism in our school curricula. They don’t exist in Canada, which is why the insistence that these are somehow issues under debate is baffling.

But beyond that, I find it unfathomable that we would want brilliant and accomplished individuals for the role, given the immense power at their disposal (should they choose to set off a constitutional crisis to exercise most of it), or the tough decisions that may be asked of them in any number of post-election scenarios, while we simultaneously demand that they be utterly vacuous so as not to cause problems. But while Payette may have rankled the delicate sensibilities of some, she also did not cross a partisan line which is what matters in this situation. Why we should force her to lobotomise herself for the sake of smiling and waving and mouthing beige platitudes makes no sense. If that’s what we want, then why not simply put some bilingual starlet in the role so that she can look good in photos and can smile and wave to her heart’s content? Why bother looking for someone accomplished if we’re not going to let them speak or exercise the judgment that we ask of them when it counts? If we let Payette continue to go unscripted, could she make a mistake? Maybe. She’s human. But it keeps her authentic and the reflection of her true self and intellect, and that to me is far more important than the fact that she may bruise a few feelings from time to time. We’re grown-ups. We should be able to handle the odd bump, and it’s far better than the alternative.

Meanwhile, Michael Coren defends Her Excellency’s “mocking” of religion from his own religious perspective, and he calls out the Conservatives’ attempts to make political hay out of this, which he deems akin to “prayer abuse” – something refreshing amidst days of fainting couches and clutched pearls.


Good reads:

  • In Paradise Papers fallout, Stephen Bronfman and Jean Chrétien deny links to those trusts, while CRA continues to rebuff attempts to calculate the tax gap.
  • Here’s a look at the speeches in the Commons to mark the 150th anniversary of the Parliament of Canada.
  • The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians’ membership list has finally been announced.
  • As Bill C-58 on Access to Information reform went to clause-by-clause consideration, Kady O’Malley explains what that means.
  • At committee, a couple of amendments to C-58 were passed, but most NDP suggestions were rejected; the Conservatives haven’t put any forward.
  • Maclean’s has the tale of their attempts to ATIP what happened at CBSA when they “lost” a war criminal that the magazine found.
  • In TPP-11 negotiations, Canada is not only pushing for better IP provisions, but also our usual protections for cultural industries and Supply Management.
  • Children caught as false positives by the No-Fly List want redress, while Ralph Goodale says that Bill C-59 is the first step in the framework for that to happen.
  • Goodale has also issued a new directive to CBSA that aims to keep children out of immigration detention as much as possible.
  • Some current and former NDP MPs repaying the Commons for satellite offices and improper mailings are looking for the party to reimburse them for “their” scheme.
  • Here’s a look at the Senate’s plans when it comes to the proposed internal audit committee. (Look for my column on this later today).
  • Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he won’t follow the Ontario model for cannabis distribution.

Odds and ends:

Liberal MP Denis Lemieux suddenly resigned his seat yesterday, citing family reasons.