What is the Role of the Governor General of Canada

The Governor General (or the Viceroy) of Canada is the representative of the monarch in Canada. As the Queen of England - the head of state - lives outside the country, the Governor General fulfills the sovereign's constitutional and ceremonial duties on her behalf. Although these duties are mostly symbolic, "it is no easy thing to be a Governor General of Canada", as the past Governor General the Marquess of Lorne once said about the job. And he added that one must posses saint’s patience, cherub’s smile, the back of a camel, and the generosity of an Indian prince.

The current position has been established in 1867 with the British North American Act and the Canadian Confederation. Until the Statute of Westminster was passed in 1931, the post represented the British Crown. Since the passage of the act, the Governor General represents directly the Canadian sovereign. The Governor is appointed formally by the monarch on the advice of the Canada's Prime Minister. The term of office of the Governor General is not fixed. It usually spreads over a 5-year period but sometimes, his term is extended up to seven years. A rotation of anglophone and francophone Governors General is a strong tradition in the country. Once in office, the sovereign’s representative contacts directly with the Queen.

In case that the Governor General passes away, resigns or is absent for longer than a month, all his or her duties are performed by the Chief Justice of Canada or the senior Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court. The list of these obligations includes constitutional duties and ceremonial ones:

* summoning Parliament and reading the Speech from the Throne; closing and dissolving Parliament (on the advice of the Prime Minister);
* granting Royal Assent to bills passed in the Parliament, withholding Royal Assent or saving the bill for the Queen’s signification;
* appointing the Chief Justice of Canada on the advice of government;
* appointing the Lieutenant Governors of the Canada’s provinces on the advice of the Premiers of the provinces;
* giving a mandate to the leader of the party with the vastest support in the House of Commons to form a government;
* appointing or dismissing a Prime Minister or dissolving the Parliament under special circumstances or in case of emergency;
* receiving and sending foreign countries’ ambassadors;
* giving the Governor General’s Awards in literature (since 1937), in Commemoration of the
Person Case (since 1979), in Performing Arts for Lifetime Artistic Achievement (since 1992), in Visual and Media Arts, etc.; and Governor General’s Medals in Architecture (since 1950).

The Viceroy also performs the role of the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Rideau Hall in Ottawa is the official residence of the Governor General of Canada, but the Viceroy also resides for a couple of months each year at the Citadel in the city of Quebec. The Governor General and his or her spouse are entitled to be called His and Her Excellency as the Governor General is granted the additional “The Right Honorable”.

The current Governor General is His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston. To read more please visit the Governor General's web site: http://www.gg.ca/index.aspx