By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - 266 Comments
Just before Christmas, Governor General David Johnston made an apparently caveat-free statement on the possibility of coalition government in a parliamentary system.
Johnston said Canada — like many democratic regimes — has had experiences with coalition-type governments in the past. “I think that most jurisdictions that have a system of first-past-the-post or proportional representation will from time to have time have coalitions or amalgamation of different parties and that’s the way democracy sorts itself out,” he said.
The Prime Minister has quibbled with the concept of coalition government on three counts. And as such there are three questions Mr. Johnston should be asked at the next opportunity. Continue…
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 8:40 AM - 0 Comments
Maybe it’s the red hair, but actress Emma Stone, who got rave reviews for her performance in this year’s edgy teen comedy Easy A, has been called the new Lindsay Lohan—minus the antics. Stone, who also appeared in Zombieland and Superbad, recently landed the female lead in an upcoming Spider-Man prequel: she’ll play Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s love interest. Unlike her best-known characters, all redheads, Stacy’s a blond—coincidentally, Stone’s natural shade (turns out that her famously red hair is a dye job).
THE DOUBLE DOWN
Amid both celebration and horror, KFC launched its Double Down—bacon, melted cheese and Colonel’s Sauce, sandwiched between pieces of chicken—across the U.S. and Canada. Named after a blackjack move, this bunless wonder represents something of a gamble for even the most devoted fast-food fan. Even so, the phrase “heart attack on a bun” suddenly seemed outdated thanks to the Double Down’s limited, four-week Canadian run.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 9:40 AM - 1 Comment
British Prime Minister David Cameron called the engagement between William and Kate “a great day for the country.”
It was surely one of the best-kept secrets in the modern history of British royalty. Prince William proposed to his long-time girlfriend while on vacation in Kenya last month, but the news only came to light this week in an official announcement by his father, Prince Charles. The wedding between Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne, and his fiancée, Kate Middleton, will take place in the spring or summer of 2011.
Royal weddings are significant signposts in history. And this one is no exception. British Prime Minister David Cameron called the engagement between William and Kate “a great day for the country.” It should be considered a great and important day for Canada as well.
Queen Elizabeth II has been Canada’s head of state since 1952. Governor General David Johnston, recall, is merely her representative in this country. While such an arrangement strikes some as antiquated or unnecessary, it has proven to be a great benefit to this country. Her Majesty’s presence, both substantive and symbolic, provides political stability and reliability, and is an important reminder of our antecedents. Besides, popular approval of this system is always in ample supply, as witnessed by the outpouring of affection during the Queen’s well-received tour of Canada earlier this year.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
MP dilemma: Rick Mercer or Glee?, Encyclopedic knowledge
MP dilemma: Rick Mercer or Glee?
Heritage minister and Canadian cinema fan James Moore held his fourth movie night for MPs, this time showcasing Incendies by Quebec director Denis Villeneuve. Moore’s fellow MPs are very thankful that he has exposed them to some incredible Canadian films they might otherwise not have seen. Plus, they get to meet stars and directors: Villeneuve himself was on hand for this screening, as was actress Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin. Some MPs get their CanCon via Air Canada, such as NDP Megan Leslie, who appreciates being able to watch homegrown movies while flying. Airline travel has had another kind of impact on the viewing habits of Steven Fletcher, minister of state for democratic reform. He confessed to Capital Diary that while flying over the summer, he watched a lot of Glee. Back on the ground, however, there’s a problem: Glee is on TV at the same time as Rick Mercer’s show. Patriotically, Fletcher says that he opts for Mercer—so long as they are new episodes.
The Canadian Encyclopedia celebrated its 25th year at Ottawa’s Government Conference Centre. Moving online in 1999 has had some unforeseen benefits, notes editor-in-chief James Marsh. He says that while the encyclopedia tries to take the long view, certain political events, like prorogation, require immediate action. “When I went and read our own article on prorogation I thought, ‘I still don’t understand this.’ ” Online, the solution was easy: “We expanded that entry.” Marsh tries to plan ahead, and is currently ensuring the site has lots of info for the upcoming 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. All prime ministers are mentioned in the encyclopedia, as are finance ministers and politicians of lasting influence. The most looked-up article in the encyclopedia? The one on Pierre Trudeau, says Marsh. Montreal rookie MP Justin Trudeau is “in there, but it’s more for being famous than it is for anything else [at this point].” In attendance at the celebration was former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Flora MacDonald. “I think it’s so important that Canadians celebrate their history and this is one of the ways we do it.” While she was minister of communications in the ’80s, MacDonald provided funding for the encyclopedia.
Firefighters arrive at GG’s first public event
The first official public event for newly installed Governor General David Johnston was the launch of a joint initiative by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy (NRTEE) to look at the effects of global warming in Canada. Johnston, as it happens, was the founding chair of the NRTEE. The event was held at the Canadian Museum of Nature, where, just as the GG was being introduced, the fire alarm went off and a recorded voice instructed everyone to evacuate the building. At first the GG was taken to a gallery on the third floor, so he was one of the last ones out of the building. British Ambassador Anthony Cary, however, was one of the first out. Once firefighters arrived and confirmed that it had been a false alarm, the event was back on. Johnston took the podium and quipped, “I have been a university president for 26 years and this is the first time I emptied the room even before I spoke. There were many times they emptied while I was speaking.”
Baird happy for Tewksbury
Olympic gold medallist Mark Tewksbury was on the Hill for a reception for Special Olympics Canada. He is currently completing a $200,000 overhaul on his heritage home in Montreal, thanks in part to the government’s home renovation tax credit, he said. Government House leader John Baird piped up, “See, Canada’s economic action plan is working.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Cotler wants to see more of this Tory trend, The business side of prostitution
Cotler wants to see more of this Tory trend
Some Conservatives are upset over one aspect of David Johnston’s appointment as the new Governor General: Stephen Harper gets no credit for his non-partisan appointments. One cabinet minister says some in the party have pushed Harper to make partisan appointments, especially with key ambassador posts, but almost without exception, the PM refuses. His first Supreme Court judge appointee, Marshall Rothstein, was picked from a list drawn up by the previous Liberal government. When asked about the new GG, former justice minister and Liberal MP Irwin Cotler says, “I can’t think of a better choice. I would like to see more [such] appointments. If that could be the emerging trend, I would be very happy.”
The business side of prostitution
Soon after Ontario Superior Court Justice Susan Himel struck down key prostitution laws as unconstitutional, the Conservative government appealed the ruling while the Green party “welcomed” the decision. But all the national parties are divided on this issue. All have members, including cabinet ministers, who are fine with decriminalization, and members who aren’t. The Liberals have get-tough-on-johns Judy Sgro doing the talk shows, but Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay says, “I would much rather see [prostitution] regulated for the safety of the individuals involved. I don’t support the criminalization of the activities around it: I think it is an attempt to band-aid the issue. Treat it like a business so you can regulate employee rights, health and safety, zoning. Municipalities can pass laws, just like when people don’t want a bar in their area. I would take the moral judgment piece out. Police could crack down on those who abuse these women if we treated it like a business.”
By Andrew Coyne - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
COYNE: Some advice for Canada’s new Governor General, David Johnston
When is it legitimate for a prime minister to prorogue Parliament, and when is it not? At what point can we say a government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons? Suppose it has: what happens then?
These were just some of the questions at issue in the great prorogation crisis of December 2008. And at the heart, perhaps the most fundamental question of all: must a governor general always follow the advice of her prime minister?
The honest answer in every case is: don’t know. Or at best, it depends. For all its undoubted strengths, much of our Constitution remains unexplored territory, uncharted by law and untamed by precedent or jurisprudence.
For what it’s worth, my own answers to those questions would be as follows. It is ordinarily a perfectly legitimate exercise of his authority for a prime minister to prorogue, but the circumstances in which Stephen Harper sought to do so then—so soon after the House had returned, and in the shadow of an approaching confidence vote he seemed sure to lose—were far from ordinary.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
On proroguing Parliament, her critics, and why she thinks Canadians felt a connection to her
Michaëlle Jean’s term as governor general ends this week with the instalment of her successor, David Johnston. In one of her final interviews as the Queen’s representative, Jean reflects on what was at turns an inspiring, controversial and consequential five years in office and looks forward to her building the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, dedicated to continuing her outreach with young people, and her work with the United Nations as a special envoy to Haiti.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 1, 2010 at 11:59 AM - 0 Comments
The following is the prepared text of David Johnston’s speech on the occasion of his installation as the 28th Governor General of Canada.
Prime Minister, Madam Chief Justice, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen.
Service, whether it is to family, community, or country, is the highest, most noble of callings.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 1, 2010 at 11:12 AM - 0 Comments
The following is the prepared text of the Prime Minister’s remarks today on the occasion of the installation of Governor General David Johnston.
Professeur Johnston, au nom du gouvernement du Canada, et de tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes, j’ai l’honneur et le privilège de vous exprimer nos félicitations enthousiastes.
Dans quelques instants, une fois que vous aurez prêté serment solennellement, vous occuperez la fonction la plus élevée et la plus ancienne de notre pays.
Cette fonction remonte à celle qu’a occupée le gouverneur Samuel de Champlain au nom de la Couronne à Québec, il y a plus de quatre-cents ans.
Canada has always been a monarchy, and it has always had a Governor, styled Governor General since Confederation.
For Canada’s Monarch today, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Professor Johnston, you will become her 11th Governor General, just as I am her 11th Prime Minister and Madame McLachlin, is her 9th Chief Justice.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 4:40 PM - 0 Comments
Isn’t he cuddly: David Johnston accepts his new position
The announcement that David Johnston will be Canada’s next governor general was a rare occasion when substance and salesmanship meshed seamlessly for Stephen Harper, rewarding the Prime Minister with arguably his best burst of publicity since he sat down at a piano last fall to sing With a Little Help From My Friends.
Selecting the Queen’s representative in Canada is, of course, more important than picking which old Beatles hit to croon at a National Arts Centre gala. Johnston has rightly won wide praise as an irreproachable choice. Most recently as president of the University of Waterloo and, before that, McGill University’s long-time principal, he ranks among Canada’s most respected advocates for higher education.
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, July 19, 2010 at 11:05 AM - 0 Comments
COYNE: Stephen Harper has been playing up the province’s role in Canadian history
The most striking passage in David Johnston’s speech on being named Canada’s next governor general, apart from the reference to the Queen as “our head of state” (there seemed to be some doubt on his predecessor’s part), was his lengthy encomium to Samuel de Champlain, “Canada’s first governor.” In case anyone did not catch his drift, he ended by invoking the example of his predecessors, “from Samuel de Champlain to Michaëlle Jean.”
But wait a minute. Johnston is, as he says, the representative of the Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II, great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, granddaughter of George III, the first monarch to rule over what was then called British North America. Champlain served a different king, from an altogether different royal house: Louis XIII of France.
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, July 12, 2010 at 4:31 PM - 88 Comments
I like to think my credentials as an Airbus obsessive are in order, so allow me to dissociate myself from any suggestion that the appointment of David Johnston as Governor General is somehow tainted by it.
It’s true that it was Johnston, as adviser to the Prime Minister on the terms of reference for the Oliphant inquiry, who recommended against including the Airbus scandal in its mandate, a decision that looks all the more baffling in light of the judge’s findings: not only that Brian Mulroney took hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, shortly after leaving office, from the very man from whom he was accused of taking bribes while in office, but that he lied about it, up to and including his appearance before the inquiry. Regardless of whether Mulroney was personally involved, the circumstances surrounding the Airbus deal are so suspicious that, even 22 years later, they cry out for an inquiry — not in spite of the passage of time but because of it. Johnston’s reasoning, that Airbus, having once been the subject of an RCMP investigation, was “well-tilled ground,” is simply unsupported by the facts: the RCMP had only just begun their investigation when it was shut down by the leaking of the infamous “Swiss letter,” a calamity from which it never recovered.
That’s my opinion, at any rate. Lots of perfectly sensible people with no obvious axes to grind thought he was spot on. But even if you take my view of it, it’s a long way from an error of judgement to a conflict of interest. Those who insinuate there was something unseemly in Johnston’s appointment — sometimes accompanied by the disclaimer that, although they themselves do not believe any of this, others might — are obliged to offer some evidence, or even a plausible rationale, before tossing about such incendiary charges.
At the very least they should say clearly what they mean. Is it seriously alleged that Johnston and Harper cooked up a deal in advance — you keep Airbus out of the inquiry, and I’ll make you Governor General? Surely no one is that far gone. Is it, then, that a grateful Harper bestowed the appointment upon him as a sort of reward, ie that it was only the appointment, and not the advice, that was corrupt — a prospect the Star’s Jim Travers raises, but can’t be arsed to properly debunk? Or is it merely, as Rick Salutin claims, that Johnston’s role in the Oliphant inquiry was an “audition” (whoops, “what can be seen as an audition”), a “test of what the guy might do in a situation where Harper interests are at stake.” You follow the logic: because he had ruled in a way that was supposedly favourable to Harper’s interests in the matter of Mulroney’s cash, he could also be relied upon to do so, say, in a constitutional crisis, the connecting factor being — what? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 12, 2010 at 4:05 PM - 0 Comments
We know, because we’ve been told, that the next governor general is a non-partisan. But other facets of his history and personality are so far less understood.
For instance, though it was not noted in the official release announcing his appointment, in the third paragraph of the attached four-paragraph backgrounder we learn that Mr. Johnston, who was introduced to the country as a respected academic, began his post-secondary studies at Harvard. Granted, while at Harvard, he played “ice hockey,” as they call it there. But still, Harvard.
This is obviously confusing, for if we have learned anything at all over the last four and a half years it’s that the name of that American educational institution is only to be invoked or referenced in the derisive sense, for the purposes of mocking another’s character or intellect.
To wit. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Friday, July 9, 2010 at 11:29 AM - 0 Comments
By Paul Wells - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 6:32 PM - 0 Comments
How odd it was to read and hear today, from many sources, how little Stephen Harper and his usual crew had to do with the selection of David Johnston as Governor General. The prime minister is not normally a shy man nor unsure of his ability: he obviously usually believes he makes a situation better by becoming more involved in it. He doesn’t like to think too hard or gather too much data about a situation either. Facts are for criminologists, census-takers and budget officers. Stephen Harper knows what he wants and he knows how to get it.
Yet here he was, setting up a Manhattan Project of vice-regal search teams, sealed off hermetically from himself and his staff, committees and flowcharts, boxes within boxes, airlocks and latex gloves. Ray Novak was permitted to bring in a pencil or some Timbits at set intervals, but he was not to be touched or looked at when he did.
(a) Is it a very great surprise that such a process chose David Johnston?
(b) Does anyone doubt the decision to proceed in such a manner was political? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 4:01 PM - 0 Comments
Shortly after the daily changing of the guard ceremony on Parliament Hill had finished, David Lloyd Johnston walked quickly to a podium in the Senate foyer, cleared his throat, and announced himself as the next governor general of Canada.
The grand wood doors behind him were open, the Senate chamber all lit up. His family gathered over his left shoulder—three young girls in matching summer dresses, one young boy in his best shorts. All around him, grand monarchs looked on from grand portraits—Elizabeth II, Victoria, Edward VII, Georges III, IV, V and VI. He spoke first in serviceable, if inelegant, French. He wore navy blue, his striped tie bearing the crest of the University of Waterloo. He seemed happy and not obviously daunted. Continue…
By Andrew Coyne - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 1:09 PM - 0 Comments
The more I think about this David Johnston appointment, the more I’m inclined to revise my initial reaction. This isn’t just a good choice. It’s an outstanding choice: the best, on paper, since Michener. (We’ll see how he actually performs in the job.)
There are few Canadians with lives more filled with accomplishment, or whose character is more widely respected. As such, he brings not only impressive practical credentials to a job that, as we have been reminded of late, is much more than a ceremonial post. His selection also offers an important signal of what we value as a society, of the qualities we think are important, of what we aspire to: experience, scholarship, service to others, personal decency.
I was critical of Johnston’s work in framing the terms of reference for the Mulroney inquiry, but I don’t have the slightest doubt that it reflected his honest judgment of what was in the public interest. And it’s a small complaint set against his remarkable lifetime of achievement. Distinguished legal scholar, with degrees from Cambridge, Harvard and Queen’s. Principal of McGill University. President of University of Waterloo. A list of publications and public service involvements as long as your arm. Fluently bilingual. Father of five. Captain of the Harvard hockey team (!). And, the clincher, a stint as a CBC broadcaster (he hosted a political talk show, The Editors, that was seen on Newsworld): the fourth Governor General in a row, and fifth in the last six, with that distinction.
In sum, the appointment of David Johnston is of a kind that ennobles the office, rather than the reverse. Which is as it should be.
CAVEAT: On the other hand, he did spend several years living outside of the country. I take it the Conservatives no longer consider this a disqualification for high office.
By John Geddes - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 11:59 AM - 0 Comments
David Johnston, who was named as Canada’s next Governor General today, is known as a man who doesn’t rock the boat. As a stolid appointee to many worthy boards and committees (the Information Highway Advisory Council, the Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, etc.), Johnston hasn’t often given divisive advice.
So when this conciliatory man has allowed a critical tone in his public pronouncements, it’s worth listening. And here’s what he told CBC last March for a story about Canada’s “failure” on digital technology policy:
“Most people who study the digital field would say that Canada has lost some of the wind in its sails, and that’s unfortunate… Without being unduly critical of this government, there has not been a lot of attention paid to broadband, to the digital economy and digital media in the last five or six years.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister’s Office makes David Johnston’s selection official.
Michael Ignatieff states his congratulations.
The Council of Ontario Universities, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the University of Western Ontario formally issue their praise.
By John Geddes - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 9:44 AM - 0 Comments
Before we crank up the Love Story theme and lapse into discussing fun biographical details about Canada’s next Governor General, pause for a moment to consider what matters most about today’s appointment—the process behind it.
David Johnston, the veteran university boss, legal scholar, and model for the character played by Ryan O’Neal in that mushy movie [many apologies for repeating what is apparently a time-worn fallacy, and thanks to those, including Lord Kitchener's Own, below, for correcting the error] was chosen to take over from Michaelle Jean after a “robust consultation process” that’s being touted by the Prime Minister’s Office as the most rigorous ever.
Instead of the “ad hoc” survey of possible picks that prime ministers past relied on, Stephen Harper appointed an expert advisory committee, which spent a few weeks canvassing constitutional experts, retired and active political leaders, and other prominent Canadians.
The committee then presented Harper with a short list of recommendations, apparently with Johnston’s name at the top. His credentials as a former law professor seem to have figured in his selection.
This makes sense, especially in an era of minority governments. Jean, you’ll recall, was forced to deal with contentious constitutional questions when Harper asked her to prorogue Parliament under questionable circumstances. Even though she acted responsibly in seeking top-flight advice (notably from constitutional scholar Peter Hogg), the episode suggested it wouldn’t hurt for GGs to come equipped with their own credibility on such matters.
Harper also kept his political staff out of the selection process. This was explicitly to avoid any suggestion that the new Governor General was picked to provide a partisan edge.
All this is welcome change. It would be even better, though, if Harper’s office would now release the names of the members of the expert advisory committee, explain more precisely how they went about their consultations, and who was asked to weigh in.
The point of making the whole process more transparent would be to establish it more firmly as a convention, making it hard for any future prime minister to revert to the more informal ways that have been followed in the past. There’s no point in boasting about the seriousness of Johnston’s selection unless the exercise provides a clear template for filling every future vacancy at Rideau Hall.
This post was based on briefing this morning from Dimitri Soudas, the Prime Minister’s communications director. Soudas asked not to be named as the source of the information until after the official announcement was made at 10 a.m.
Now that the information can be attributed to him, here’s a direct quote of note: “The Prime Minister did not involve his political staff on this appointment,” Soudas said, adding a moment later, “The Prime Minister kept his political staff at bay on this one.”
This statement would seem to contradict a Canadian Press report that cited Conservative sources as saying that Ray Novak, Harper’s principal secretary and closest aide, was directly involved in the process, partly because of Novak’s strong personal views on the monarchy. I’ll try to get some clarification as the day progresses.
A senior official from the Prime Minister’s Office, who asked not to be named, called to explain that Ray Novak was involved in a “strictly logistical” roll in the consultation process, but had no influence “in terms of content.” That is, as I’m now given to understand it, Novak was closely involved in setting up the consultation and making sure it ran smoothly, but didn’t have a voice in the recommendations.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 10:24 PM - 0 Comments
According to a leak, the Prime Minister’s pick is University of Waterloo president and noted academic David Lloyd Johnston.
By Colin Campbell - Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 3:40 PM - 2 Comments
Why some schools don’t want a Big Five monopoly on research
The University of Waterloo has emerged as one of the leading research centres in quantum computing and digital media. Its computer science and mathematics faculty is the largest in the world. In terms of the number of grants and funding it attracts per faculty member, it is among the most research-intensive universities in the country. But Waterloo is not one of the so-called Big Five universities, who recently proposed in an interview with Maclean’s a radical rethinking of the higher education system: boosting government research funding and resources to the biggest universities—i.e., them—while having other schools shift focus toward undergraduate education.
The proposal of the Big Five—British Columbia, Alberta, Toronto, McGill and Montreal—understandably doesn’t sit well with Waterloo’s president, David Johnston. “How sad it would be to say, ‘We don’t see Waterloo being of high priority for funding because you don’t happen to be in the Top Five universities,’ ” he says. “Simply because you’re big doesn’t mean you’re great.” Continue…
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 7:43 AM - 0 Comments
Funny you should mention the whole as-yet-nonexistent public inquiry into the Mulroney/Schreiber affair, Colleague…