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Tuesday, August 16, 2005
G-G3: Was I wrong about the Governor-General Designate?

My previous screeds on the G-G-D were misleading. I was upset about her appointment’s symbolism because so much was made about her race, gender and linguistic heritage. I felt it would be wonderful if she were appointed in spite of those characteristics, or if they were secondary to an unquestionably stellar CV. I’d have felt uneasy but not upset if they were the elephant in the room, that is, if everyone were too polite to mention that they were obviously the main reasons. Instead, to have the Prime Minister put them front and centre and expect us to applaud like trained seals, it seemed that we’d abandoned meritocracy as our national idea in favour of racism and sexism. We seemed no longer even pretending that we lived a country where those attributes didn’t matter; we were no longer even pretending that we were trying to engineer a world where they didn’t matter. It was as though they were themselves the symbols of our country.

Maybe that was an overreaction, maybe not. Regardless, it is no longer the big story. Mme Jean’s citizenship and political views are now front and centre, and Canadians are outraged. Pundits are wondering if maybe if it, finally, is Paul Martin’s blunder too many. I find that unlikely; Canadians’ intelligence has a vegetable-like resiliency to Liberal insults. Besides, I wonder if this new information doesn’t put her appointment in a whole new, and perhaps more favourable light.

In defence of the PM’s appointment:
I always thought of Mr. Martin as a plodder, but appointing a French citizen to be the representative of the British Queen requires a wicked sense of humour, doesn’t it? There is a touch of the absurd in it, perhaps a taste of the Pythonesque? Maybe there is something of the British tradition, or, at least a British tradition, in it after all?

In defence of Mme Jean:
As for that unfortunate movie her husband produced of her toasting to separatism, for this type of trash I have no time. Why is it that every time an attractive talented woman comes to public attention, some smutty film that a husband or boyfriend made of him leading her astray suddenly surfaces as well? Why should youthful indiscretions (she was a naive 34 when the film was made) threatening to derail her? I’d hoped we had moved beyond that as a society. I wish to remind Canadians that our neighbours to the south didn’t allow Paris Hilton’s sex tapes derail her debut on “the Simple Life” and deprive the world of her acting talents. We should follow their example and not let “la manière nègre” deprive Mme Jean, or us, of her historic Governor-Generalship.

One final G-G related note: the CBC has locked out its employees. Sadly, the labour dispute has improved our Public Broadcaster. That sounds like more sarcasm, but it isn’t. There is far less chatter and more uninterrupted classical music. The best part is that they’ve gone to the BBC World Service for newscasts. If the lockout lasts, who knows, maybe our next G-G will be British.

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