|- | The Governor General of Canada (French [masculine]: Gouverneur général du Canada, or [feminine]: Gouverneure générale du Canada) is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. As the sovereign is shared equally with 15 other independent countries in a form of personal union, as well as with the ten other jurisdictions of Canada, and resides predominantly in her oldest realm, the United Kingdom, she, on the advice of her Canadian prime minister only, appoints the governor general to carry out most of her constitutional and ceremonial duties for an unfixed period of time—known as serving At Her Majesty's pleasure—though five years is the normal convention. Also traditional is a rotation between anglophone and francophone incumbents. Once in office, these individuals maintain direct contact with the Queen, wherever she may be at the time.
The office has its roots in the 16th and 17th century colonial governors of New France and British North America, and thus is the oldest continuous institution in Canada. The present incarnation of the position emerged with Canadian Confederation and the British North America Act in 1867, which defined the viceregal office as the "Governor General acting by and with the Advice of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada." However, the post still ultimately represented the government of the United Kingdom (that is, the monarch in his British council) until, after continually decreasing involvement by the British government and the passage in 1931 of the Statute of Westminster, the governor general became the direct, personal representative of the uniquely Canadian sovereign (the monarch in his Canadian council). During that process of gradual independence, the governor general took on an ever expanding role: in 1904, the Militia Act granted permission for the governor general to use the title of Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian militia, in the name of the sovereign and actual Commander-in-Chief, and in 1927 the first official international visit by a governor general was made. In 1947, King George VI issued letters patent allowing the viceroy to carry out almost all of the monarch's powers in his or her stead. Per the Constitution Act, 1982, any constitutional amendment that affects the Crown, including the Office of the Governor General, requires the unanimous consent of each provincial legislature as well as the federal parliament.
The current governor general is David Lloyd Johnston, who has served since 1 October 2010; Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper recommended him to succeed Michaëlle Jean. Johnston's wife—who is thus the viceregal consort—is Sharon Johnston.
According to the Canadian government, the title Governor General is not hyphenated, even though a hyphen is used for the same title in other Commonwealth realms. Many other media organizations in Canada ignore this rule, however, and use the governor-general spelling. As governor is the main noun in the title, it is the term that is pluralized; thus, it is governors general, rather than governor generals. Moreover, both terms are often capitalized, particularly when preceding an incumbent's name, but sometimes they are not (e.g. Canadian governors general).
The governor general is required by both the Constitution Act (previously the British North America Act), 1867, and the letters patent issued in 1947 by King George VI. As such, the Canadian monarch approves with commission issued under the royal sign-manual and Great Seal of Canada her Canadian prime minister's recommendation for viceroy, who is from then until being sworn-in referred to as the governor general-designate.
Besides the administration of the oaths of office, there is no set formula for the swearing-in of a governor general-designate. Though there may therefore be variations to the following, the appointee will generally travel to Ottawa, there receiving an official welcome and taking up residence at 7 Rideau Gate, and will begin preparations for their upcoming role, meeting with various high level officials to ensure a smooth transition between governors general. The sovereign will also hold an audience with the appointee and will at that time induct both the governor general-designate and his or her spouse into the Order of Canada as Companions, as well as appointing the former as a Commander of both the Order of Military Merit and the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (should either person not have already received either of those honours).
The swearing-in ceremony begins with the arrival at 7 Rideau Gate of one of the ministers of the Crown, who then accompanies the governor general-designate to Parliament Hill, where a guard of honour awaits to give a general salute. From there, the party is led by the Queen's parliamentary messenger—the Usher of the Black Rod—to the Senate chamber, wherein all justices of the Supreme Court, senators, members of parliament, and other guests are assembled. The Queen's commission for the governor general-designate is then read aloud by the Secretary to the Governor General and the required oaths are administered to the appointee by either the chief justice or one of the puisne justices of the Supreme Court; the three oaths are: the Oath of Allegiance, the Oath of Office as Governor General and Commander-in-Chief, and the Oath as Keeper of the Great Seal of Canada. With the affixing of their signature to these three solemn promises, the individual is officially the governor general, and at that moment the Flag of the Governor General of Canada is raised on the Peace Tower, the Viceregal Salute is played by the Central Band of the Canadian Forces, and a 21-gun salute is conducted by the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. The governor general is seated on the throne while a prayer is read, and then receives the Great Seal of Canada (which is passed to the registrar general for protection), as well as the chains of both the Chancellor of the Order of Canada and of the Order of Military Merit. The governor general will then give a speech, outlining whichever cause or causes he or she will champion during their time as viceroy.
The incumbent will generally serve for at least five years, though this is only a developed convention, and the governor general still technically acts at Her Majesty's pleasure (or the Royal Pleasure). The prime minister may therefore recommend to the Queen that the viceroy remain in her service for a longer period of time, sometimes upwards of more than seven years. A governor general may also resign, and two have died in office. In such a circumstance, or if the governor general leaves the country for longer than one month, the Chief Justice of Canada (or, if that position is vacant or unavailable, the senior puisne justice of the Supreme Court) serves as Administrator of the Government and exercises all powers of the governor general.
Between 1867 and 1952, all governors general were born beyond Canada's borders and were members of the Peerage; these viceroys spent a relatively limited time in Canada, but their travel schedules were so extensive that they could "learn more about Canada in five years than many Canadians in a lifetime." However, even though prior to the implementation of the Canadian Citizenship Act in 1947 all Canadian nationals were as equally British subjects as their British counterparts, the idea of Canadian-born persons being appointed governor general was raised as early as 1919, when, at the Paris Peace Conference, Canadian prime minister Robert Borden consulted with Prime Minister of South Africa Louis Botha and the two agreed that the viceregal appointees should be long-term residents of their respective dominions. Calls for just such an individual to be made viceroy came again in the late 1930s, but it was not until Vincent Massey's appointment by King George VI in 1952 that the position was filled by a Canadian-born individual; this practice continued until 1999, when Queen Elizabeth II commissioned as her representative Adrienne Clarkson, a Hong Kong-born refugee to Canada. Moreover, the practice of alternating between anglophone and francophone Canadians was instituted with the appointment of Georges Vanier, a francophone who succeeded the anglophone Massey. All persons whose names are put forward to the Queen for approval must first undergo background checks by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Although required by the tenets of constitutional monarchy to be nonpartisan while in office, governors general were frequently former politicians; a number held seats in the House of Lords by virtue of their inclusion in the peerage. Appointments of former ministers of the Crown in the 1980s and 1990s were criticised by Peter H. Russell, who stated in 2009: "much of [the] advantage of the monarchical system is lost in Canada when prime ministers recommend partisan colleagues to be appointed governor general and represent [the Queen]." Clarkson was the first governor general in Canadian history without either a political or military background, as well as the first Asian-Canadian and the second woman, following on Jeanne Sauvé. The third woman to hold this position was also the first Caribbean-Canadian governor general, Michaëlle Jean.
There has been, from time to time, proposals put forward for modifications to the selection process of the governor general. Most recently, the group Citizens for a Canadian Republic has advocated the election of the nominee to the Queen, either by popular or parliamentary vote; a proposal echoed by Adrienne Clarkson, who called for the prime minister's choice to not only be vetted by a parliamentary committee, but also submit to a televised quiz on Canadiana. Constitutional scholars, editorial boards, and the Monarchist League of Canada have argued against any such constitutional tinkering with the viceregal appointment process, stating that the position being "not elected is an asset, not a handicap," and that an election would undermine the impartiality necessary to the proper functioning of the governor general.
A new approach was used in 2010 for the selection of David Lloyd Johnston as governor general-designate. For the task, Prime Minister Stephen Harper convened a special search group — the Governor General Consultation Committee — which consisted of Sheila-Marie Cook, secretary to the Governor General (the chairperson); Canadian Secretary to the Queen and Usher of the Black Rod Kevin MacLeod; Christopher Manfredi, dean of the Faculty of Arts at McGill University; Rainer Knopff, a political scientist at the University of Calgary; Father Jacques Monet, of the Canadian Institute of Jesuit Studies; and Christopher McCreery, historian and private secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. The group, which was described as a "tight circle of monarchists," was instructed to find a non-partisan candidate who would respect the monarchical aspects of the viceregal office and conducted extensive consultations with more than 200 people across the country, including academics, provincial premiers, current and former political party leaders, former prime ministers, and others, in order to develop a short list of candidates for the position.