Monday, August 15, 2005

Background Checks

There are a few things I don't get about the PMO's take on Governor General designate Michaelle Jean's federalism or lack thereof.

Martin called Klein and Harper to "assure them that the viceregal couple are not separatists." He tells them that background checks were done by CSIS and the RCMP.

Is this an admission that CSIS and the RCMP keep tabs on how people voted in the 1995 referendum? Or is it just a statement that M. Lafond and Mme. Jean are not terrorist sympathizers? But no one alleged that. So where is the "smear campaign"?

Boulanger does not seem to have alleged that Mme. Jean is a separatist, but only that she knew many (including, presumably, her husband). Since she was a broadcaster in Quebec, this seems about as shocking as that Ralph Klein knows people in the oil industry, or that Jack Layton has a pal in the Sierra Club.

Should a separatist be Governor General? Obviously, it would be improper if she were to advocate independence (or any other controversial political position) while in office. It would also be improper for her to favour the Bloc in any way in the event she ends up exercising the reserve powers of the Crown.

But if she just voted "Oui" in 1995, then making her Governor General seems like a harmless act of elite assimilation, like putting a former Marxist trade union leader in the House of Lords. As such, a supporter of the British constitutional tradition (and who else should care about the Governor General) should applaud.

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