Monar­chy im­por­tant: John­ston

Gover­nor Gen­eral says too few un­der­stand Queen’s role

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - BY JOR­DAN PRESS

The Gover­nor Gen­eral says he has be­come con­vinced more than ever of the im­por­tance of the monar­chy in Cana­dian democ­racy, but re­grets too few in the coun­try un­der­stand the unique role of the Crown.

The monar­chy is a source of sta­bil­ity in Canada’s 150-year his­tory, and one of the rea­sons why the coun­try has thus far been im­mune from more pop­ulist move­ments grip­ping other parts of the globe, Gov. Gen. David John­ston said.

The Queen, rep­re­sented by the Gover­nor Gen­eral as head of state, rep­re­sents the “spirit of the coun­try” and com­ple­ments the role the prime min­is­ter plays as the head of gov­ern­ment, John­ston said Wednes­day in a tele­phone in­ter­view from Lon­don at the close of a two-day visit with the Queen.

“The head of state func­tion has to do with sta­bil­ity, of rule of law, of fun­da­men­tal val­ues, per­sist­ing year upon year, decade upon decade,” he said.

“Our sys­tem works well and I guess if I had any re­gret it’s that we don’t un­der­stand it bet­ter and that we don’t see as Cana­di­ans the unique­ness of it and how for the most part it serves us well,” he said.

The trip to the U.K. is likely to be John­ston’s last as the Queen’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Canada.

John­ston said in their fi­nal pri­vate meet­ing Tues­day, the two talked about Canada’s role in in­ter­na­tional diplo­macy and the Crown’s re­la­tion­ship with the coun­try’s Indige­nous Peo­ples.

“We cover the kind of top­ics that you’d ex­pect she would be in­ter­ested in and she al­ways wants a kind of up­date on where we stand and how we see the next few years,” he said.

On Wednes­day, he hosted her at Canada House in cen­tral Lon­don to cel­e­brate Canada’s 150 an­niver­sary; he touched the Queen’s arm, help­ing her up and down the red-car­peted stairs, a breach of pro­to­col that drew at­ten­tion from the Bri­tish tabloids.

The Queen was also given a brooch, called the Sap­phire Ju­bilee Snowflake Brooch, to mark her 65 years on the throne. The piece is dec­o­rated with 48 sap­phires from Baf­fin Is­land, the only sap­phire de­posit ever found in Canada. The Queen was joined by her hus­band Prince Philip; it is the last time he will visit Canada House with his im­pend­ing re­tire­ment next month from pub­lic events.

The Queen toured a col­lec­tion of Cana­dian ar­ti­facts from the royal col­lec­tion that in­cluded sev­eral pho­tographs of her pre­sid­ing at im­por­tant events.

Oliver Urquhart Irvine, royal li­brar­ian and as­sis­tant keeper of the Royal Ar­chives, joked that it was some­what odd to ex­plain the his­tor­i­cal ar­ti­facts to the Queen dur­ing the tour.

“She was there,” he said. “She knows the ma­te­rial bet­ter than I do.”

The Queen met with a num­ber of Cana­di­ans, in­clud­ing Dean and Dan Caten, the iden­ti­cal twin fash­ion de­sign­ers be­hind the brand Dsquared2, and Jen­nifer Sidey, who ear­lier this month was an­nounced as one of Canada’s new as­tro­nauts. It’s one of her pre­de­ces­sors now tak­ing over from John­ston; his term comes to an end in Septem­ber and the reins of Rideau Hall will be handed over to Julie Payette.

At the an­nounce­ment of her ap­point­ment last week, Payette was asked about the role of the monar­chy in Canada to­day. She re­sponded that she didn’t think it was ap­pro­pri­ate to an­swer the ques­tion at the time.

Rideau Hall is still or­ga­niz­ing dates for Payette’s au­di­ence with the Queen. John­ston said he knows Payette from her days as a McGill Uni­ver­sity un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dent, adding he and his wife Sharon were over­joyed to hear she would take over from him.

STE­FAN ROUSSEAU/PA VIA AP

Britain’s Queen El­iz­a­beth II, ac­com­pa­nied by the Duke of Ed­in­burgh, sign the vis­i­tor’s book at Canada House in Trafal­gar Square, cen­tral Lon­don, July 19, mark­ing the 150th an­niver­sary of Canada’s Con­fed­er­a­tion.

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