---Hello, London, we have a problem!
We ask ourselves strange questions sometimes, here in Canada. But not always the right ones; for example, on the occasion of the resignation of the Governor General of Canada, Julie Payette. Let's recall the facts to better understand.
Based on the English model, the Canadian parliamentary monarchy means that, in the 21st century, we still have two people who share executive power: the head of government (a prime minister) and the head of state (a Governor General). The latter is not elected, but appointed by the Queen of England, who lives 7,000 km away, (much) closer to Europe than to the American continent, while the Prime Minister takes office through indirect election (his party, having obtained a relative or absolute majority, can automatically place its leader in that position). In both cases, we are far from true democratic representativeness. Ah, I forgot, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (the highest court in the land), who is himself unelected but appointed by the government, with the agreement of the House of Commons and the Senate, can replace the Governor General, as will be the case in the coming months.
This is where the average Canadian, like me, is surprised. They are astonished to hear about this person, this "Governor General". They're surprised because it only happens once in a while, in a federal election, for example, so every four years or so. This ordinary citizen is also surprised because he doesn't understand what is going on, what is the purpose of a Governor General, why Julie Payette appears in the uniformed photos as a general, why her resignation seems to create so much political turmoil...
Moreover, if you have, like me, listened to political commentators, they have only added to the confusion. Indeed, their messages are contradictory: the Governor General would have only a symbolic role these days, that of a head of state with no real power, only present to represent the British monarchy, which has continued to cover us with its benevolent and paternalistic gaze since the 18th century; the Governor General, however, has the power to sanction bills, to choose the prime minister, to refuse his or her appointment, even if his or her party has won the election, or to dissolve parliament, for example, if the government suffers a vote of no confidence. On the face of it, his powers are great. But "constitutional conventions" (as legal experts say) mean that in reality no Governor in Canadian history for more than a century has exercised his or her discretionary power, opposing election results or the result of a lost confidence vote. Force of habit.
Under these conditions, the real question to be asked is not whether Julie Payette's resignation is justified, whether Justin Trudeau lacked judgement, or how Canadian political life will be able to continue with a temp doing only half of the work, or who could replace her, whether it will be a woman or a man, a French-speaking or an English-speaking person, or how the multiple awards that a Governor General gives out will be able to be given, but why, still in 2021, we are keeping this vestige – paid and maintained handsomely with our taxes – of an anachronistic political regime.