The Governor General
The office of Governor General is the oldest continuous institution in Canada and is an unbroken link with the early days of our country’s recorded history. Samuel de Champlain was appointed the first governor of New France in 1627 and was followed by seventeen French governors until 1760. From then until 1867, a total of twenty-one British governors and governors general held office in Canada. The Governor General represents Her Majesty The Queen at the federal level in Canada in Her Majesty's absence, and carries out the duties in her name.
Appointed by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Governor General usually holds office for five years. Lieutenant Governors fulfill the responsibilities and functions of The Queen in the provinces in the same way that the Governor General does at the national level.
The Role and Responsibilities of the Governor General
In 1947, "Letters Patent Constituting the Office of the Governor General of Canada" (under King George VI), authorized the Governor General to exercise most of the Crown's powers on behalf of the Sovereign.
The Governor General has important parliamentary responsibilities. Some of these include:
- Summoning, proroguing and dissolving Parliament;
- Setting out the government’s program by reading the Speech from the Throne; and
- Giving Royal Assent, which makes acts of Parliament into law.
The Governor General is also Commander-in-Chief of Canada. He visits military bases and honours Canadian military personnel on behalf of The Queen.
The Governor General also fulfills important ceremonial duties, such as:
- Promoting a sense of identity;
- Recognizing the achievements of outstanding Canadians;
- Receiving foreign dignitaries;
- Travelling overseas as the representative of Canada and
- Hosting and taking part in official events.
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