Mary Simon will be our next Governor-General. She has been considered for the job ever since David Johnston got the job in 2010. It's been a long wait. But, Susan Delacourt writes, Justin Trudeau has got it right:
Sometimes a government appointment makes so much sense, one wonders why it hasn’t happened already? In Simon’s case, it actually almost did — twice.
As her husband, former CBC journalist Whit Fraser tells the story in his book True North Rising, Simon learned from the TV news in 2010 that her name was in the mix to replace Michaëlle Jean in the viceregal post.
When Johnston’s term was up in 2016, Simon’s name started to circulate again; this time, closer to the top of the field of contenders. Surely Justin Trudeau would seize the moment to install Canada’s first Indigenous person in the job, given all the new prime minister had said about his “most important” relationship with Indigenous people.
But Simon was passed over again, in favour of former astronaut Julie Payette — and we know how that all turned out.
This time, her appointment has been greeted by praise all around:
Praise has come from Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. The Bloc Québécois didn’t have much good to say, but that was more about the institution of the Crown than Simon herself. Even Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former justice minister who is normally critical of everything the Trudeau government does in the realm of Indigenous issues, had praise.
She has precisely the temperament and the experience for the job:
As someone who has served as an ambassador, a cultural leader, a journalist and a constitutional negotiator, she has amassed all the skills a governor general needs for a job heavy on ceremony, diplomacy, communication and symbolism.
Simon’s familiarity with the Constitution is not a small thing. The governor general can be called upon to be a referee in times of intense political stress, as Jean was during the so-called “coalition crisis” between Stephen Harper and the opposition in late 2008.
Four Indigenous groups were involved in the Charlottetown accord negotiations. Simon was head of the Inuit delegation. The accord was ultimately defeated in an early brush with populism in this country — a wholesale rejection in a 1992 national referendum of deals made by political elites.
It's taken a while. But she's the right person for the job.
Image: Nunatsiag News