Dear Governor Simon, beware of Greeks carrying gifts | United States and Canada
Too often, journalists are concerned with the “who” to be concerned with the “why”.
This squeaky trend was predictably manifested in the wake of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s belated decision – as some insist – to appoint an Indigenous woman as governor general earlier this week.
Mary Simon, an Inuit leader and former diplomat, is the first Indigenous person to serve as Canada’s titular head of state.
“Canada is a place to find a people, a people who serve those around them; who meet the great challenges with hope and determination and, above all, who never stop working to build a better future. In other words, people like Mary Simon, ”Trudeau said of introducing the new Governor General at a press conference.
The Prime Minister has been applauded by a gushing establishment press that always gushes and applauds when another Governor General is unveiled in a uniquely Canadian marching band. (More on that later.)
Yet several writers have berated Trudeau for not appointing Simon governor general in 2017, choosing instead to elevate astronaut and engineer, Julie Payette, to the frilly ceremonial post. (More on Payette later, too.)
Left unanswered amid all the soft tsk-tsking – so as not to deviate from the historical moment – was the reason Trudeau hesitated in making his “revolutionary” selection.
The answer lies in Trudeau’s cynical and calculating modus operandi.
In 2017, Trudeau and his haughty group of scholarly advisers likely calibrated that there was little to no public relations dividends to be derived from the appointment of an Indigenous governor general, although several prominent candidates were promoted. at the time.
The persistent and crushing injustices and deprivation that remain a common feature of the lives of many First Nations in Canada were not very much on the myopic radar of the media. They didn’t matter then.
Thus, Trudeau and the optical company still in search of a profitable optical company chose to replace an aging male academic with the young, intelligent and exuberant Payette to confirm the good faith “feminist” of the new Prime Minister. – which counted at the time. .
To prove the politically timely point, an approving admirer / commentator quickly praised Trudeau for his “choice inspired by a feminist prime minister who frequently speaks of the importance of female heroes to his own young daughter.”
Parish mission accomplished.
By 2021, however, Canada’s political and cultural landscape had radically changed and Trudeau, always keen to harness the prevailing wind, appointed Simon to the antiquated post to point out, once again, his “progressive” credentials at the dawn of time. ‘a federal election that it is. should call soon.
The glow of Payette’s North Star had faded, fatally tarnished by a damning report of constant and disturbing allegations that Rideau Hall – the official residence of the Governor General – was plagued by intimidation and harassment .
Payette resigned – instantly abandoned and deemed persona non grata by the same “feminist” prime minister who had confidently insisted that “Madame Payette was going to become an extraordinary governor general.” It represents the best of Canadian values.
Months later, the shocking discovery of graves filled with the bodies of over a thousand and counting indigenous children – all victims of the church-run and state-sanctioned internment camps otherwise known as the “Residential schools” – pushed indigenous “issues” to the forefront of fluctuating media consciousness.
Taken together, these two seemingly disparate events provided Trudeau with an opening not only to distance himself from the Payette debacle he authored, but to demonstrate that the long-forgotten plight of this country’s Indigenous peoples was suddenly at the top. of his opportunistic mind – and he did.
Parish mission accomplished – once again.
But Simon would be wise to remember that the Prime Minister and an equally inconstant gallery of experts praising her today as a gifted and perhaps transformational figurehead, once inundated Payette, now permanently in purgatory, with the same generic distinctions using almost verbatim. fluid and effervescent language.
Ms. Payette’s life has been about discovery, dreaming big, and always staying focused on the things that matter most. These truly Canadian traits, along with her years of public service, make her unmistakably qualified for this high. function, ”Trudeau said in July 2017.
One enamored scribe wrote: “Justin Trudeau sent a powerful message by appointing an engineer and a scientist – and, oh yes, an astronaut as governor general… As a symbol of scientific excellence, Julie Payette is the woman whose Canada needs.
And, finally, a dew-eyed columnist celebrated Payette as, of course, an ambitious national symbol. “The role of the modern governor general is now to be that kind of national symbol: Prime ministers no longer make it a political reward, but try to find someone above the fray who represents what Canada is.” or aspires to be. “
As a Republican, I am allergic – philosophically and professionally – to those sticky, embarrassing trinkets that equate a worn out and anachronistic institution with “service” and the amorphous and fantastical notions of “symbols” that are meant to embody and convey information. vague, often indecipherable “messages” by their words and their actions in royal hues.
Despite all the silly and pretentious rhetoric, Payette has proven to be an imperfect figure who allegedly berated and intimidated his staff to tears and created a ‘toxic workplace’.
Given Payette’s public trajectory from “modern,” a dazzling “symbol” of “what Canada is or aspires to be” to the excommunicated outcast, a question comes to mind: why such a talented and accomplished woman like Simon Would she risk the same unfortunate fate by agreeing to play an antediluvian role which, constitutionally, requires her to take orders without question from a prime minister and kneel before a queen?
Simon takes on a dictatorial post which will also mean, to a large extent, that she read speeches and in some cases write them up by the Prime Minister’s staff, ride in a horse-drawn carriage during parades, that she pledges allegiance and speaks soothing things about a nation and monarchy that have caused deep and indelible damage and harm to the Indigenous peoples of Canada.
Ironically, just two days after Simon was christened the next Governor General, another formidable Indigenous woman, MP Jody Wilson-Raybould, announced that she would not stand for re-election.
In a letter explaining his decision, Wilson-Raybould pointed a sharp and accusatory finger at the Prime Minister who had just appointed Simon.
The “crisis” facing Canadian democracy, Wilson-Raybould wrote, was the product of “a lack of inclusiveness. The power of the Prime Minister and the centralization of power in the hands of those who are not elected. The erosion of guiding principles and conventions to the point where the consequences of unlawful acts committed for political ends are limited or non-existent ”.
Wilson-Raybould’s not-so-camouflaged and scathing indictment of Trudeau’s essential punitive character arose out of her experience as an Indigenous woman turned Minister of Justice and Attorney General who refused to appease a prime minister when ” he repeatedly pressured her to drop the criminal prosecution of a major Quebec engineering firm facing charges of bribery and corruption, and enter into a plea deal at the eve of a federal vote.
For standing up for and upholding the rule of law, Wilson-Raybould’s loyalty, honesty and motives have been “called into question” by the Prime Minister and his caucus eager to please the kid-king – with the exception of another principled minister. Ultimately Wilson-Raybould was kicked out of Cabinet and the Liberal Party to sit as an independent in Parliament.
To his credit, Wilson-Raybould hailed Simon’s appointment as governor general on Twitter – while simultaneously making, it seems, an indirect reference to Trudeau’s mercenary nature. “Congratulations to Her Excellency Ms. Mary J. May Simon… grateful for your knowledge, dignity and integrity in these difficult times.”
She could have added this warning: Beware of Greeks carrying gifts.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.