A look at the history and role of Canada's governor general

·2 min read

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named Mary Simon as Canada's next governor general. Here is a quick look at the history and role of the office:

- The governor general represents the Queen at the federal level in Canada and is the country's acting head of state.

- The office of governor general is the oldest continuous institution in Canada, dating back to Samuel de Champlain serving as governor of New France in 1627.

- Champlain was the first of 18 French governors who would hold the position until 1760. From then until 1867, a total of 21 British governors and governors general held office in Canada. Vincent Massey, born in Toronto, became the first Canadian to hold the office in 1952.

- The governor general has important parliamentary responsibilities including summoning, proroguing and dissolving Parliament. The governor general also sets out the government’s program by reading the Speech from the Throne and giving Royal Assent, which brings parliamentary bills into law.

- The governor general is Canada's commander-in-chief. He or she visits military bases and honours Canadian military personnel on behalf of the Queen.

- Ceremonial duties of the governor general include promoting a sense of identity, recognizing the achievements of outstanding Canadians, receiving foreign dignitaries, and travelling overseas as the representative of Canada.

- Jeanne Sauve was named Canada's first female governor general in 1983. She was only the second woman among all the Commonwealth realms — both previous and contemporary to the time — to assume the equivalent office. Elmira Minita Gordon was appointed governor general of Belize in 1981.

- Mary Simon, who was born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec, is the first Indigenous person to hold the office of governor general.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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