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Topic – Exploring Canada’s Governor General

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Exploring Canada’s Governor General

The head of Canada’s government is the prime minister. But the official head of state is the king or queen of Canada, who is also the king or queen of Great Britain. The person who represents the monarch in Canada is the Governor General.

Becoming a Governor General

Rideau Hall, the official residence of both the Canadian monarch and the Governor General

Canadians vote for their Members of Parliament and their prime minister, but they do not elect the Governor General. One of the prime minister’s jobs is to select the right person for this job. The prime minister then tells the monarch whom he has chosen, and the monarch appoints that person.

Working with the Government

Lord Tweedsmuir gives the Speech from the Throne, 1938

The Governor General has many roles. One of them is to work with the Members of Parliament and the members of the Senate, which is another part of the government.

When Parliament first meets after an election, the Governor General reads out a paper called the Speech from the Throne. The speech is written by the political party that won the election, and it describes what these politicians plan to do for the country. 

If the government wants to change any laws or bring in new ones, the Governor General must sign the change, called a bill, in a special ceremony. When the Governor General signs the bill, it receives royal assent and it becomes a law. 

Lots More to Do

Flag of the Canadian Army from 2013 to 2016

The Governor General is also the Commander-in-Chief of Canada. That means they are the head of the Canadian Army and other armed forces.

In Canada and around the world, the Governor General must attend many ceremonies. For example, the Governor General presents medals to outstanding Canadians. 

There have been more than 25 Governors General since Canada became a country in 1867. They have all lived in Rideau Hall, which is located in Ottawa, which is Canada’s capitol.

Famous Governors General

Stanley Cup, 1930

Lord Stanley was Canada’s sixth Governor General. He is most famous for donating the trophy that National Hockey League teams battle for—the Stanley Cup. The Grey Cup, which is the Canadian Football League’s top prize, was created by the country’s ninth Governor General, Earl Grey.

Vincent Massey became Governor General in 1952. That was the first time a person born in Canada was appointed to this job. Jeanne Sauvé was Canada’s first female Governor General. Adrienne Clarkson, the second female Governor General, was born in Hong Kong. She was the first person of a visible minority to be Governor General.

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