Friday morning’s Toronto Star had William Shatner on the cover, the former star of Star Trek, who has a fan movement on Facebook vying for him to be Governor General of Canada.
For those unfamiliar, the Governor General is the nation’s de facto head of state. While the monarch (currently Elizabeth II) is the actual head of state, she cannot perform those duties, as she is also the head of state for numerous other countries, and resides in the United Kingdom. Governors General provide a mostly symbolic role, they represent the nation on an international level, are a spokesperson for the country, sign bills into law (once they’ve passed through the Commons and Senate), dissolves parliament, calls elections and read the throne speech. For Americans this might be a strange thing as their head of government and head of state are within the same role, President. Most world nations divide the two roles.
Governors General are appointed by The Queen upon recommendation by her Prime Minister. Until 1952, Canadian Governors General were British Lords, Dukes, or Earls, with ties to the Royal Family. In 1952, Vincent Massey was appointed as the first Canadian Governor General of Canada. Currently Michaëlle Jean holds the position; a reporter who immigrated to Canada from Haiti, and is fluently bilingual, she possess the two qualities important in a Governor General, is fluently bilingual and is statesman-like.
William Shatner might be amazing, but he is not in any way statesman-like. Would Canada really want him representing us on an international stage? Sure, if we needed someone to Captain HMCS Enterprise1, he’d be the first one we’d call.
Does Shatner even speak French?
Leonard Cohen, however, is a much better choice. He’s a fluently bilingual artist, who is respected, not mocked. Cohen is very statesman-like, and could be the first Jewish head of states in Canada2. That is assuming we ignore the fact that he’s now an ordained Buddhist monk.
What’s most annoying about this entire thing is The Star’s reporting on it. Someone said, “it would be awesome if Shatner were Governor General. I’m gonna start a Facebook group.” People joined. Then the Toronto Star ran an article on the FRONT PAGE. Proof once again that newspapers are useless.