What Is a ‘Governor General’ Anyway?

In the News

Mary Simon has been named Canada’s new Governor General. But what will she do? How was she chosen?

What’s her role?

As you know, Canada’s head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. However, Mary Simon, the new Governor General, will now act as the Queen’s representative here in Canada.

What are her responsibilities?

The Governor General has many responsibilities, including :

  • Appointing Senators, upon the Prime Minister’s recommendation.
  • Calling Parliament into session and dissolving Parliament.
  • Signing legislation that Parliament has passed into law.
  • Naming judges to Superior Court of each province and territory, which is the ‘default’ court in our legal system.

How is the Governor General chosen?

The Prime Minister of Canada is responsible for naming the Governor General.

Generally, the Prime Minister will create a selection committee to assist in the process. The committee’s job is to create a list of qualified candidates and conduct background checks. The committee will then give that list to the Prime Minister for consideration.