Governor General Me

I'm liking my chances next time around.

By Steve Burgess 8 Aug 2005 |

Steve Burgess is a freelance writer and the author of Who Killed Mom?, published in 2011 by Greystone Books.

Born in Norwalk Ohio, home of the famous virus, Steve was raised in Regina, SK, and Brandon, MB. He writes a regular column for The Tyee, often reviewing films but also, sometimes, detailing his hilarious world travels for Tyee readers. Steve is a former CBC Radio host and has won two National Magazine Awards. He has also won three Western Magazine Awards.

Reporting Beat: Travel, pop culture, politics, cobbling, knife sharpening, furnace repair.

Twitter: @steveburgess1

Website: Steve Burgess

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Michaelle Jean is the new Governor General of Canada. Playing the part of John Ralston-Saul will be Jean’s doppelganger husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond. For my part, naturally I’m thrilled. I am shining up my shoes, smiling fiercely, rehearsing my “bonjours” and “enchantees.” I stand ready to serve.

Now that CBC/Newsworld host Jean is replacing former CBC host Adrienne Clarkson in the nation’s highest office, the pattern is set. The main criterion for Governor-Generaling is CBC on-air experience. That narrows the focus to a select group. As the former host of a CBC talk show, I like my chances for a future appointment to one of the few gigs where an enthusiastic amateur ribbon-cutter can turn pro.

True, my gig hosting @the end lasted only four seasons on CBC and Newsworld before the plug was pulled. But so what? Larry Campbell dropped into the mayor’s office for a one-term cup of coffee and bang—direct to the Senate. I put in enough CBC time to qualify as a future Governor General. Plus, I honed my generalship through many teenage years spent playing Risk (my strategy: conquer Australia first, then work outward. Under my guidance, territorial disputes with Denmark would be resolved by taking over North America and then putting the extra five armies into a strategic Iceland base. But Clarkson never took my calls).

To do: Inspire Post’s wrath

The reasons for choosing Governor-General candidates from CBC personnel are murky, but it may have something to do with the National Post. The Governor General’s office is not a hotbed of breaking news, and it can be difficult to keep this important ceremonial figure in the public eye. By picking Clarkson, with her progressive public broadcasting history, the government inadvertently stumbled onto a great PR strategy. Clarkson has been regularly discussed on both the front page and the editorial page of the Post, a paper that considers sniping at the pinko CBC to be part of its core mandate. Thus, the free-spending, fuzzy-liberal activities of Clarkson were watched by the Post like a stray backpack on a London subway. You can’t buy that kind of free publicity. CBC people are a lock for the G-G position now.

You’re thinking they’ll pick charming CBC host Gloria Macarenko before they ever get to me? Forget it. Too tall. Plus, Prince Rupert makes a lousy political power base. Ian Hanomansing? He’s a mean drunk. A few too many champagne receptions, a few too many ambassadors challenged to arm-punching contests, and they’d come begging for my services.

Some will argue that the CBC part of Jean’s resume was not the most crucial aspect. It may be her inspiring immigrant back-story. Got that covered. My forebears were refugees from the hard, cruel cuisine of Scotland.

Still young, you know

Or perhaps the key credential offered by both Clarkson and Jean is marriage to a balding intellectual. I’m not worried about that angle, although I may hook up with a Conservative just to shore up my political base. Alternately, if my own hair starts to go I could propose to Wendy Mesley and let her be Governor General. I’d be OK with the Prince Philip gig.

I’ve got time, anyway. The job won’t be open for a while. When I do get the call, I promise you this—as your Governor General I will dissolve the government every year at tax time just to keep them distracted. And every Monday, if the weekend weather sucked. By the power vested in me our national slogan “A Mari Usque Ad Mare,” henceforth will be broadly interpreted as “Kegger at Rideau Hall.”

In the meantime I’ll be looking for work. Got any pesky ribbons that need cutting?

Steve Burgess readies himself for public service as critic at large for The Tyee.  [Tyee]

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