Thursday, July 08, 2010

David Johnston a good pick for Governor General

I made the mistake of publicly committing the other night to writing a congratulatory blog post were Harper to follow-through on the rumoured pick of David Johnston for Governor General. As expected, Johnston is the choice and, unfortunately, I keep my promises! This is a good pick and I'll repeat what I wrote when Jim Travers first brought up his name just over a month ago: "As for a view...irrespective of the involvement by Johnston in framing the Oliphant commission, he is by all accounts someone of high integrity, a legal scholar to boot. It's a leap to think that there would be any possibility of bias if he were to become Governor General, with all the sensitivity that position now holds in this era of minority governments. He would be a satisfactory pick to be sitting in the Governor General's chair whenever Stephen Harper might come calling."

That last point is the key one to me, why he would be OK to be on the receiving end of a Prime Ministerial visit. Johnston is a lawyer (with lots of law professor colleagues in his past who would likely be a phone call away) and is likely to be very careful in managing the Governor General's role in our era of foreseeable minority governments from here on out. He will likely have to make one or two key decisions, like Jean, and would be fully aware of recent history and the challenges he might be facing.

He's also undoubtedly highly aware of the criticism he took over his framing of the Oliphant terms of reference narrowly. This all provides extra impetus for him to know that he will be scrutinized heavily and that his reputation, his integrity would be on the line should he make a controversial decision that is seen to be unreasonably favouring a given outcome. His c.v. indicates he's clearly someone who has a track record of doing exceptionally well with the institutions he leads, there's no reason to believe he'd do otherwise with the institution of Governor General. So credit to Harper on this choice.

[Regularly scheduled programming returns shortly...:)]