I’ve often fought with monarchist editors on Wikipedia over the accuracy of certain statements regarding the political role of the crown in Canada. They (or more specifically, he, since it tends to largely just be a single overzealous person) insist that every mention of a political appointment in Canada be phrased something like this:
So-and-so was appointed by Governor General Romeo LeBlanc in 1994 on the advice of Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
Only in the most rigidly legalistic sense is this statement even remotely true, however. When a normal person thinks of “advice” one thinks of a sort of negotiation of ideas and opinions, as in, say, giving a friend advice on redecorating. You’d express your opinion to your friend, he would respond, either by rejecting, agreeing, or compromising.
If your advice was accepted 100% of the time, and was never questioned, you wouldn’t really be giving advice at all, however. You’d simply be bossing a subservient person around, which is a fairly good description of the dynamic between the Prime Minister of Canada and the Governor General.
Since no empirical test will ever prove otherwise, I think there’s nothing wrong with stating in sites like Wikipedia that “the Prime Minister appoints the Senate” or “the Prime Minister appoints the Supreme Court.” Indeed, to state otherwise is actually far more deceptive, since it implies that the GG and PM are somehow both important figures in the decision-making process, when really only the latter is. But monarchists prefer fantasy to reality, and will mention the Crown as constantly as possible to create the illusion of relevance and hide the fact that they lack the real thing.
Anyway, the only reason I mention all this is because of an amusing little editorial in today’s National Post. Detailing an “irreverent history of the Senate,” Larry Zolf proudly mentions that he himself has never solicited a Senate seat from a Prime Minister, except once:
In the 1980s, Senator Andrew Thompson was hiding in Mexico while being paid handsomely by the Canadian taxpayer. Senator Thompson’s poor attendance record soon became a front-page news story.
At the retirement party of governor-general Romeo LeBlanc, I saw prime minister Jean Chretien alone at the pastry table. I walked up and said: “Prime Minister, put me in the Senate and I will solve your Senator Thompson attendance problem.” “How will you do that?” Chretien asked quietly. “Simple, Prime Minister, I’ll live, eat and sleep in the red chamber and never leave the place.”
Chretien shrugged. He never put me in the Senate.
Ho ho. Anyway, I just found this anecdote quite amusing for unintentional reasons. Zolf is at a party where both the Governor General and Prime Minister are in attendance, yet when he wants a Senate seat, who does he dash straight for?