Out-going Canadian Governor-General, The Right Honourable David Johnston, gave an interview to Canadian magazine Maclean’s as he prepares to wrap up a historical seven-year term in the post.
Johnston spoke about his time working with the diametrically opposed governments of Prime Minister Steven Harper and current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before shifting to talk about Queen Elizabeth II and the future of the monarchy in Canada.
“She’s remarkably physically and mentally acute, and it’s wonderful to be with her,” Johnston said.
“We’ve found both her and her husband so down to earth, so warm, and in her case so very wise. Each time we’ve had the chance to meet I’ve had the sense of someone who’s seen more history than any other living person. It’s been quite a thrill to interact with her.”
Johnston spoke of his last visit with The Queen, saying, “It was a bit nostalgic there because we both knew it was the last time we would see each other in this capacity.”
But Johnston also cautioned against abolishing the monarchy in Canada, saying that once The Queen passes, there will probably be a debate about its merits in modern Canadian society.
“My own view,” he said, “is that we have an Act of Succession, the succession is clear, and my role and that of the other members of the vice-regal family is to make that as smooth as it possibly can be.”
Johnston said he’s been in many debates about this subject before, and he tells schoolchildren when he debates them, “You know, Canada has evolved since 1867. We’re the product of a thousand years of constitutional history. We’ve made changes, when changes were appropriate, in how we govern ourselves.
“If you wanted to name 10 countries around the world that seem to have government that pretty well satisfies the needs of the vast majority of people and has a degree of trust, you’d probably have on the list: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada.
“What’s common to those? They’re all constitutional monarchies with vigorous parliamentary democracies. So, something has been working well for us.”
Johnston will be succeeded by former astronaut Julie Payette, who, early yesterday, met The Queen at Balmoral Castle ahead of her October instalment.