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Diplomacy in the Digital Age

Diplomacy in the Digital Age

Essays in Honour of Ambassador Allan Gotlieb
also available: Hardcover
tagged : diplomacy, essays
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Diplomacy functions best where it appraises and advises power, and does not attempt to substitute itself for the very real world of politics.
Like authority, sin, Christmas, and winter, secrecy isn’t what it used to be. Secrecy has lost its sanctity.
The diplomatic pouch has been torn asunder by the digital age, which is characterized by immediacy, transparency, profligacy, and universality. . . . In the digital age – building on the industrial age – we move from the some to the many, from the stately to the frenetic, from command to influence, from deception to candour, and from interests to issues.
Open diplomacy and open policy development – building vast global networks to harness ideas and nurture support everywhere, all the time – are the hallmarks of modern diplomacy.
A remarkable group of scholars, essayists, and practitioners have come together in this volume to celebrate Allan Gotlieb’s revolutionary contribution to the theory and practice of diplomacy in the last three decades of the twentieth century. They have come together to celebrate an outstanding intellect as well as a brilliant practitioner, a man who thinks lucidly and writes elegantly about diplomacy.
The contributors to this volume are also interested, as is Allan Gotlieb, in thinking forward about the future of diplomacy at yet another moment of significant change. Diplomacy is now being practised in the digital age. What does it mean to be a diplomat in a digitized world? What does a diplomat do differently in an age in which the information cycle spins continuously and hundreds of millions of people provide upto- date information and engage in discussion through interactive social media? We asked our contributors to look back at Allan Gotlieb’s seminal contribution in order to better understand the future.
This volume went to press in the aftermath of WikiLeaks and the beginning of the Arab Spring. WikiLeaks stunned the diplomatic community when it made public some of the more than a quarter million cables that it now has in its possession. Professionals worried actively about compromising sources, the threat to confidentiality, and the likely refusal of people to confide in diplomats now that there was no assurance that their identity would be protected. Secrecy, as Andrew Cohen puts it in his chapter, has lost its sanctity. How, diplomats worried, can they do their jobs, communicate confidential and valuable information, protect their sources, and provide the kind of analysis their governments need?
The public reaction to the leaked cables was quite different. Diplomats, people said with some surprise, are smart. “I didn’t get much new information,” one well-informed journalist told me, his voice tinged with envy and some uncertainty, “but, my God, diplomats write well.” Seasoned observers were certainly titillated by the occasional surprising morsel of gossip and entertained by some of the fripperies. Overwhelmingly, however, they were engaged and impressed by the analyses that they read. Even within the skeptical and occasionally snooty academy, colleagues grudgingly acknowledged that “these diplomats” really do provide thoughtful and incisive analyses.
Diplomats, in short, are not valuable because of the information they provide, but because of their authoritative knowledge and the quality of their analyses. Especially in a digital age awash in information, indeed drowning in information, knowledge and elegant analysis matter. They may matter even more than they did in the age of print, where editors traditionally assured the quality of what people read.
In the wake of WikiLeaks came the Arab Spring, one in a series of significant revolutionary waves in the digital age. Social media were important in helping demonstrators to organize, in feeding video to the world’s media, and in giving a platform to the protestors as they struggled against governments who were desperately trying to close off global access to disturbing pictures and stories. Al Jazeera, the Arabic television station based in Qatar, provided saturation coverage of the protest movements, but often its journalists were denied access or expelled as contestation deepened. It too relied on social media for the critical content that it needed. Diplomats, at times removed from the pitched battles in the streets, were well behind the flow of information. They were not behind, however, in the analysis their governments needed as they struggled to craft responses to rapid developments in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria.
In a Paris hotel room late in the evening of March 17, 2011, the top U.S. diplomat struggled to coordinate the international response to the advance of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and the threat they posed to civilians in Benghazi, Libya. Initially opposed to any kind of military intervention, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton changed her mind after listening to some of her senior diplomatic advisers. She worked closely with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, who had been urging a use of force to protect civilians from the vengeance of Gadhafi’s loyalists.
Rice worked the halls of the United Nations with classic diplomatic skills and promised the Secretary that she would get at least ten affirmative votes for a resolution that was far stronger than simply a no-fly zone. From Paris, Clinton worked to secure the support of Arab governments for the resolution that would be approved by the United Nations forty-eight hours later. It was this capacity to garner support for a strong resolution in New York at un headquarters, as well as Arab engagement that persuaded President Obama to move ahead.
It was very much old-school, classical diplomacy – hands-on, informal, private conversations that put together the coalition in favour of intervention in Libya. Skilled diplomats worked the phones, called in favours, and kept their political leaders informed of which country was where on what issue. They built the coalition and drafted political leaders to make the important high-level calls that were necessary to cement the deal. In the midst of a revolution that got its oxygen from social media, the protestors in Benghazi depended on the skills of professional diplomats to survive.
These two vignettes bookend the themes of this book. When Allan Gotlieb was sent to Washington as Canada’s ambassador three decades ago, he recognized immediately that the prevailing model of diplomacy would not be enough. Gotlieb continued to do what previous ambassadors had done, but also, as Marc Lortie tells us, vastly more. He reached out beyond the White House and the State Department to the Senate and the House of Representatives, to journalists and columnists and opinion makers, to the broad swath of people who influenced the open policy process with its many points of access in Washington. Sondra Gotlieb played a crucial part in this diplomatic transformation, becoming a Washington celebrity in her own right through her widely read column in the Washington Post and her talk-of-the-town parties.
How to manage the Canada-U.S. relationship remains a central question, perhaps even more complicated in the digital age than it was when the Gotliebs were in Washington. Colin Robertson looks at how the principles of Gotlieb’s diplomacy travel forward into the future. Brian Bow, Jeremy Kinsman, and David Malone engage in a lively and vigorous debate about restructuring Canada’s diplomacy as the world rebalances to include the newly rising powers of Asia and Latin America. How should Canada’s diplomats continue to pay the United States the attention it deserves but stretch to make space for Asia, Africa, and Latin America? Does the digital age enable new kinds of Canadian initiatives in parts of the world where historically Canada has not been a significant presence? Can digital platforms compensate for scarce resources? Or is Canada simply too late to a worldwide party that is well under way?

From the Hardcover edition.

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On Nostalgia

Nostalgia has an air of total irreconcilability. There is the feeling the word describes, of course: a fundamentally impossible yearning, a longing to go back even as we are driven ceaselessly forward, pushed further away from our desire even as we sit contemplating it. But it’s the actual feeling, too, that ceaselessly resists any attempt to give it shape or sense. If we say we feel nostalgic, in general or about something in particular, it rarely needs an explanation, and there likely isn’t a good one anyway: Why should it be the smell of our grandmother’s cookies or the feel of a particular sweater or the sight of a certain tree in a certain playground, and not something else, that sends us searching backwards? Why is it welling up now, on an otherwise unremarkable Tuesday? Why haven’t I felt this way for a long time? Why does it matter? And that assumes it even occurs to us to interrogate this sudden rush: one of nostalgia’s more persistent qualities is its ability to elide reason, to be felt deeply without prompting any further inquiry.

        It’s this strange aura of elusive profundity that makes nostalgia seem less like some sort of modern condition than a universal feeling that took us some time to put our finger on. If feelings in general are internal experiences that demand expression whether or not we have the means for it, our inability to actually do anything with nostalgia might be what kept it ineffable for so long. Most kinds of longing can be settled in one way or another, if not necessarily to the satisfaction of the yearner. Nostalgia can only be lived in or abandoned: it is yearning distilled to its essence, yearning not really for its own sake but because there is nothing else to be done. Maybe it resisted definition so long because naming it doesn’t help resolve anything anyway.

        Appropriately for the elusiveness of the concept, the word nostalgia did not originally mean what we now consider it to — also appropriately, it was coined with a longing for a time when there was no word for what it described. Specifically: in 1688, a Swiss medical student named Johannes Hofer gave the name nostalgia to a malady he had noticed in young Swiss people who had been sent abroad — chiefly mercenaries, one of Switzerland’s prime exports at the time, though also household servants and others who found themselves in “foreign regions.” As was the style at the time in the nascent field of “medicine more complicated than bleeding humours,” Hofer used a portmanteau from an indistinctly highfalutin form of Ancient Greek: nostos roughly means “home” — although it more often means “homecoming,” which incidentally was also the name for an entire subcategory of Greek literature, most notably the Odyssey — while algos means, more simply, “pain,” derived from Algea, the personifications of sorrow and grief, and a common classification at the time, attached to a variety of maladies that have since gotten either more precise or more vernacular names. (If you ever want to stoke excessive sympathy from, say, your boss, tell them you have cephalgia or myalgia — a headache or sore muscles, respectively).

        So nostalgia literally means “pain associated with home” — or in slightly more familiar terms, “homesickness.” This is not a coincidence, but more relevantly, it’s also not a case of fancy medical-speak being dumbed down for popular consumption. At least not generally: the English word homesickness is a more or less direct translation of nostalgia. But the original term is French, maladie du pays, and not only does it specifically refer to the tendency of the Swiss to powerfully miss their home country, it precedes Hofer by at least thirty years. Hofer’s coinage brought a specifically medical dimension, insomuch as medicine as we know it existed in his time: Hofer’s observations were quite detailed, but still entirely anecdotal, and subject to a lot of conjecture. What he lacked in scientific rigour he made up for with linguistics, attempting to legitimize medicine’s dominion over the concept with multiple coinages, including nostomania (obsession with home, which, as you’ll see in a second, is probably more accurate to the “disease” as he conceived it), philopatridomania (obsessive love of one’s homeland), and years later, in the second edition of his thesis, pothopatridalgia (pain from the longing for the home of one’s fathers, which certainly has the advantage of precision, if not rhythm).

        Though the difference between mere homesickness and medical nostalgia was mostly a case of ancient language, Hofer nevertheless describes a serious disease, one that could progress from simple physical ailments like ringing in the ears or indigestion to near-catatonia and even death. Its root cause, according to Hofer, was “the quite continuous vibration of animal spirits through those fibres of the middle brain in which impressed traces of ideas of the fatherland still cling.” As Helmut Illbruck explains in his book Nostalgia: Origins and Ends of an Unenlightened Disease, essentially what that means is that the nostalgic suffers from a powerful obsession with their home that eventually makes them entirely insensate to any other experience or stimulation. Illbruck points out that the action Hofer describes does loosely capture how the brain seems to store, process, and recall memories, which may explain some of why his concept caught on, at least in the medical circles in which it persisted for the next few hundred years.

        As it happens, though, a primordial understanding of the structure of the mind isn’t the only key insight that would stick to nostalgia even as its conception developed. There are two other big ones. First, Hofer recognized that nostalgia was less about whatever the nostalgic claimed to be missing than about “the strength of the imagination alone”: it seemed to have less to do with any material differences in the patient’s circumstances than with the collective weight of their memories, even though those were centred on a very real and specific place. Hofer’s final, curiously potent observation is his suggested cure, which he meant quite sincerely, but which elegantly captures the futility of trying to tame nostalgia, disease or otherwise: “Nostalgia admits no remedy other than a return to the Homeland.” In all his observations and diagnoses, Hofer does not seem to fully appreciate that home is often more time than place. The proof of this will reveal itself as nostalgia evolves into something so incurable that it stops being a disease entirely, and its longing begins to be associated specifically with times past — but we are getting slightly ahead of ourselves.

        Doctors proceeded to speculate about the causes and potential cures of nostalgia until roughly the twentieth century, often ignoring Hofer’s observation about the imagination’s effects, causing some curious mutations in the idea. Nostalgia did remain almost the exclusive province of the Swiss for the first few hundred years after its naming — one of the original German words for homesickness, in fact, was Schweizerkrankheit, or “the Swiss illness.” Hofer’s near-contemporary Johann Jakob Scheuchzer — a Swiss naturalist who was chiefly interested in rescuing his countrymen’s reputation from accusations of weakness — suggested that it was the change in air pressure (and maybe even quality) that made them so prone to debilitating longing. He suggested that a brief stay at the top of a tower or on a hill might restore some of their strength. There isn’t much proof Scheuchzer’s conception of the disease or cure ever really worked, but there is some indication that this sort of thinking is where Switzerland got its reputation as a healthful place to recover in a sanatorium or spa. Well after Scheuchzer, eighteenth-century physicians spent some time looking for a physical locus for nostalgia — a specific brain structure or bone — which was just as futile, with even less of an impact on Swiss tourism.

        Gradually, the notion of nostalgia attached itself almost exclusively to soldiers — Swiss mercenaries being very popular hires in armies across the continent, and doctors being a regular part of army life. It would take a little more than two centuries for doctors to figure out that there might be something more than a mysterious nerve disorder causing young men whose sole job was dismembering other humans and dying gruesomely to yearn for the comforts of home; in the meantime, cures and coping methods grew a little more creative. There are stories, including one from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Dictionnaire de musique, of foreign officers banning the playing of Swiss Ranz-des-Vaches — cow-based folk songs, historically played by herdsmen on horns as they drove their cattle down from the mountain pastures — and even the sound of cowbells, lest it paralyze their troops in nostalgic reverie. (It became a tenet of folk wisdom about the Swiss that the Ranz-des-Vaches had this power over them; it featured as metaphor or plot point in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century philosophical dialogues, dramas, poems and operas, particularly by German Romantics, who were constitutionally interested in a disease that spoke so acutely to our conceptions of self.)

        By the 1800s, the terrors of nostalgia finally spread to other countries’ soldiers. Russian physicians recommended burying alive anyone who started showing symptoms, to stop the spread of the disease — which apparently did prove quite effective. On the other side of the Atlantic, the American Civil War saw several outbreaks among the young fighting men, even though they technically had never left their homeland, per se. Their physicians were a bit kinder, suggesting occasional removal from frontline fighting would bolster their spirits (not that the doctors didn’t also suspect that the nostalgia betrayed a deep flaw in their character). The American army did apparently continue furtive explorations of the concept all the way up to the Second World War, chiefly as a way to reduce desertion, and nostalgia did maintain some interest for psychologists and psychiatrists in the first half of the twentieth century, albeit in a downgraded form: it became less disease than symptom or even disposition, usually of people who had far bigger and more immediate problems (a 1987 survey of its common historical-psychological invocations cited “acute yearning for a union with the preoedipal mother, a saddening farewell to childhood, a defence against mourning, or a longing for a past forever lost”). Despite these last tendrils, the Civil War was really the last time anybody was diagnosed as a nostalgic, as such: nostalgia was largely abandoned by the medical community by the last decades of the nineteenth century. This seems to have had less to do with any particular breakthroughs regarding brain structure or mental health than with the general inability of anyone to make meaningful headway on understanding, let alone curing, nostalgia.

        As it moved out of the medical realm and into the cultural, though, nostalgia did not fully shed its strange stigma. It first took hold in the worlds of philosophy and theory, albeit used interchangeably with the idea of homesickness, where it tended to be classed as a symptom of disorder — if not of the individual, then of the society they had built. Friedrich Nietzsche, in The Birth of Tragedy, is indicative of this line of thought: “One is no longer home anywhere, so in the end one longs to be back where one can somehow be at home because it is the only place where one would wish to be at home.” From almost its earliest non-medical considerations, nostalgia was regarded as a kind of reaction to the modern condition, a port in the discombobulating and alien storm that was modern life. Philosophers, critics, and theorists are still exploring variations on this theme, though as an object of critical theory nostalgia has gradually lost any meaningful sense of place (or even, arguably, a time) and gotten more tightly entwined with the notion of authenticity and our search for the same (as such, its usefulness and meaning spiked slightly with the waxing and waning of postmodernist thought). This is what underlies something like Baudrillard’s observation in Simulacra and Simulation that “when the real is no longer what it used to be, nostalgia assumes its full meaning”: the underlying implication is that if we were awash in some sense of the authentic, we would not have much occasion to look backwards to find it — let alone yearn for a return.

        It took some time for the popular conception to catch up to the cultural theorists. Homesickness as an idea percolated through the first half of the twentieth century, but it wasn’t until the fifties and sixties that nostalgia, as both concept and preferred term for that concept, really started to insinuate itself into the popular consciousness. Like much about nostalgia, the precise reasons for its sudden surge in popularity are fuzzy and elusive: Fred Davis, in his 1979 study of contemporary nostalgia, noted that even in the fifties nostalgia had been considered a “fancy word,” limited to professionals and “cultivated lay speakers,” but by the sixties it was in common enough parlance to be the subject of consideration in popular books and magazines. One theory Davis alludes to is that, as the notion of “home” became less potent — as people moved around more frequently, gained easier access to wider-spread sources of information, and became less creatures of a specific place — homesick lost some of its power, and nostalgia slipped in as a way to capture the same feeling without being tied down: essentially, nostalgia became a better metaphor for the feeling it was trying to describe. The concept of home became a time, not a place, so we needed a new word for it.

        One of the bitterer truths that nostalgia helps us to deal with is the fact that we so rarely know when things are ending. Nearly all of the widely accepted momentous occasions of a life are those rare times when we are definitively, incontrovertibly aware that something is over: graduations and moving-away parties and retirements and funerals — admittedly it can be hard for a person to fully appreciate the importance of their own funeral — but even birthdays and anniversaries and weddings and births, too. Some of these events, of course, tend to be dominated more by the optimism of potential, but I don’t think it’s excessively cynical to suggest that we’re able to really indulge the future precisely because we’ve had a chance to process and accept the fact that things are changing, that our school days or our pure independence or even just our twenties are definitively over. (And, of course, it’s not at all rare for even the look-forward events to provoke nostalgia for the past that’s about to be left behind.)

        For all the big moments of finality and (ideally) transition, though, there are thousands of less obvious and often profoundly more meaningful endings that we realize only in retrospect, whether their finality creeps up on us across the ages or announces itself with thunderous realization. When was the last time your daughter fell asleep on your chest? The last time you had a drink with your best friend? The last time you ate the pasta at your favourite restaurant? The last time you petted your cat? The last time you felt like a kid? The last time a song made you cry? The last time you kissed your ex? The last time you hugged your old man? It’s not just that we don’t know while it’s happening but that we literally can’t until the experience is well and truly out of reach. We don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone, and we don’t even know when it will go.

        The idea that things will go on forever is simple delusion on our part — all things pass, etc. — but as delusions go, it is surely among the most understandable, if not the most fundamentally necessary. The knowledge that life is fleeting is barely digestible in retrospect; in real time, it’s debilitating.

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Crossing Borders

Crossing Borders

Essays in Honour of Ian H. Angus
also available: eBook
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Royal Progress

Royal Progress

Canada's Monarchy in the Age of Disruption
edited by D. Michael Jackson
foreword by Margaret McCain
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Introduction: The Crown in a Time of Transition
D. Michael Jackson

Queen Elizabeth II is approaching a record-breaking seven decades as sovereign of Canada, the United Kingdom, and fourteen other Commonwealth realms. This book considers how the monarchy may evolve in Canada when her reign eventually comes to an end. Our contributors look at the historic relationship between the Indigenous Peoples and the Crown, the offices of the governor general and the lieutenant governors, the succession to the throne, and the likely shape of the reign of the next monarch. How will the venerable institution of constitutional monarchy adapt to changing circumstances in twenty-first-century Canada?

Royal Progress: Canada’s Monarchy in the Age of Disruption is a deliberately paradoxical title. Can progress and disruption coexist? Certainly the third decade of the twenty-first century may be termed an age of disruption. Yet a theme running through the essays in this book is the continuity of the monarchical institution — its sheer staying power and adaptability, which have earned it the sobriquets of “shapeshifting Crown” and “chameleon Crown.” The authors of some of the essays recognize republican objections to the British-based constitutional monarchy in Canada. They respond by emphasizing two cardinal points: (1) the Canadian monarchy is here to stay for the foreseeable future because it is entrenched in the Constitution; and (2) the Canadian version of the Crown, if properly understood, supported, and adapted, is a distinct asset to Canada’s political and social culture.

On this basis, the authors explore the positive roles the Canadian Crown can, does, and should fulfill, and changes that would facilitate the “progress” of the institution. These range from deepening and extending the link between the Crown and the Indigenous Peoples to thoroughly reforming the way viceregal representatives are chosen. Along the way, the authors offer specific proposals for strengthening the provincial dimension of the Crown, enhancing the relationship with the sovereign, and understanding the basic philosophy of constitutional monarchy. The final chapter, “Heritage and Innovation,” neatly sums up the thrust of the book.

The Indigenous Dimension
In part one, “The Crown and Indigenous Peoples,” four authors, two of them Indigenous, explore the meaning and potential of this centuries-old relationship. For them, it involves not just political and constitutional arrangements, but a profound, almost mystical, rapport with the sovereign, and with the principles and ideals she represents.

Respected Six Nations scholar Rick W. Hill Sr. and Nathan Tidridge, a perceptive observer of First Nations–Crown matters, hearken as far back as the seventeenth-century encounters of French and Dutch settlers with the First Nations in eastern North America. Negotiated through “wampum diplomacy,” peace agreements between Indigenous nations and European monarchs allowed “radically different cultures to be incorporated into the complex networks and relationships that already existed between the various Indigenous nations.” English, then British, settlers quickly picked up on the practice, which evolved into the rich and complex Crown-Indigenous rapport that continues to this day in Canada. For Hill and Tidridge, it is symbolized by the “Silver Covenant Chain of Peace,” representing mutual respect and self-rule. This covenant chain protocol, they say, is not simply a colourful relic of the past: it is equally relevant today as an instrument to foster reconciliation. Of this, the historic gathering of Canadian viceregal representatives with Indigenous leaders in 2019 at the Chapel Royal of Massey College, Toronto, was a poignant illustration.

The leader who gave the keynote address at this gathering, National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations, contributes the next chapter. He focuses on the history and intent of the treaties between the Crown and the First Nations. These constitute the “fundamental relationship, the foundation for this country called Canada. And that relationship was built on peaceful coexistence and mutual respect — to mutually share and benefit from these lands.” Bellegarde emphasizes the essential role of the sovereign in the treaty process. While elected politicians come and go, the Crown is always there to symbolize and embody the principles and ideals of Canada’s relationship with the Indigenous Peoples.

That relationship is not just one of governance or even peaceful coexistence, however. For Perry Bellegarde, the treaties are more than negotiated agreements: they are sacred covenants. “Our treaties are covenants with God, Creator, and all of creation.” As Canadians face major challenges such as climate change and biodiversity, the First Nations can contribute the wisdom and experience of their world view to their non-Indigenous partners, developing with them a holistic vision of environmental stewardship. The national chief concludes that as “the direct representatives of the Queen and therefore the holders of a sacred trust on behalf of the Crown,” the viceregal persons “are the caretakers and witnesses to this immutable relationship.”

Appropriately, the third chapter in this part of the book is written by a former viceregal representative. Judith Guichon has spent much of her life close to the land: “I am at the core a farmer and an environmentalist.” Perry Bellegarde’s notion of the treaties as sacred covenants with the natural world therefore strikes a strong chord, and she notes that this view is shared by the Prince of Wales, heir to the throne. During her time as lieutenant governor of British Columbia, Guichon gave high priority to the provincial Crown’s interaction with the First Nations, which, she affirms, needs to be characterized by “respect, relationships, and responsibility.” She concurs with the authors of the preceding essays that the monarchy is key to the treaty relationship.

Indeed, Judith Guichon sees a parallel between monarchy and Indigenous culture: “Monarchs have a role somewhat like hereditary chiefs and elders in the First Nations communities. The monarch in our constitutional monarchy represents sober second thought and wisdom, not the next political cycle but rather enduring truths and the historical evolution of our nation through generations.”

Reviewing and Reinvigorating the Viceregal Offices
The provincial manifestation of the Crown comes to the fore in the opening chapter of part two, “The Evolving Viceregal Offices.” Fortuitously, its author is Andrew Heard, a prominent political scientist from Judith Guichon’s home province, who has written about her use of the reserve power to refuse dissolution of the legislature in British Columbia in 2017. This was in itself an illustration that viceregal powers are by no means obsolete: the lieutenant governors continue to fulfill the role of “guardians of the constitution, who may at times refuse to act on unconstitutional advice from their first ministers and cabinets.”

The path of Canadian lieutenant governors toward the status of full representatives of the monarch, provincial equivalents of the governor general, has been long and circuitous and, in Heard’s view, is still incomplete. At the time of Confederation the lieutenant governors were deemed not to be representatives of the Queen but merely federal officers appointed by and reporting officially to the governor general, but in reality reporting to the prime minister. Now they have come to embody a coordinate provincial Crown. But only to a point: Heard enumerates a number of instances, both symbolic and constitutional, where the lieutenant governors remain subordinate to the governor general. He offers some intriguing suggestions of how these anomalies could be overcome.

Regardless of their nominal status, the lieutenant governors are key figures in their jurisdictions, and not only in constitutional matters. “Viceregal officers are supposed to personify the provincial society and polity as figures who are above politics and who can appeal to all in their community,” says Heard. 3 He calls for a more effective way of selecting lieutenant governors, who must be politically neutral while in office. For better or worse, the appointment is entirely in the hands for the federal prime minister. When Conservative Stephen Harper occupied that position, he established a committee to advise on viceregal appointments. Despite its positive track record, his Liberal successor, Justin Trudeau, scrapped the process. For Andrew Heard, this reversion to political, sometimes overtly partisan, appointments, is regrettable.

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