Wednesday, February 25, 2009

G-G zips up

After President Obama's visit to Ottawa and the photos of his all-smiles meeting with Governor General Michaelle Jean, an aide to the governor general suggested Ms Jean had been invited to Washington to confer with Obama about Haiti.

Now all is silence from Rideau Hall.

Probably a good thing. But the potential to infuriate the prime minister and his office (Mr Harper hasn't mentioned his invitation to the White House) is only part of it.

Michaelle Jean is an appointed head of state. She has a very limited and specific range of powers, all of them based on taking advice either from the prime minister or from parliament. Yes, it is frustrating that someone as charismatic, popular, and connected may be limited in the ways she can work to improve life in Haiti. But it seems hardly possible that the Governor General could negotiate foreign policy initiatives with foreign leaders without breaching her constitutional obligations to act only on the advice of the people's elected representatives.

It's not surprising if President Obama thought, wow, here's someone who could really help on the Haitian mess. But if any invitation to become involved were offered, the governor general would have to stop being governor general to accept it.

(Photo: Google Images)
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