April 4, 1967 (27th Parliament, 1st Session)


Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)


Right Hon. L. B. Pearson (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to announce that Her Majesty the Queen has approved my recommendation that Honourable Roland Michener be appointed as Governor General of Canada.
Mr. Michener needs no commendation to this house. We remember well his distinguished service as our respected and esteemed Speaker from 1957 to 1962. He was born in Lacombe, Alberta, the son of Senator and Mrs. Edward Michener. He graduated from the University of Alberta in 1920 and proceeded as a Rhodes scholar to Oxford University, where he studied law and obtained the B.A. and B.C.L. degrees. He was called to the bar of England in 1923 and to the Ontario bar in 1924.
Mr. Michener's whole life has been one of public service and in many capacities; in the R.A.F. during the first world war; as a member of the Ontario legislature; as secretary of that province; as a member of this house, and its esteemed and respected Speaker, and as high commissioner for Canada to India and ambassador to Nepal. His dedication to and interest in public service are shared by his wife, who will be of great and experienced assistance to her husband in carrying out his new duties.
The government has been deeply aware of the responsibility placed upon it in recommending to the Queen as her personal representative in Canada a successor to the late and beloved General Vanier, whose services to Canada will never be forgotten and whose passing we lament so much.
The position of governor general has been filled with great distinction during the 100 years of our history by 19 outstanding men, each of whom brought to the office some special quality and all of whom served Canada well. The standards that have been set in the past have been magnificently maintained by the last two Canadian governors general.
We will all, I know, be particularly appreciative of the willingness of Mr. and Mrs. Michener to assume such onerous responsibilities on short notice, in the full knowledge that in the next few months they will be faced with an extremely heavy program of duties in relation to our centennial celebrations.
April 4. 1967

I am sure the parliament and people of Canada will join me in extending to the new Governor General warmest wishes for success and happiness in the high office to which he is being called.
Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Leader of
the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, the appointment has not been unexpected. For the past four months it has been very clear from press references that Mr. Michener would be appointed. The appointment will receive widespread approval.
The Prime Minister has referred to the services of successive governors general. At no time in our history has the position of governor general been of more importance than it will in the next few years. Few realize the importance of the office. Many regard it as a sinecure consisting largely of ceremonial duties without constitutional significance. That view, widely held, is not based on experience.
During the time when I was prime minister there were two governors general, Right Hon. Vincent Massey and Right Hon. Georges P. Vanier. During the terms of both in respect for the traditional role of the governor general they were fully consulted as the representative of the Queen has a right to be. He also has the duty to give an opinion to the Prime Minister with regard to those things he believes necessary for Canada.
There are too many who hold the view that the position is obsolete or about to become out of date. Certain press references recently have suggested that Mr. Michener may well be the last governor general of Canada. Believing as I do in the monarchical system of parliamentary government, I see Canada in the second century preserving the form of government we have today.
[DOT] (2:50 p.m.)

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