Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon's unelected power should raise questions about dumping the monarchy
Today, British Columbians, including 87 democratically elected MLAs, will eagerly wait for word on the future of their government from a person who's never been elected to any public office.
Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon is the queen's representative in B.C. She was appointed by Governor-General David Johnston, on the advice of former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper's cabinet. No doubt, this decision was endorsed by the B.C. Liberal cabinet.
Guichon is the legal head of state in British Columbia. She's one of only two public officials who gets a mansion paid for by provincial taxpayers. (UBC president Santa Ono's mansion is technically covered by the university, but it's financed heavily by the province.)
Guichon is a former cattle rancher, former head of the B.C. Cattlemen's Association, former B.C. Liberal party donor, former director for the Fraser Basin Council of B.C., and former director of the Grasslands Conservation Council of B.C.
And when the B.C. Liberal government falls in a confidence vote later today, Guichon has sole power to determine if NDP Leader John Horgan will be allowed to become premier of a minority government. Guichon could order the dissolution of the legislature and call an election.
This is extraordinary power for an unelected official.
Yesterday, Premier Christy Clark told reporters that if asked, she will tell the lieutenant-governor that she doesn't believe the legislature is workable with 43 B.C. Liberal members, 41 New Democrats, and three Greens. Clark more or less stated that she thinks B.C. needs another election.
Here's what the B.C. government website states about Guichon's office: "In practice, the Lieutenant Governor usually acts on the advice of the Premier, although there are occasions when the Lieutenant Governor may refuse to act on this advice."
The whole situation is a farce and reflects Canadians' overall subservience to an unelected foreign monarchy. It's more suited to the 19th century than 2017.
It's worth noting that Clark assiduously promoted the monarchy when next-gen royals Will and Kate visited B.C. last year for the first time together.
If Guichon orders an election when the NDP is ready to govern, let's hope it kick-starts a national conversation on whether Canada really needs the monarchy anymore.
Should British Columbians have an elected head of state? Should Canada?
Do we need to be beholden to a representative of the Windsor family at critical junctures in our provincial democracy? Do we really want to spend the next 150 years in this situation? Or has the time come to finally cut the shackles of colonialism?
The timing of a national debate on the monarchy couldn't be better as the country prepares to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation.