The appointment of the Governor General by the Government is generally preceded by a private consultation with the Opposition. However, as the end of Governor General Michaëlle Jean’s five-year term draws closer, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has publicly expressed the party’s view of having her term renewed for another one to two years. CBC News reported that Ignatieff, who was consulted by the Canadian Secretary to the Queen at the request of the Prime Minister for suggestions on a successor to Jean, commended Jean and her work both personally and professionally. "Michaëlle Jean has served her country with distinction and honour," Ignatieff said, citing her involvement after the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti as an example. "She deserves our thanks and our gratitude." He also noted her personal achievements, noting her struggles as a francophone woman, as well as her success in overcoming such obstacles and becoming the first black Canadian to be appointed as Governor General.
According to The Toronto Star, the Prime Minister’s Office offered the following comment: “The Governor-General has done an exceptional job of representing Canada over the past 5 years. The Prime Minister and the Governor-General have an excellent working relationship.” However, The Globe and Mail reports that the Governor-General, who was appointed by former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, has had an uneasy relationship with the Harper government.
This issue has generated much discussion about the politicizing of such a position and crafting it into a public debate, particularly as this move was made by the Opposition. University of Toronto political scientist Peter Russell said it is “wrongheaded” for the Liberals to be promoting a particular candidate for a post that is supposed to be politically neutral and, “Her independence of partisanship is just crucial for the exercise of her office.” However, according to The Toronto Star, Ignatieff said, “I don’t think there are complicated political or constitutional considerations here.” He continued, “Going public with this is just a way of saying Canadians should be consulted and should have a public conversation on what kind of governor-general we want next. Nor are any lines being drawn in the sand.”
Jean’s term is set to end on September 27, and several names have been rumored as potential successors including disabled rights campaigner Rick Hansen; former chief of defence staff John de Chastelain; Inuit leader Mary Simon and Reform Party founder Preston Manning.