The head of Her Majesty's Canadian government reminds the Governor General of who really is the boss:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a clear message to Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean that she should not call herself Canada's head of state.
"Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Canada and Head of State," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement issued to Canwest News Service on Thursday. "The Governor General represents the Crown in Canada."
The extraordinary reminder from the country's head of government to its top viceregal representative follows an uproar over Jean's use of the phrase "head of state" when referring to herself during a speech in Paris on Monday.
Twice during the Governor General's address at an executive meeting of UNESCO — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — she called herself Canada's head of state.
I was rather surprised by the comment myself, the current Canadian GG has generally done a good job. A more correct description is that the Governor General carries out most of the tasks of the Head of State, without actually being Head of State.
The link to A Crown of Maples can be found here.
A Rideau Hall spokesperson had stated Wednesday that Jean's reference to being head of state was justified: "As the representative of the Crown in Canada, the Governor General carries out the duties of head of state, and therefore is de facto head of state."
Rideau Hall had also said the "head of state" reference was acceptable because of a 1947 agreement in which the "letters patent of King George VI" — Queen Elizabeth's father — "transferred all the duties of head of state of Canada to the Governor General."
But the assertion that the Governor General can be correctly described as Canada's head of state directly contradicts some of the federal government's own published references to the position.
In A Crown of Maples, an online guide to Canada's constitutional monarchy published by the Department of Canadian Heritage, a section titled "The Queen as head of state: Personifying the Country" states: "As Queen of Canada, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is our head of state and a powerful symbol of Canada and Canadian sovereignty."