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Governor General's Flag 1981-
The Governor General of Canada (Fr. Gouverneur général or Gouverneure générale) is the representative in Canada of Queen Elizabeth II, who is Queen of Canada and the country's head of state. (The Prime Minister of Canada is the head of government.) The full title of the office is The Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada.
The Governor General is named by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. It would cause a major constitutional crisis if the monarch did not accept such "advice." By tradition, the post alternates between an English-Canadian and a French-Canadian.
Although state power rests legally with the Governor General--Parliament sits at his or "her pleasure", Royal Assent is necessary for all laws passed by Parliament, and the Governor General is the commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces--real political power rests with the Prime Minister, Parliament, and the provincial governments. As mentioned, should the Governor General of Canada attempt to exercise any of these powers at her own personal descretion, it would likely result in a constitutional upset, and public outrage. The Governor General is expected to be a figurehead, who only performs symbolic formal, ceremonial, and cultural duties.
Current and past Governors General use the style "Right Honourable" (très honorable), like the Prime Minister. However, Governors General in office also use the style "His Excellency" or "Her Excellency". The Governor General's official residence is Rideau Hall; by tradition, he or she also spends several weeks a year at the Citadelle in Quebec City.
The Governor General's job is primary focused around attending state banquets and functions for visiting world leaders, and giving awards and medals at special awards ceremonies. The Governor General is the Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, and therefore the Governor General often wears the red-and-white insignia of the Order at public events. Previously, the Governor General also wore the Windsor uniform, an elaborate black military uniform with silver epaulettes. The uniform symbolized the Governor General's role as Commander in Chief of Canada, but since the 70's has been largely abandoned. The wearing of certain medals indicating high military rank has persisted, however.
The Governor General of Canada is perhaps best known for delivering the [speech from the throne]] at the beginning of each parliamentary session. The speech is written by the Prime Minister and outlines the government's political agenda for the coming session. Unlike the Governors General of many other Commonwealth Realms, the Governor General of Canada does not refer to the Government of Canada as "My government" in speeches.
The Throne of Canada
Throne Chairs for The Queen of Canada, and the Duke of Edinburgh and the Governor General, in the Canadian Senate, Ottawa. (The front chair is used by the Speaker of the Senate)
The Queen also has representatives in each provincial government: Lieutenant Governors (lieutenants gouverneurs) who are appointed by the Governor General on the advice the Prime Minister.
Unlike in some other countries, the title of the Governor General of Canada has no hyphen.