THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA - Few would relish the tight spot Michaelle Jean finds herself in.
Except, perhaps, Michaelle Jean, who in the three years since making history in a number of ways has displayed remarkable poise as Canada's Governor General, and more than a hint of self-confidence.
"I really do believe she has gotten to that comfort zone so that she will feel comfortable
says Robert Finch, chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada.
An indication of her confidence, he says, came when Jean acted to cut short an official tour of eastern Europe and was willing to take questions from a reporter about the political crisis back home.
"Personally, I hate to see a governor general taking a question from a reporter - can you imagine the Queen taking a question from a reporter? But she answered the question very well and it kind of had a soothing effect at a time we needed it."
In the next few days or weeks, Jean faces a number of decisions that will make her among the most consequential governors general in Canadian history, on par with Lord Byng, who in 1926 refused a request by the then-prime minister to dissolve Parliament and instead asked the Opposition leader to form a government.
That question is not yet before her, but it soon could be based on how she rules on the equally critical issue of whether to grant Prime Minister Stephen Harper's request to prorogue Parliament to avoid being defeated in a non-confidence vote. Even if she grants the time out, she could face the bigger Byng-like question in late January.
Jean, 51, has a lot of firsts in her short resume.
When she was appointed by Paul Martin in 2005, she became the first black woman to hold the post, the first born in Haiti, and possibly the most inexperienced. She was also clearly the most controversial.
She and her husband filmmaker, Jean-Daniel Lafond, were accused of supporting Quebec separatism, a charge she denied. As a dual citizen of France, her loyalty to Canada came into question until she renounced her French citizenship before taking office.
But perhaps more troubling to some, given the critical decisions she is facing, is her lack of experience in government.
And some critics, who spoke on condition of anonymity, questioned the expertise of some of the advisers Jean brought with her to Rideau Hall.
"She's inexperienced and it would have been better if she had surrounded herself with people who have a better appreciation of how the monarchy and the governor general should operate, but I detect an improvement of late," said one.
Jean was a successful journalist in Montreal, but has never held any political or appointed office.
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Organizations: Monarchist League of CanadaTop of page