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§ 54. “A Governor-General.”

“The governor of a colony constitutes the only political link connecting the colony with the mother country. So far as regards the internal administration of his government, he is merely a constitutional sovereign acting through his advisers; interfering with their policy or their patronage, if at all, only as a friend and impartial councillor. But whenever any question is agitated touching the interests of the mother country—such, for instance, as the imposition of customs duties, or the public defence—his functions as an independent officer are called at once into play. He must see that the mother country receives no detriment. In this duty he cannot count on aid from his advisers: they will consult the interests either of the colony or of their own popularity; he may often have to act in opposition to them, either by interposing his veto on enactments or by referring those enactments for the decision of the home government. But for these purposes the constitution furnishes him with no public officers to assist him in council or execution, or to share his responsibility. The home government looks to him alone.” (Merivale's Lectures on Colonization, 1861, p. 649.)

“Under responsible government a Governor becomes the image, in little, of a constitutional king, introducing measures to the legislature, conducting the executive, distributing patronage, in name only, while all these functions are in reality performed by his councillors. And it is a common supposition that his office is consequently become one of parade and sentiment only. There cannot be a greater error. The functions of a colonial Governor under responsible government are (occasionally) arduous and difficult in the extreme. Even in the domestic politics of the colony, his influence as a mediator between extreme parties and controller of extreme resolutions, as an independent and dispassionate adviser, is far from inconsiderable, however cautiously it may be exercised. But the really onerous part of his duty consists in watching that portion of colonial politics which touches on the connection with the mother country. Here he has to reconcile, as well as he can, his double function as governor responsible to the Crown, and as a constitutional head of an executive controlled by his advisers. He has to watch and control, as best he may, those attempted infringements of the recognized principles of the connection which carelessness or ignorance, or deliberate intention, or mere love of popularity, may from time to time originate. And this duty, of peculiar nicety, he must perform alone … His responsible ministers may (and probably will) entertain views quite different from his own. And the temptation to surround himself with a camarilla of special advisers, distinct from those ministers, is one which a governor must carefully resist. It may, therefore, be readily inferred, that to execute the office well requires no common abilities, and I must add that the occasion has called forth these abilities.” (Id., p. 666.)




  ― 389 ―

“The office of Governor tends to become—in the most emphatic sense of the term—the link which connects the mother country and the colony, and his influence the means by which harmony of action between the local and Imperial authorities is to be preserved. From his independent and impartial position, the opinion of a Governor must needs have great weight in the colonial councils; while he is free to constitute himself, in an especial manner, the patron of those larger and higher interests—as of education, and of moral and material progress in all its branches—which, unlike the contests of party, unite, instead of dividing, the members of the body-politic.” (Lord Elgin [1854], cited Todd's Parl. Gov. in Col., p. 809, 2nd ed.)

“The Governor-General of Canada is the representative of the Queen, and the highest authority in a dominion vast in extent, occupied by several millions of people, comprising within itself various provinces recently brought together which can only knit into a mature and lasting whole by wise and conciliatory administration. Nor is the position insulated. The Governor-General is continually called upon to act on questions affecting international relations with the United States. The person who discharges such exalted functions ought to possess not only sound judgment and wide experience, but also an established public reputation. He should be qualified both to exercise a moderating influence among the different provinces composing the union, and also to bear weight in his relations with the British minister at Washington and with the authorities of the great neighbouring republic.” (Despatch by the Duke of Buckingham, Secretary of State for the Colonies [1868], explaining the reasons of the Imperial Government for advising the Queen to refuse assent to a bill passed by the Dominion Parliament to reduce the salary of the Governor-General. Cited, Todd, p. 810, 2nd ed.)

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