National Post

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Thursday, September 09, 1999

She's the governor-general. And you're not
Scott Feschuk
National Post

OTTAWA - Announcer: Welcome to another edition of Adrienne Clarkson Presents on CBC Television. Tonight, Adrienne Clarkson Presents Canada's new governor-general, Adrienne Clarkson.

Adrienne Clarkson: Good evening. This country's new governor-general is a woman who came to this country as a refugee from Hong Kong. She was only three at the time, so she probably didn't have much say in the matter, but it's still a very nice story. Welcome to the show, Ms. Clarkson.

AC: Good evening.

AC: You're in a bit of hot water for saying that the governor-general is the head of state in Canada, when, it appears, someone else has already got that job.

AC: Yes, well, one mustn't forget the Queen. What I meant to say is that I am Her Majesty's representative in Canada. But, you know, seeing as she only comes here every couple of years to shuffle around the Arctic, I'm basically where the loonie stops, as it were. If you've got a queenly problem, you come to me.

AC: Tell us about your qualifications for being viceregal.

AC: I don't like that expression, frankly -- viceregal. It makes the whole thing sound so half-assed. I'm going to have to have someone look into that.

AC: Yes, do. Your qualifications?

AC: Well, where do I start? I'm extremely well-educated, I fluently speak both official languages and I'm already quite accustomed to being referred to as Your Excellency. So, you know, when somebody says it, I'm going to instinctively turn and look right down at them.

AC: Pardon me?

AC: Well, I assume I'll be on some form of pedestal or platform most of the time.

AC: Tell me how you feel about the perks of the office. You have a chauffeur now.

AC: Yes, well, I do try not to think of John as my ''chauffeur.'' I mean, we're married and as husband and wife we're equals. Or at least we were until today.

AC: No, you misunderstand. The governor-general position brings with it several bodyguards, a large staff, the use of government jets -- and a chauffeur.

AC: Well, John will be thrilled. He so likes to have someone sitting in the front seat with him. He insists the way we drive around now is ''awkward.''

AC: The pundits say that although you are not seen by the public as a political partisan, you and your husband are nevertheless regulars on the Liberal party's cocktail circuit -- and that this is therefore a subtle act of patronage. Are they just being mean?

AC: Listen, if you're going to disqualify all the people who routinely associate with the power brokers in the governing party, all you're going to be left with is a bunch of worldly, distinguished and qualified people who currently have no damn hope of getting the job.

AC: Hmm.

AC: Indeed.

AC: You're rather renowned for being outspoken on issues of national importance, such as free trade and the selling of our water and the staggering price of chanterelles in Rosedale. Now, you say you're going to continue to speak out as governor-general, but that you'll do so in a non-partisan manner. What exactly does that mean?

AC: I'll refer to those right-wing bastards as those right-wing buggers.

AC: Admirable restraint. Much has changed in matters of royal protocol in recent times. Nowadays, a woman such as yourself is not obliged to curtsy on meeting the Queen. Your thoughts?

AC: I'm certainly willing to consider making that reciprocal, but I offer no promises.

AC: I'm sure the dear would appreciate that, what with her advancing age. Speaking of the Queen, what can you tell us about what she said to you during your telephone conversation?

AC: Oh, bother. I knew I forgot to call back someone.

Interview of Adrienne Clarkson

Copyright Southam Inc.