The process of drawing up a shortlist of candidates to be the next governor general is beginning to wrap up, and that list should be ready to share with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau within weeks, says Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.
In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, LeBlanc said the advisory panel he co-chairs is nearing the end of the process and will soon submit a list of “more than one and less than 10.”
“We’re sort of wrapping up. We have arrived at a much shorter list than when we started our conversations as a group. We’re at the stage now where all of the necessary vetting is being done,” said LeBlanc.
“We’re hoping that the prime minister will be given a list, as I say, in the next few weeks, and that we can then proceed to choose the next governor general. It’s not something that’s going to drag on for months and months at all.”
He added the vetting process is “robust and comprehensive.”
The advisory panel is under close scrutiny as its members select a list of candidates to recommend for the vice-regal role, which was embroiled in scandal earlier this year when the former occupant of the role resigned following a “scathing” independent review into allegations of a “toxic” workplace.
Julie Payette resigned in January 2021 but kept the annuity allocated to her under the law, which will see her receive more than $140,000 each year from taxpayers for the rest of her life.
Richard Wagner, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, has been acting as administrator and fulfilling the duties of the vice-regal office until a new governor general is appointed.
Payette was picked by Trudeau in 2017 without the use of the advisory panel created by the former Conservative government to choose Payette’s predecessor, David Johnston. But reports quickly began emerging that she was not adjusting to the new role, which were later followed by allegations that she had created a toxic work environment for staff at Rideau Hall.
CBC News reported last year that Payette had been the subject of workplace complaints in previous positions, and Trudeau quickly faced questions about whether there were holes in the vetting process.
He announced this spring he would return to using an advisory panel to select the new governor general, a committee led by LeBlanc and Clerk of the Privy Council Janice Charette.
Members include Daniel Jutras, rector of the Université de Montréal; Judith LaRocque, former secretary to the governor general and chair of the board of trustees of the Canadian Museum of Nature; Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and Suromitra Sanatani, interim chair of the board of directors of Canada Post.
LeBlanc said the timeline has nothing to do with speculation that a federal election is in the works.
“It’s not the election speculation that would drive this,” he said, noting Wagner’s work as administrator is only until a new governor general can be named.
“It’s not a situation that should continue for many more months.”