So what if the Governor General were a separatist?

A good thing that might have been

It seems that Governor-General-designate Michaëlle Jean is not a raving Québec separatist after all. But if she were, so much the better. For, rather than illustrating a lapse in judgement by the forces of federalism, it would be a triumph of pluralism.

The Governor General is most visibly responsible for presenting a positive image of Canada to Canadians and the rest of the world. To accept such a position is to acknowledge and endorse the value of federalism. Viewed negatively, there would have to be some industrial-strength doublethink involved for a Québec nationalist to accept the job. But under a more constructive interpretation, it would symbolize the strength of a whole country united by the vibrancy of its parts.

Obviously, the exclusionary attitudes of a Québec-for-the-pur-laine-only separatist, or the actions of a full-on, bomb-flinging felquiste, are unbecoming of anyone. But imagine a reformed revolutionary accepted as de facto head of state; a national inclusiveness powerful enough to co-opt regional pride. It would be, if anyone were looking, an example to the world.

But such a situation hasn't yet come to pass. Mme Jean and her husband are not, we are told, separatists: they are, rather, enthusiastic admirers of Québec and its people. Clearly, this means that they have much in common with the Québecois nationalists — and also with any honestly patriotic Canadian federalist.