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Governor General of Canada

CrestCrest of the Governor-General of Canada.svg
IncumbentDavid Lloyd Johnston
Post-nominalsCC, CMM, COM, CD, FRSC(hon)
Incumbentsince1 October 2010
Appointed ByElizabeth II
First GgThe Viscount Monck
Date1 July 1867
ResidenceRideau Hall, Ottawa
La Citadelle, Quebec City

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The Governor General of Canada (French [masculine]: Gouverneur général du Canada, or [feminine]: Gouverneure générale du Canada) is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. As the sovereign is shared equally with 15 other independent countries in a form of personal union, as well as with the ten other jurisdictions of Canada, and resides predominantly in her oldest realm, the United Kingdom, she, on the advice of her Canadian prime minister only, appoints the governor general to carry out most of her constitutional and ceremonial duties for an unfixed period of time-known as serving at Her Majesty's pleasure-though five years is the normal convention. Also traditional is a rotation between anglophone and francophone incumbents. Once in office, the governor general maintains direct contact with the Queen, wherever she may be at the time.

The office has its roots in the 16th and 17th century colonial governors of New France and British North America, and thus is the oldest continuous institution in Canada. The present incarnation of the position emerged with Canadian Confederation and the British North America Act in 1867, which defined the viceregal office as the "Governor General acting by and with the Advice of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada." However, the post still ultimately represented the government of the United Kingdom (that is, the monarch in his British council) until, after continually decreasing involvement by the British government and the passage in 1931 of the Statute of Westminster, the governor general became the direct, personal representative of the uniquely Canadian sovereign (the monarch in his Canadian council). During that process of gradual independence, the governor general took on an ever expanding role: in 1904, the Militia Act granted permission for the governor general to use the title of Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian militia, in the name of the sovereign and actual Commander-in-Chief, and in 1927 the first official international visit by a governor general was made. In 1947, King George VI issued letters patent allowing the viceroy to carry out almost all of the monarch's powers in his or her stead. Per the Constitution Act, 1982, any constitutional amendment that affects the Crown, including the Office of the Governor General, requires the unanimous consent of each provincial legislature as well as the federal parliament.

The current governor general is David Lloyd Johnston, who has served since 1 October 2010; Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper recommended him to succeed Michaëlle Jean. Johnston's wife-who is thus the viceregal consort-is Sharon Johnston.

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