Next week or sometime shortly thereafter, Stephen Harper will replace Michaëlle Jean as Governor General with somebody else. If I had to guess, this somebody else will among other things not be a Haitian immigrant or a woman or somebody who makes a point of denigrating any aspect of Tory policies held dear by the base in Red Deer. If I were say, Naomi Klein, I wouldn't be waiting by the phone. The names bandied about to date _ at least in The Globe _ are John de Chastelaine, David Crombie, Hugh Segal, Willie Littlechild, David Johnston, Peter Milliken and Rick Hansen. The most intriguing name on The Globe's list (in itself a likely disqualification) is John Fraser.
Fraser is a former editor of Saturday Night magazine and Master of Massey College at the University of Toronto. Where the others all have a faint whiff of dull normal (Crombie and Segal both have discernable senses of humour but at the end of the day are essentially company men), Fraser is practically a Dadaist. He writes a mean column (in both senses). Politically, he's almost impossible to pigeon hole. He enjoys satire (he's one of the few officially sanctioned sorts who will admit to missing Frank magazine). And last but far from least, he is close to and understands the weird mix of colonial insecurity, relentless ambition and hubris that led Conrad Lord Black of Crossharbour from Britain's upper chamber to FCI Coleman (inmate # 18330-424). And if you think that Tubby's rise and fall isn't the quintessentially Canadian story, brother, you ought to turn over your passport and seek citizenship elsewhere.
As GG, Fraser would reflect this country's essential weirdness back to itself in a sophisticated, satiric manner and he'd have a jolly time doing it. Yes, he'd puff himself up and wear the ridiculous outfits and kowtow to the queen, but he'd do it all with a certain wit and flinty glint in the eye decidedly lacking in our last two Vice Regals. Wouldn't it be great to have a GG who could tell a funny story, keep his speeches short and to the point, and take the piss out of his subjects and himself at the same time? Clearly too much to wish for.