Our new governor general and the greasy Airbus affair


David Lloyd Johnston, our soon-to-be governor general of all we survey, is, I’m sure, a fine fellow. Even if he does fit—right up to his blue button-down—every stereotype known to boring, old white guy governors general of the pre-Adrienne Clarkson, pre-Michaelle Jean era.

But hey, I’m a boring old white guy too, and it’s nice to be represented once again in the corridors of ceremonial powerlessness.

Johnston is, of course, a lawyer. Better yet, a legal scholar. A specialist in securities law, something happily impenetrable to the rest of us.

He played hockey at Harvard. Of course Harvard. Better yet, he captained its hockey team. At 69, if you believe his gushing friends, he still possesses the speed and finesse of a young Yvan Cournoyer.

He is a former principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University, one of Canada’s most venerable institutions of higher learning, and now a soon-to-be former president of the University of Waterloo, one of Canada’s most leading edge—can you say particle physics?—groves of academe.

Of course—of course—he is an excellent family man. Married to the same woman forever. The same woman, it should—and will—be said, who is accomplished in her own right, but will not seek her own limelight like… well, no need to mention John Ralston Saul or Jean-Daniel Lafond.

And the kids? Five of them. All girls. All grown. All overachievers. Did we forget the seven grandkids?


Uh… but there is this one nagging footnote to his resumé that’s hard to forget—or forgive.

David Johnston is the person most responsible for the fact we wasted $14 million on a public inquiry to discover what we already knew about Brian Mulroney—that he is a pathological prevaricator of the first order—but not what we actually wanted to know—which is who really got how much of that $20-million in Airbus grease money?

That Prime Minister Stephen Harper chose Johnston—among all the boring old white guy academic overachievers available—to set the sharpened pencil-point-narrow terms of reference for the inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair says much about Stephen Harper’s prescience.

And perhaps too much about David Johnston’s willingness to go along.

Which is why he will make an ideal governor general… for Stephen Harper.

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