PM to receive governor general shortlist within 'next few days': LeBlanc

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will receive a shortlist of potential governor general candidates within the “next few days.”

Appearing before the Procedure and House Affairs Committee on Thursday, LeBlanc said he had hoped the work of narrowing down recommendations of Canadians to replace former governor general Julie Payette would be done sooner.

“I, in my enthusiasm, got ahead of myself in hoping that the process that I was apart of, the advisory committee the prime minister established to look at recommending a shortlist of outstanding Canadians to replace Madame Payette, I had hoped that process would have concluded earlier,” he said.

“The good news, from our perspective, is we have finished our work, the prime minister will have our recommendations in the next few days.”

He said the advisory panel hosted 12 meetings and have arrived at an “interesting” list.

Payette resigned from her post in January following an independent review into workplace harassment allegations at Rideau Hall.

“Everyone has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, at all times and under all circumstances. It appears this was not always the case at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General,” Payette said in a statement on Jan.21.

LeBlanc co-chaired the panel alongside Janice Charette, a former high commissioner to the United Kingdom now filling in as clerk of the Privy Council while regular clerk Ian Shugart undergoes treatment for cancer.

Other members include: Inuit leader Natan Obed, Universite de Montreal rector Daniel Jutras, former secretary to the governor general Judith LaRocque, and interim Canada Post chair Suromitra Sanatani.

Currently, Chief Justice of Canada Richard Wagner is fulfilling the duties of the role as administrator, until Trudeau recommends a new governor general to the Queen.

Experts have urged a speedy candidate review process, warning that having a chief justice in the role for too long may be problematic.

This sentiment was echoed by members of the committee on Thursday who said that as the Liberals are in a precarious minority government situation and there are hints of a fall election, it would be “unfortunate” to drag Wagner into “political games.”

LeBlanc said he is well aware the current situation is not ideal long term.

“I do recognize that it’s an unusual moment to have the chief justice serving as the administrator, so hopefully his volunteer effort to help the country in that capacity will come to an end soon,” said LeBlanc.

The committee is studying Bill C-19, proposed legislation that, if passed, the government says would help make a pandemic election more feasible.

Among other provisions, it would establish a three-day polling period to spread out voters and uphold public health guidelines like physical distancing. It would also seek to make the voting process more accessible for long-term care residents and enhance the mail-in ballot system.

However, in a statement to CTVNews.ca, Elections Canada indicated it has been able to set up safety measures without the bill. The federal agency said it has been preparing for several months for a pandemic election, talking to health authorities about what’s required, and doing what it can under the current law.

With a file from The Canadian Press & CTV News' Rachel Aiello. 

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