For a great many Canadians the office of Governor General is thought to be little more than a useless and wasteful ceremonial position. The long series of stable governments that Canada has enjoyed has certainly contributed to this belief, much like an expensive insurance policy from which we never make a claim. As a result, Prime Ministers have become somewhat careless in their task of nominating one. Instead of giving it the careful consideration it deserves, PM’s appear to have used it as a means to reward accomplishment and to curry favour from voters by choosing someone with general appeal.
In 2008, this approach proved to be a mistake. In December, a mere two months after a federal election, the Conservative minority government was facing a vote of confidence which would have likely done them in. A proposed coalition between the Liberals and the NDP, with the backing of the Bloc, was in the works. In an attempt to suspend the vote and save his government, Prime Minister Harper asked the Governor General of the time, Michaëlle Jean, to prorogue parliament until January.