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A meeting of Canada's Lieutenant Governors in September 1925; standing, from left to right: Henry William Newlands, Walter Cameron Nichol, Frank Richard Heartz, James Albert Manning Aikins; seated, left to right: James Robson Douglas, Narcisse Pérodeau, Henry Cockshutt, William Frederick Todd.

In Canada, a Lieutenant Governor (pronounced /lɛfˈtɛnənt/, French [masculine]: lieutenant-gouverneur, or [feminine]: lieutenant-gouverneure) is the viceregal representative in a provincial jurisdiction of the Canadian monarch and head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, who resides predominantly in her oldest realm, the United Kingdom. On the advice of his or her Prime Minister, the Governor General of Canada appoints the Lieutenant Governors to carry out most of the monarch's constitutional and ceremonial duties for an unfixed period of time[1] – known as serving at Her Excellency's pleasure – though five years is the normal convention. Similar positions in Canada's three territories are termed Commissioners, and are representatives of the federal government, however, not the monarch directly.

The offices have their roots in the 16th and 17th century colonial governors of New France and British North America, though the present incarnations of the positions emerged with Canadian Confederation and the British North America Act in 1867, which defined the viceregal offices as the "Lieutenant Governor of the Province acting by and with the Advice the Executive Council thereof."[2] However, the posts still ultimately represented the government of Canada (that is, the Governor-General-in-Council) until the ruling in 1882 of The Lord Watson of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the case of Maritime Bank v. Receiver-General of New Brunswick,[3] whereafter the Lieutenant Governors were recognized as the direct representatives of the monarch.[4][5][6] Per the Constitution Act, 1982, any constitutional amendment that affects the Crown, including the Offices of the Lieutenant Governors, requires the unanimous consent of each provincial legislature as well as the federal parliament.



In the Canadian context, there are numerous, and not mutually agreeable, notions regarding hyphenation and capitalization of the position title. Various acts in the Canadian constitution and numerous provincial websites typically indicate Lieutenant Governor of [Province] (upper case and no hyphen), likely due to the primacy of those positions in their respective jurisdictions. However, The Canadian Style indicates Lieutenant-Governor (upper case with hyphen),[7] though lieutenant-governors (lower case and hyphenated) when pluralized.[8] The Guide to Canadian English Usage equivocates somewhat, indicating upper case only when used in and associated with a specific provincial Lieutenant Governor or name, not generally (e.g., Lieutenant-Governor Lincoln Alexander), and varied use.[9] In French, the term is always hyphenated. Also, as governor is the main noun in the title, it is the word that is pluralized; thus, it is lieutenant governors, rather than lieutenants governor.


George Stanley (left), designer of the Canadian national flag and Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick from 1981 to 1987, with his wife, Ruth.

The Lieutenant Governors are appointed by the Governor General of Canada on the advice of his or her Prime Minister, usually in consultation with the relevant Premier,[10][11] and the Governor General gives the viceroyal sign-manual and affixes the Great Seal of Canada to the commission.[12] Besides the administration of the oaths of office, there is no set formula for the swearing-in of a Lieutenant Governor-designate. Though there may therefore be variations to the following, the appointee will generally travel to the legislative assembly building in the provincial capital, where a guard of honour awaits to give a general salute. From there, the party is led by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to the legislative chamber, wherein all Justices of the province's Superior Court, Members of the Legislative Assembly, and other guests are assembled. The Governor General's commission for the Lieutenant Governor-designate is then read aloud, and the required oaths are administered to the appointee by either the Governor General or a delegate thereof; the three oaths are: the Oath of Allegiance, the Oath of Office as Lieutenant Governor, and the oath as keeper of the province's Great Seal.[13] With the affixing of their signature to these three solemn promises, the individual is officially the Lieutenant Governor, and at that moment the Viceregal Salute is played and a 15-gun salute is conducted outside.[14] The Lieutenant Governor then receives the insignia of the province's order or orders.

Though incumbents are constitutionally mandated to serve for at least five years, unless the federal parliament agrees to remove the individual from office,[15] the Lieutenant Governors still technically act at the Governor General's pleasure,[16] meaning the Prime Minister may recommend to the Governor General that the viceroy remain in the Crown's service for a longer period of time, sometimes upwards of more than ten years.[n 1] A Lieutenant Governor may also resign,[n 2] and some have died in office.[n 3] In such a circumstance, the Governor General can appoint an Administrator to exercise the functions of the Lieutenant Governor until a suitable replacement is found;[17] in some provinces, the associated Chief Justice has a standing appointment as the provincial Administrator.[18][19][20]



Unlike the federal viceroy, the Canadian Lieutenant Governors have been since 1867, if not Canadian-born, at least long-time residents of Canada, and not of the Peerage, though a number, up until the Nickle Resolution in 1919, were knighted. Although required by the tenets of constitutional monarchy to be nonpartisan while in office, Lieutenant Governors were frequently former politicians, and some returned to politics following their viceregal service. Canadian lieutenant governorships have also been used to promote women and minorities into a prominent position:[21] The first female viceroy in Canada was Pauline Mills McGibbon, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1974 to 1980, and many have since served in both that province and others; currently two of the ten Lieutenant Governors are women (Mayann E. Francis and Barbara Oliver Hagerman). There have been two Black (Lincoln Alexander and Mayann E. Francis) and several Aboriginal Lieutenant Governors, and the current Lieutenant Governor of Alberta is Chinese-Canadian, as was David Lam, the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia from 1988 to 1995. Former Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Lise Thibault used a wheelchair, while David Onley, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, had polio as a child and uses crutches or a scooter.


Further information: Monarchy in the Canadian provinces > Federal and provincial aspects and Canadian federalism

As the Canadian monarch is shared equally amongst the ten provinces of Canada, as well as the federal realm, and the sovereign lives predominantly outside Canada's borders, the Lieutenant Governors' primary task is to perform the sovereign's constitutional duties on his or her behalf, acting within the principles of parliamentary democracy and responsible government as a guarantor of continuous and stable governance,[22] and as a nonpartisan safeguard against the abuse of power.[23] For the most part, however, the powers of the Crown are exercised on a day-to-day basis by elected and appointed individuals, leaving the Lieutenant Govenrors to perform the various ceremonial duties the sovereign otherwise carries out when in the country; at such a moment, a Lieutenant Governor will decrease his or her public appearances, though the presence of the monarch does not undermine any Lieutenant Governor's ability to perform governmental roles.[24]

Constitutional role

Though the monarch retains all executive, legislative, and judicial power in and over Canada,[25][26] the Lieutenant Governors are permitted to exercise most of this, including the Royal Prerogative, in the sovereign's name, as laid out in various acts in the constitution, though most revolve around the original clauses in section V of the Constitution Act, 1867.[27] While they continue to be appointed by the Governor General, the Lieutenant Governors are considered to be direct representatives of the sovereign. In a province, it is thus the Lieutenant Governor who is required to appoint persons to the Executive Council (or Cabinet),[28] and convention dictates that the Lieutenant Governor must further draw from them an individual to act as Premier – in almost all cases the Member of the Legislative Assembly who commands the confidence of the legislature. This group of Ministers of the Crown is theoretically tasked with tendering to the viceroy guidance on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, an arrangement called the Queen-in-Council,[26] or, more specifically, the Governor-in-Council, in which capacity the Lieutenant Governor will issue Royal Proclamations and sign Orders-in-Council. The Governor-in-Council of both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are also specifically tasked to appoint in the Queen's name the judges of the Courts of Probate.[29] The advice given by the Cabinet is, in order to ensure the stability of government, typically binding; the viceroy, however, may in exceptional circumstances invoke the reserve powers, which remain the Crown's final check against a ministry's abuse of power.[n 4][30][31] [32][33][34][35]

The Lieutenant Governor alone is also constitutionally mandated to summon parliament.[36] Beyond that, the viceroy carries out the other conventional parliamentary duties in the sovereign's stead, including reading the Speech From the Throne, and proroguing and dissolving parliament. The Lieutenant Governor also grants Royal Assent in the Queen's name; legally, he or she has three options: grant Royal Assent (making the bill law), withhold Royal Assent (vetoing the bill), or reserve the bill for the signification of the Governor General's pleasure,[37] a clause last invoked in 1961.[n 5][40] If the Governor General withholds the Queen's assent, the sovereign may within two years disallow the bill, thereby annulling the law in question.

Ceremonial role

Further information: Monarchy in the Canadian provinces > Cultural role

With most constitutional functions lent to Cabinet, a Lieutenant Governor acts in a primarily ceremonial fashion, carrying out some of the ritual duties normally associated with heads of state, and thus symbolizing the sovereignty of the provinces within Confederation.[41] The provincial viceroys have been said to be, outside of Quebec, "a focus of community ideals and a reinforcement of provincial identity."[42]

He or she will host members of Canada's royal family, as well as foreign royalty and heads of state, and is also tasked with fostering national unity and pride. One way in which this is carried out is travelling the province and meeting with residents from all regions and ethnic groups, some of whom a Lieutenant Governor will induct into the province's orders and present to others medals and decorations. This travel takes place only within a Lieutenant Governor's province, the viceroys rarely performing state duties anywhere else in Canada, and never internationally; it has been argued that the provincial representatives of the Queen should start to undertake international trips in an official capacity, representing their province abroad.[11] In the exercise of these duties, the Lieutenant Governors may sometimes receive advice from the Department of Canadian Heritage Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols Promotion Program.[43] During a provincial election, a Lieutenant Governor will curtail these public duties, so as not to appear as though they are involving themselves in political affairs.

Symbols and protocol

As the personal representative of the monarch, a Lieutenant Governor follows only the sovereign in the province's order of precedence, preceding even other members of the Royal Family. Though the federal viceroy is considered Primus inter pares amongst his or her provincial counterparts, the Governor General also takes a lower rank to the Lieutenant Governors in the provincial spheres; at federal functions, however, the Governor General, as the Queen's representative in the country, precedes the Lieutenant Governors.[44] An incumbent Lieutenant Governor is also entitled to the use the style His or Her Honour,[45][46] and is granted the additional honorific of The Honourable for their time in office and for life afterwards.[45][46]

Per the orders' constitutions, the Lieutenant Governors, except for that of Quebec, serve as the Chancellor of their province's order. They also upon installation automatically become a Knight or Dame of Justice and a Vice-Prior in Canada of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem.[47] All of these honours are retained following an incumbent's departure from office, with the individual remaining in the highest category of the order, and they may also be further distinguished with induction into other orders or the receipt of other awards.

The Viceregal Salute – composed of the first six bars of the Royal Anthem ("God Save the Queen") followed by the first and last four bars of the national anthem ("O Canada") – is the salute used to greet a Lieutenant Governor upon arrival at, and mark his or her departure from most official events.[48] To mark a viceroy's presence at any building, ship, airplane, or car in Canada, the relevant Lieutenant Governor's flag is employed. Excepting those of Quebec and Nova Scotia, the present form of most provincial viceroyal flags was adopted in 1980,[44] and consists of a blue field bearing the shield of the province's coat of arms surrounded by ten gold maple leaves – each symbolizing one province – surmounted by a St. Edward's Crown. In a provincial jurisdiction, the Lieutenant Governor's flag takes precedence over all other flags, save the Queen's personal Canadian standard,[49] and is also, along with all flags on Canadian Forces property, flown at half-mast upon the death of an incumbent or former Lieutenant Governor.[50]


The position of lieutenant governor has existed in Canada since before the country's confederation. In 1786, the post of Governor-in-Chief of British North America was created as a central viceregal office overseeing the British colonies of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Quebec, whose Governors then became Lieutenant Governors, though that of Quebec was occupied simultaneously by the Governor-in-Chief. This structure remained in place until the partitioning in 1791 of the Province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada, which then each had an office of Lieutenant Governor, though both posts were occupied by the incumbent Governor General of the Province of Canada.

In 1867, Confederation created a new entity of four provinces, each with their respective viceregal posts; as per the British North America Act passed that year, the stations of Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick continued essentially as before,[51] while those of Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Lieutenant Governor of Quebec were created to replace the viceregal offices of Canada East and Canada West.[28] Thereafter, when other colonies joined this grouping of provinces, their Governors became Lieutenant Governors,[n 6] while the creation of new provinces out of Rupert's Land and the Northwest Territories – which each had their own Lieutenant Governors[55] – led to the establishment of new viceregal posts.[n 7]

Beginning immediately after Confederation, the Dominion government and the Foreign Office in London considered the Lieutenant Governors as representatives of, and subordinate to, the Governor General in Ottawa, reflecting the view of John A. Macdonald and The Earl of Derby, who set up the Constitution Act, 1867, so as to have the Lieutenant Governors appointed by the Governor General, and who expected that Royal Assent would be given in the name of the Governor General, rather than the Queen.[59] A ruling by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 1882, however, altered this view,[60] establishing that the Lieutenant Governors represented the Queen in the provinces as much as the Governor General did in the federal jurisdiction.[61][62]

See also


  1. ^ Robert Brett acted as Lieutenant Governor of Alberta between 1915 and 1925, and Lise Thibault served as Lieutenant Governor of Quebec from 1997 to 2007.
  2. ^ Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Jean-Louis Roux resigned the viceregal post in 1997 due to controversy.
  3. ^ For example, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Lois Hole died of cancer on 6 January 2005, and Lieutenant Governors of Nova Scotia Frank Stanfield and David MacKeen died on 25 September 1931 and 13 November 1916, respectively. Further, Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Paul Comtois died in the fire that destroyed [[Government House (Quebec) |the province's viceregal residence]] on 21 February 1966.
  4. ^ See Note 1 at Queen's Privy Council for Canada.
  5. ^ Lieutenant Governor of Alberta John C. Bowen in 1937 refused to grant Royal Assent to three bills passed by William Aberhart's Social Credit government on the grounds that they were unconstitutional,[38] and Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Frank Lindsay Bastedo in 1961 reserved Royal Assent to the Mineral Contracts Alteration Act, passing it on, instead, to the Governor General for consideration.[39]
  6. ^ The Governor of the United Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia became in 1871, through an Order-in-Council by Queen Victoria, the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia;[52] the Governors of Prince Edward Island became in 1873, by Order-in-Council of the Queen, the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island;[53] and the Commission Governor of Newfoundland became in 1949, through the Newfoundland Act, the Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland.[54]
  7. ^ The office of the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba was created in 1870 by the Manitoba Act,[56] the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta was created in 1905 by the Alberta Act,[57] and the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan was created in 1905 by the Saskatchewan Act.[58]


  1. ^ Victoria (29 March 1867), Constitution Act, 1867, V.58, Westminster: Queen's Printer,, retrieved 15 January 2009  
  2. ^ Victoria 1867, V.66
  3. ^ Saywell, John T. (1957). The Office of Lieutenant Governor: A Study in Canadian Government and Politics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 13–14.  
  4. ^ Kenney, Jason (23 April 2007). Talking Points for The Honourable Jason Kenney. Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 14 May 2009.  
  5. ^ Smith, David E. (1995). The Invisible Crown. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 8. ISBN 0802077935.  
  6. ^ Watson, William (1892), Maritime Bank v. Receiver-General of New Brunswick, written at London, in Jackson, Michael, "Golden Jubilee and Provincial Crown", Canadian Monarchist News (Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada) 7 (3): 6, 2003,, retrieved 11 June 2009  
  7. ^ Public Works and Government Services Canada (1997). The Canadian Style. Hamilton: Dundern Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-1550022766.  
  8. ^ Public Works and Government Services Canada 1997, p. 70
  9. ^ Fee, Margery; McAlpine, Janice (3 April 2007). Guide to Canadian English Usage. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 244. ISBN 978-0195426021.  
  10. ^ McCullough, John (23 April 2004). Interview with Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo. J.J. McCullough. Retrieved 12 June 2009.  
  11. ^ a b Jackson, Michael D. (2009). "The Senior Realms of the Queen". Canadian Monarchist News (Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada) Autumn 2009 (30): 9. Retrieved 17 January 2010.  
  12. ^ Victoria 1867, V.58
  13. ^ Victoria 1867, V.61
  14. ^ Munro, Kenneth (2005). The Maple Crown in Alberta: The Office of Lieutenant Governor. Victoria: Trafford Publishing. p. iii. ISBN 1-4120-5317-X.  
  15. ^ Victoria 1867, V.59
  16. ^ Part I, , Canada Gazette Extra 139 (8): 1, 27 September 2005,, retrieved 2 June 2009  
  17. ^ Victoria 1867, V.67
  18. ^ Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. "Protocol and Ceremony > Administrator". Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 17 June 2009.  
  19. ^ Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec. "Roles and Functions > Administrator of the Government". Éditeur officiel du Québec. Retrieved 19 June 2009.  
  20. ^ Legislative Assembly of Alberta. "Public Information > Lieutenant Governors > The Office of Lieutenant Governor". Queen's Printer for Alberta. Retrieved 23 June 2009.  
  21. ^ MacLeod 2008, p. 38
  22. ^ Roberts, Edward (2009). "Ensuring Constitutional Wisdom During Unconventional Times". Canadian Parliamentary Review (Ottawa: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association) 23 (1): 15. Retrieved 21 May 2009.  
  23. ^ MacLeod, Kevin S. (2008), A Crown of Maples (1 ed.), Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, pp. 16, 20, ISBN 978-0-662-46012-1,  
  24. ^ Department of National Defence (1 April 1999), The Honours, Flags and Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, p. 1A-3, A-AD-200-000/AG-000,, retrieved 23 May 2009  
  25. ^ Victoria 1867, III.9, IV.17
  26. ^ a b MacLeod 2008, p. 17
  27. ^ Victoria 1867, V
  28. ^ a b Victoria 1867, V.63
  29. ^ Victoria 1867, VII.96
  30. ^ McWhinney, Edward (2005). The Governor General and the Prime Ministers. Vancouver: Ronsdale Press. pp. 16–17. ISBN 1-55380-031-1.  
  31. ^ Cox, Noel (September 2002). "Black v Chrétien: Suing a Minister of the Crown for Abuse of Power, Misfeasance in Public Office and Negligence". Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law (Perth: Murdoch University) 9 (3): 12. Retrieved 17 May 2009.  
  32. ^ Dawson, R. MacGregor; Dawson, W.F. (1989). Democratic Government in Canada (5 ed.). Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press. pp. 68–69. ISBN 8-0820-6703-4.  
  33. ^ Forsey, Eugene (2005). How Canadians Govern Themselves (6 ed.). Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada. pp. 4, 34. ISBN 0-662-39689-8. Retrieved 14 May 2009.  
  34. ^ Library and Archives Canada. "Politics and Government > By Executive Decree > The Governor General". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 18 May 2009.  
  35. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Governor General of Canada: Role and Responsibilities of the Governor General". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 18 May 2009.  
  36. ^ Victoria 1867, V.1.82
  37. ^ Victoria 1867, IV.55
  38. ^ Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. "The Citizen's Guide to the Alberta Legislature". Queen's Printer for Alberta. Retrieved 29 July 2007.  
  39. ^ Jackson, Michael (2006). "Bastedo, Frank Lindsay (1886–1973)". The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. University of Regina. Retrieved 18 May 2009.  
  40. ^ Diefenbaker, John G. (1976). One Canada: The Years of Achievement, 1957-1962. II. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada. pp. 56. ISBN 978-0333235164.  
  41. ^ Department of Canadian Heritage (2008), Canada: Symbols of Canada, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, p. 4,  
  42. ^ Boyce, Peter (2008). The Queen's Other Realms: The Crown and its Legacy in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Sydney: Federation Press. p. 100. ISBN 9-781-86287-700-9.  
  43. ^ Department of Canadian Heritage (31 March 1998). "Performance Report". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 14 August 2006.  
  44. ^ a b Department of Canadian Heritage. "Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols Promotion > Across Canada > Standards". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 19 June 2009.  
  45. ^ a b Department of National Denfence 1999, p. 11-2
  46. ^ a b MacLeod 2008, p. 37
  47. ^ "Canada Wide > About Us > The Order of St. John > The Order of St. John in Canada". St. John Ambulance Canada. Retrieved 2 June 2009.  
  48. ^ Department of Canadian Heritage. "Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols Promotion > Honours and salutes > Musical salute". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 3 June 2009.  
  49. ^ Department of National Defence 1999, p. 14-2-2
  50. ^ Department of National Defence 1999, p. 4-2-6
  51. ^ Victoria 1867, V.64
  52. ^ Victoria (16 May 1871), British Columbia Terms of Union, 10, Westminster: Queen's Printer,, retrieved 16 June 2009  
  53. ^ Victoria (26 June 1873), Prince Edward Island Terms of Union, Schedule, Westminster: Queen's Printer,, retrieved 16 June 2009  
  54. ^ George VI (23 March 1949), Newfoundland Act, 8.1, Ottawa: King's Printer for Canada,, retrieved 16 June 2009  
  55. ^ Legislative Assembly of Alberta. "Public Information > Lieutenant Governors > The Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories". Queen's Printer for Alberta. Retrieved 23 June 2009.  
  56. ^ Victoria (12 May 1870), Manitoba Act, 1870, 6, Westminster: Queen's Printer,, retrieved 16 June 2009  
  57. ^ Edward VII (20 July 1905), Alberta Act, 10, Westminster: King's Printer,, retrieved 16 June 2009  
  58. ^ Edward VII (20 July 1905), Saskatchewan Act, 10, Westminster: King's Printer,, retrieved 16 June 2009  
  59. ^ Jackson, Michael D. (2003). "Golden Jubilee and Provincial Crown". Canadian Monarchist News (Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada) 7 (3): 6. Retrieved 11 June 2009.  
  60. ^ Saywell, John T. (1957). The Office of Lieutenant Governor: A Study in Canadian Government and Politics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 13–14.  
  61. ^ Kenney, Jason (23 April 2007). Talking Points for The Honourable Jason Kenney. Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 14 May 2009.  
  62. ^ Watson, William (1892), Maritime Bank v. Receiver-General of New Brunswick, written at London, in Jackson, Michael, "Golden Jubilee and Provincial Crown", Canadian Monarchist News (Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada) 7 (3): 6, 2003,, retrieved 11 June 2009  


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