OTTAWA — Some questions and answers about what happens when a governor general suddenly leaves office.
Who does the job in the meantime?
The usual term for a governor general is five years. In the event of the absence, removal, incapacitation or death of a governor general, the chief justice or, if he or she is unavailable, the senior judge of the Supreme Court of Canada assumes the powers of the governor general and holds the title of Administrator of the Government of Canada, until replaced by a new governor general.
How is a new one is chosen?
By constitutional convention, the governor general is appointed by the Queen on the personal recommendation of the Canadian prime minister. The prime minister has discretion about whether to consult others on the selection. The appointment is made through a commission granted under the Great Seal of Canada.
Has a governor general ever left early or died in office?
Yes. Roméo LeBlanc stepped down in 1999, before the end of his term, due to health issues. However, the office was not left vacant, with LeBlanc continuing until Adrienne Clarkson was ready to succeed him.
Two have died while serving: Lord Tweedsmuir (John Buchan) in 1940 and Georges Vanier in 1967. In each case, the Supreme Court chief justice of the day stepped in to fill the role temporarily.
(Sources: Library of Parliament, ourcommons.ca, Supreme Court of Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia)