While the traditional role of the Governor General is to play the mute on any issues that may upset some, smile engagingly at state functions and mouth sanctimonious platitudes upon demand, Julie Payette has a different take on her function. I applaud her for it.
It is difficult to understand how, in the 21st century, we are supposed to acknowledge the importance of science, yet refrain from any scientific references that may offend those who are doctrinally obstinate, adhere to junk science, or demand that religious tenets be taken literally. Truths may be unpalatable to some, but they are still truths.
, opinion columnist Robyn Urback, while agreeing with the truths Payette uttered, finds them wholly inappropriate:
This is a column, rather, on whether the Queen's representative in Canada — someone who is supposed to be uncontroversial and apolitical in her role as steward of the functioning of the government of Canada — should be deriding people for their beliefs on issues like climate change, religion and alternative medicine.
Urback's justification for polite silence goes beyond the impartial role the Governor General has historically played:
In what universe is it appropriate for a Governor General to deride people for their beliefs?: Urback - CBC News | Opinion
The fact that Payette's comments can in any way be construed as political says perhaps more than we would like to admit about the state of discourse today. Have we now descended to being influenced by the lowest denominator, the schoolboy bully or the one who threatens to inform on us to the teacher? Those afflicted with benighted thinking may be offended; but that possibility must surely not be the determinant of what is considered fit for public consumption.
A race to the bottom is an easy one to win. Coming in last takes real effort, courage and integrity.