OTTAWA -- The Harper government his creating an advisory committee to help come up with a short-list for vice-regal appointments.

The committee will make recommendations when the Governor-General's job becomes open or the job of lieutenant governor in the provinces and territories.

The committee will be headed by Kevin McLeod, Canada's long-standing secretary to the Queen.

It will also have two permanent federal members along with two temporary regional members when a lieutenant governor must be picked.

The largely ceremonial role of governor general and lieutenant general has been put in a political spotlight in recent years.

That's because they are the final arbiters of governments that seek to prorogue the House of Commons or provincial legislatures.

Former governor general Michaelle Jean came under intense scrutiny for agreeing to prorogue the Commons at the request of the Harper government when it faced political difficulties.

And Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley faced pointed questions last month for granting Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty's request to prorogue Queen's Park in the midst of scandal.