The prime minister has reached into the halls of academia to find the next governor general, and has chosen legal scholar David Johnston, CTV News has learned.

"Queen Elizabeth has been informed and given her blessing," CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported late Wednesday night. "A formal announcement is expected as early as tomorrow."

Johnston, 69, was born in Sudbury, Ont., and is currently the president of the University of Waterloo. He also served for 15 years as the principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University.

He is a highly educated legal expert, and has studied at Harvard, Cambridge, and Queen's University in Ontario.

To find the best choice for governor general, Prime Minister Stephen Harper set up a special committee led by Kevin MacLeod, the Canadian Secretary to the Queen and Usher of the Black Rod for the Senate -- the most senior protocol position in Parliament.

The committee ruled out sports, entertainment and arts figures, deciding that the next governor general should be well-versed in constitutional matters and parliamentary procedure, in case Canada finds itself in an extended period of minority governments.

"They felt that he would be a good referee because of his legal expertise, but also because of his integrity, backbone and common sense," Fife told CTV News.

Johnston will be officially appointed as governor general in September when Michaelle Jean's term ends. Jean will then take on her new role as the United Nations' special envoy to Haiti.

Johnston has an impressive record of accomplishment and non-partisan public service, having worked for both Liberal and Conservative governments.

Most recently, he was recruited by Harper to write the terms of reference for the Oliphant inquiry, which examined former prime minister Brian Mulroney's business dealings with German-Canadian arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber.

Johnston may not be as familiar a face from television as Michaelle Jean or her predecessor, Adrienne Clarkson -- both women worked as broadcast journalists before being appointed as governor general.

However, he has hosted televised federal leadership debates, including the famous stand-off between Mulroney and then-prime minister John Turner in 1984.

At Harvard, Johnston also played for the university's hockey team and became the inspiration for a minor character in Love Story, the famous 1970 novel that was turned into a film.

He became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1988, and was made a Companion in 1997.

With a report by CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife