Don Martin: Michaelle Jean has lost the aura of someone worth defending
She was a breath of fresh air into a stale job.
Incredibly bright and charismatic with an instant connection to average Canadians, Michaelle Jean checked every box on a list to shake up the staid image of a Canadian Governor General.
Her vice-regal performance, despite a few hiccups, lived up to the hype - particularly when she was called upon to save the Stephen Harper government from a Liberal-led coalition by granting him a vote-dodging prorogation.
What happened to that Michaelle Jean is now a major international mystery.
Abandoned by her country and her home province of Quebec, she is about to be cast adrift as one-term secretary general of La Francophonie, a coalition of 54 countries with a loose French-language connection.
Officially, she’s the wrong citizenship for an organization that is determined to elevate an African member’s representative to the top job. That the heir apparent has connections to the Rwandan genocide is apparently of little concern.
But the fault also lies with a Jean who is hard to recognize as the class-act resident of Rideau Hall until 2010.
The former journalist should’ve known better as she embraced a regal lifestyle in a non-regal job.
The position’s Canadian Embassy residence in Paris got a jaw-dropping $500,000 renovation when a former Canadian occupant said it only needed better hot water and air conditioning.
That $50,000 four-night jaunt to New York City, her husband’s chauffeur-driven car and a vanity project for youth that soared over budget didn’t impress representatives from some of Africa’s poorest countries.
And, like the $16 orange juice expense claim that tanked a Harper cabinet minister, there’s her perception-killer – the $20,000 tab for a grand piano to be installed in her residence.
Such aloof living made it easier for Prime Minister Trudeau and Quebec premier-elect Francois Legault to drive the bus over her doomed bid. She has lost the aura of someone worth defending.
That set up an even more baffling development – her refusal to gracefully concede defeat and end her doomed re-election bid.
This shows strangely poor judgement and raises questions about the dignity of a person who oozed it as governor general.
Whether Canada should remain a key member of an organization where more than a third are dictatorships and many barely speak French is another discussion altogether.
But the fresh-air Jean we thought we knew has become a stale and sad spectacle, desperately clinging to perks and power that a well-deserved fate will soon snatch away.
And that’s the Last Word.