The Crown plays a role in our province equally significant to the role it plays on the national stage. Just as the Governor General is the representative of the Sovereign at Ottawa, the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick is the Sovereign’s representative in the province, and there are identical Vice-Regal offices in each Canadian province.
As the Sovereign’s representative, the Lieutenant Governor carries out the duties which are the constitutional responsibility and privilege of the Sovereign. The three most common of these duties are Royal Assent, the summoning and dissolving of the Legislative Assembly, and the Speech From the Throne.
Royal Assent is the designation given to the formal approval given by the Lieutenant Governor to all legislation passed in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. No piece of legislation may go into effect without first being given Royal Assent.
The Lieutenant Governor also retains the right to summon and dissolve the Legislative Assembly, and to call a general election, when asked to do so by the Premier. The Lieutenant Governor invites the leader of the party which has won the majority in a general election to form a government, and also dissolves a
Legislative Assembly when its five years have expired or when it appears that the government has lost the confidence of the Assembly. The Vice-Regal representative may also refuse to dissolve the Assembly and to call an election if he or she believes that the election is unnecessary, or may also dissolve the Assembly should it appear that the government or Assembly as a whole is acting unconstitutionally. Except in the rarest of cases, the Lieutenant Governor follows the advice of the Premier.
The Lieutenant Governor spends little time at the Legislative Assembly throughout the year, but is always present for the opening of a new Session of the Assembly. At that time, he or she takes centre stage for the reading of the Speech
From the Throne, an address outlining the goals and objectives of, and drawn up by, the sitting government. The Lieutenant Governor, rather than the Premier, reads the speech, because, after all, it is the Sovereign’s government.
The Lieutenant Governor also participates in a number of other important traditions, of which the most significant is his or her role as the conveyor of honours in the province (the Sovereign being the fount of honours). The Vice-Regal representative presides over investitures and other awards ceremonies (the most notable of which is the Order of New Brunswick), presents citations, participates in events across New Brunswick, serves as patron or patroness of charitable associations and institutions, receives Ambassadors and other foreign guests to the province, etc., etc., etc.
For further reading, consult the helpful seminar by The Honourable George F.G. Stanley, available for loan from the Branch library.