The Governor General of Canada is the Queen's representative. Canada, a constitutional monarchy, still carries the Queen of England as her head of state, but it is impractical to expect the Queen to be up-to-date on all things Canadian. So, in infinite wisdom, Britain appointed a Governor General for Canada to be the de facto head of state. The position of Governor General dates back almost 400 years, from Samuel de Champlain in 1608. The Governor General most often does what the Prime Minister asks, but on occasion has refused, as in 1926, when the Governor General of the day, Lord Byng, refused to dissolve Parliament when asked by Prime Minister Mackenzie King.
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson is Canada's 26th Governor General. She was born in 1939 in Hong Kong, and came to Canada with her family in 1942. She has an extensive background in journalism, the arts and writing. Her husband, His Excellency John Ralston Saul, is famous in Canada for his literary works and holds the Order of Canada. He is the author of Voltaire's Bastards.