The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
Role and Responsibilities
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At home and abroad

State Visits

For most of the last century, and increasingly in recent decades, governors general have played an important role in relations between Canada and other countries by carrying out State visits abroad and by hosting many foreign heads of State on official visits to Canada. These visits allow the governor general to promote Canada, to strengthen existing international relations and to enrich ties in various sectors of Canadian life.

During State visits abroad, the governor general is always accompanied by a delegation of people representing every region of Canada, to provide the hosting country with a more comprehensive overview of our nation. The delegates represent various Canadian interests, achievements and areas of expertise.

As part of State dinners and other official occasions at Rideau Hall or at the Citadelle, our nation’s culinary excellence is showcased by serving the finest of Canadian ingredients and wines. The arts and culture of Canada are also featured in presentations and performances held during these events.

Letters of Credence

Upon their arrival in Canada, and before they can carry out their duties as heads of mission, new ambassadors, as well as new high commissioners of countries for which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is not head of State, must be officially welcomed by the governor general of Canada. High commissioners representing countries for which The Queen is the head of State are introduced to the prime minister of Canada.

Letters of credence are the official documents by which foreign heads of State grant diplomatic accreditation to new heads of diplomatic missions to serve as their official representative. Currently, there are more than 130 heads of diplomatic missions accredited to Canada.

The governor general also signs the diplomatic letters of Canadian heads of mission before they leave Canada.

Date modified: May 27, 2014