Even if it's not an elected position, and that the position itself is a token, it's bloody amazing. We're the first white-dominated country to have a black head of state, a black woman that comes from the country that won the first independence struggle against colonial rulers in the Americas. (The United States don't count; the religious fundamentalist insurgents there were the colonizers themselves.) I think this is an important milestone.
As for the separatist allegations. In the part II of this thread, someone posted a link to this blog entry, where we're told that Jean is a Québec nationalist. Now, semantics are important here, because nationalist does not mean necessarily sovereigntist, even though the author mentions that his sources say Jean has a "penchant" for the movement.
As I mention in another an opinion letter to be published elsewhere, independence movements can be quite attractive, especially to the budding intellectual, youth, and immigrants that come from countries that have had to fight for their own liberation (and in Haiti's case, today still have to fight in spite of being a nominally independent nation).
Growing up, I also felt drawn to that struggle. It's just naturally sexy. By the time I was old enough to vote (in the 1990s), I now think that the need for independence had vanished. There used to be some legitimate reasons for wanting separation, but the PQ has been quite successful in changing Québec society as to make separation irrelevant, including, in spite of itself, scaring off some 200,000 anglo-Montrealers into moving to Toronto. (Now the sovereigntist movement is mostly a bunch of whinos that are too dishonest to recognize that the problem is with the Canadian federation, not anglos versus francos anymore, in spite of silly hullaballoo like this current affair.)
But back to Jean. Being a Québécois nationalist is one thing; being a separatist is something else, and being part of the movement is yet another. The Queen is quite disliked in Québec, even by federalists, and being associated with her is not good thing in the first place. If Jean had been a separatist, she would be losing her friends quite quickly over taking this appointment. Taking this appointment would be turncoating with a vengeance. That can't quite compare to Ujjal Dosanjh or Jean Lapierre, although the latter has been quite strong with that double U-turn at the altar. Supposing she had been part of the movement, she couldn't have used any better means to tell it off, but that kind of nastiness is uncharacteristic of the Michaëlle Jean we know.
The only other way I could think where she could have spited separatists more than becoming Governor General would be become Prime Minister herself. She's pretty young still, she can build her reputation on this new appointment, and who knows where it will lead her...
What this means though is that we now have a head of state who, should a referendum occur during her mandate with a minority government in Ottawa and a referendum result that's as close as last time, could be seen as credible by Québécois people should she have to make an unpopular decision, instead of being seen as a federalist stooge. Like most Canadians that have crossed the Québec/ROC cultural divide, she's in a priviledged position to understand the bicephal nature of Canada. But more than that, she's worked for both arms of our cultural/soul broadcaster, in fact herself being a producer of our national discourse.
We've come a long way since the appointment of the unilingual Ray Hnatyshyn and where the job was offered as a reward for services rendered. I think that this appointment turns the freak accident that was the Clarkson/Saul combo into a new standard for the Governor General, where s/he is more expected to represent the Canada to the world than to represent the Queen to Canadians, and where we're not supposed to be ashamed by the title holder.