SHOULD CANADA DROP THE QUEEN?

Australia could soon drop Queen Elizabeth as head of state if, as seems likely, Opposition Labour party leader, Kevin Rudd, wins the general election in October. If elected, Rudd will have a referendum to replace the Queen with an elected president.

Wouldn’t this be a good time for Canada to review our monarchical status? The fact that an eighty year-old woman, admirable though she is, theoretically governs us from Buckingham Palace seems a bit of an anomaly in this day and age.

The vast majority of Canadians are not monarchists. And that goes without saying in Quebec. When just the other day the possibility of the Queen coming to help celebrate Quebec’s 450th birthday next summer, the idea was hastily shot down. I guess so.

We would retain our governor-general who could still be nominated by the Prime Minister or could be elected. It would be quite simple to cut the ties with England and become a brand new republic.

We’ve been under the British Crown since 1759. Isn’t it high time to dump this constitutional fiction?

What do you think?

P.S.  I’m off to the President’s Cup on Saturday.  Hope to get close to Tiger.  Neil

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7 Comments »

  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    Quebec will be celebrating its 400th birthday. (Quebec City is my hometown: woohoo!!!)

    I feel a lot of ambivalence about the monarchy. I think I’d like Canada to do away with it, although I feel a certain closeness to it because my mother was born in England and I like my English roots. There needs to be some kind of head of state in Canada, with some kind of real function– not just a ceremonial figurehead. Probably one of the reasons why we never got rid of the monarchy is because it’d be too complicated to get rid of it. It’s like an old used car you don’t want to bring to the garage. You know there’s something awry under the hood but you don’t dare bring it to the garage for fear that they’ll find something else…and something else..and something else. As long as it works, you just leave it as it is, even if it means (as was the case with my dad’s old car) put a plank of wood over a hole, or tying up the muffler so it doesn’t fall. It gets you there, gets you back, you don’t tinker with it.

    I think that’s how Canada deals with the monarchy.

  2. 2
    Chimera Says:

    Neil, the monarch is only the titular head of state. She costs us almost nothing, and she sure as hell isn’t the one who reneged on campaign promises.

    I say keep the queen and get rid of the prime minister!

  3. 3

    Suzanne –
    That’s a very vivid image, using tinkering with your Dad’s rusty old car for the way we handle the monarchy. Actually, I don’t think it would be too complicated to disentangle ourselves from the monarchy. Have a referendum, pass it and petition Westminister to let us go. They would and we’d be on our way.

    Chimera –
    You may well be right that we should keep the Queen and get rid of the PM. I’m afraid, though, the Queen would have none of it.

  4. 4
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    A few thoughts:

    1) Correct me if I’m wrong, but any constitutional change to any institutions belonging to the Queen falls under the amendment formula requiring unanimity. This means that all 10 provinces plus the federal government would have to agree to the resolution. This is a non-starter from the get-go. No one’s going to get all 11 entities to agree on this.

    2) The Governor-General is the Queen’s representative in Canada. If she goes, so should the G-G. Keeping the G-G would only be useful as an institution because he spends his time doing PR type of stuff: opening new bridges and handing out awards, etc. which would free the Prime Minister from doing such tasks that take his attention away from more pressing matters.

    The Queen and her institutions are symbols; not just symbols of which ethnic group helped create Canada but, hopefully, other more valuable things such as our parliamentary system of democracy and the common law. In praising and respecting her, I hope the idea is to praise and give homage to those institutions, amongst others, that have been proven to be invaluable to Western civilization.

  5. 5

    Tony –
    There is a great deal of merit in your thoughtful comment. I think it would require provincial unanimity. On your second point, I support keeping the office of prime minister and head of state separate. We could replace the G.G with a president, perhaps elected. Indeed the crown is a rich symbol pointing to our history and we probably should think long and hard before rejecting it.

  6. 6
    Dan R. Says:

    I’m for a Canadian Republic. I don’t think the monarchy has anymore use here, and I don’t like the idea of my head of state being the head of state because of the accident of birth.

    At least half that family could be called royal stumblebums. Her Majesty’s consort is a philanderer, so is the heir to the throne, and his late consort.

    The Grand Old Duke of Edinburgh has often berated his own children in public when he feels like it, and his grandson, currently third in line to the throne, has been seen wearing a swastika.

    Thus far William IV has kept things in perspective, but the paparazzi is driving him and his girlfriend crazy.

    The monarchy is a necessity for the British and the British only. It’s a major, major tourist attraction and should remain that way–in Britain–it’s not a tourist attraction in Canada and has no worth to us! Bowing before another person is idolatry, with the exception of stage actors who bow to thank and receive applause from their audience!

  7. 7

    Dan:
    Well, if you drop the monarchy would the Canadian prime minister also be head of state?


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