SHOULD A CANADIAN SOLDIER TOAST THE QUEEN?

Captain Aralt Mac Glolla Chainnigh (Gaelic version of Harold Kenny) has been a soldier in the Canadian armed forces since 1975. He is currently an associate professor of physics at Royal Military College, Kingston, and an officer of the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry.

During his entire military career the Captain has objected to toasting the Queen at regimental dinners, saluting the Union Jack or singing God Save the Queen. The Captain argues that Canada, as a sovereign nation, cannot be at the same time beholden to a foreign queen. “It’ a logical impossibility.”

The Captain goes on. “I recognize loyalty to the people of Canada alone. I could drink a toast to Elizabeth — if I knew her. I could drink a toast to her as head of state of the United Kingdom … But I cannot in good faith toast her as the Queen of Canada.”

The Captain presented his case to the Federal Court and this week the judge turned him down flat saying an exception for the Captain, then others, would lead to chaos. “Whether Captain Mac Giolla Chainnigh likes it or not, the fact is the Queen is his Commander-in-Chief and Canada’s Head of State.”

The Captain says he cannot afford to appeal the case but he is hoping some republican groups in Canada will pick up his cause.

Do you think the Captain has a case?

Or should he be compelled to toast the Queen at military functions?

12 Comments »

  1. 1
    Chimera Says:

    “Do you think the Captain has a case?”

    Not one that I would be willing to fight for. Or pay for.

    “Or should he be compelled to toast the Queen at military functions?”

    No. Not compelled. After all, Trudeau refused to toast the Queen while sitting at table with her, so why should anyone else be compelled to do what our “first among equals” refused to do?

    But from his preferred form of his name, he’s very likely a Scots Nationalist, so why is he in the Canadian armed forces, rather than over in Scotland, helping to organize his own military unit? Is he waiting for Sean Connery to call him up?

    The queen is Canada’s head of state and our military commander-in-chief. Both titles are completely honorific, with no real clout to them. They’re a form of diplomatic courtesy, empty of all real meaning. It hurts no one to raise a glass to the queen and salute her as being the real head of state of a country that forms most of our history.

    But even she will not dispute his choice to remain seated and deny her his salute. And if she will not, I will not.

  2. 2
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    The good captain is in the army since 1975. At some point in time he must have sworn allegiance the Queen as any public servant does.
    He is obviously a Canadian so why, dear Chimera should he be in Scotland’s Home Guard, pray tell?
    As for toasting the Queen he should be free to do so or not as we all are. I guess Lillibeth could’nt care less.

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    No, the Captain does not have a case and, yes, he should be compelled to toast her at military functions if ordered to. That’s what military people are supposed to do: take orders whether they like them or not. Exceptions are make for violations of things such as the Geneva Convention which this incident hardly falls under.

    Chimera is incorrect to say that the Queen’s title as Head of State is honorific. It is not. It is, in law, a reality…a constitutional reality.
    Indeed, changing anything to do with the Queen in Canada’s constitution requires the unanimity clause of the amending formula, the toughest of all the several fomulae available, meaning that all 10 provinces plus Canada’s parliament must agree to the change.

    The Queen’s representative in Canada is the Governor-General. No legislation is passed by Canada’s parliament without his signature being affixed to it; on the provincial level, the Queen’s representatives are the 10 Lieutenant-Governors whose signatures also must be affixed to provincial bills before they can become law.

    I think the word that Chimera should have used is “ceremonial” instead of “honorific” although even that word doesn’t do these offices justice. Certainly, neither the Queen nor the British parliament are “supposed” to have any real influence on Canadian legislation, yet it took both the passage of legislation in Britain’s parliament and the Queen’s signature in order for Pierre Trudeau to patriate the Constitution back in ’81 (without any debate and without much interest on Britain’s part, I think the Patriation Bill was squeezed in between a dog catcher’s bill and one on chimney sweeping).

    But both the Governor-General and the Lieutenant-Governors ARE supposed to be creatures of the Prime Minister in Council. That means that should the Prime Minister want to “veto” any provincial legislation that he could do it using these representatives of the Queen by disallowing provincial legislation within one year of receipt of a provincial bill by the Governor-General or by reservation by a Lieutenant-Governor not affixing his signature to a provincial bill within two years of its passage by the legislature.

    Although these powers of the office of the Queen have fallen into disuse, they are still very real powers should a Prime Minister decide to use them. It was only about 10 years ago that a controversial pick of a Lieutenant-Governor for Quebec, chosen by Jean Chretien, resigned because of alleged past sympathies for the Nazis while a youth. There were whispers at the time that the complaining party — the ruling Parti Quebecois — were worried that Chretien’s pick would thwart any pushes for a Unilateral Declaration of Independence in the aftermath of a “Yes” referendum victory by reserving any such legislation.

  4. 4
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    The man picked by Jean-Chrétien was Senator Jean-Louis Roux a well known man of theater here in Québec. While a medical student at the Université de Montréal he had worn a swastika band on the sleeve of his white frock at a Hallow’Een party. Does it not remind one of Prince Harry?
    And Tony is perfectly right on the constitutional ground. The last Governor general to use these powers, if I am nor mistaken, was Lord Baron Bing de Vimy when he appointed the opposition chief to try and form the governement when the then minority Conservative Governemen having lost a confidence vote asked for elections to be called. He was within his powers but was called back to England very soon afterward and replaced. No other G-V. ever tried to pull the stunt afterward.

  5. 5
    Jim Says:

    A) How did the captain get into the army without having to swear allegiance to the Queen.
    B) The captain holds his rank at the pleasure of the Queen.
    C) A toast to the Queen is not a command.
    D) Somewhere along the line, Queenie may have heard about the captain and suggested freezing future promotions. Most likely that is why he is only a Captain after 34 Years of service.
    E) The army is a dictatorship, it has no room for personal opinions. I sure would like to see this man’s crime sheet.

  6. 6
    Alex Thomas Says:

    That soldier should NOT toast the Queen. Queens are NOT slices of bread. She should be marinated in Guinness, and then baked in a slow oven, to crispy brown perfection.
    Okay, enough sophomoric humour. If he chooses NOT to salute the Queen, or drink her health, then leave him alone. However, bringing the whole shebang up in a court case is a sure indication that SOMEONE has far too much time on their hands. If so, why doesn’t he start his OWN republican movement? Which would achieve exactly….what?
    My name is Alex Thomas. Gentlemen — THE QUEEN!

  7. 7
    Chimera Says:

    Tony: You’re absolutely correct about my choice of word — I should have used “ceremonial.” But as for the rest…

    One reason the power of the office of the queen is still on the books is that it would take so much effort, not to mention MONEY, to remove it. Not to mention time for the debate in which every partisan on both sides will have time to air his personal grievances for/against the crown. And if the speaker tries to limit debate, there’ll be such a furor and media storm that the entire purpose of the proposal will get lost.

    And then there’s the “omnibus” factor — especially with King Stevie the Shrew at the helm. He’ll decide that since everyone really wants to get rid of the power of the throne, titular as it is, then he can use the opportuntiy to tie it to a bill he knows to be extremely unpopular with everyone, and we can either have both or none. The bastard has done it before, and he’ll keep doing it until he’s stopped.

    Did I say only one reason? Heh. I can’t count, either, can I?

    Paul: He might be a Canadian, but there’s no requirement for it. Non-citizens are allowed to enter Canada’s military. And being a Scots Nationalist is a political affiliation, geared toward Scotland’s independence from England, not a citizenship. It’s quite possible for him to be both.

    Jim: (A) Non-Christians are also accepted in the Canadian forces. I don’t know about today, but when I was sworn in, a bible was used. Someone protested, and the captain doing the ceremony said to just ignore the bible — it meant nothing. Swearing allegiance to the queen also means nothing. It’s all pro forma. No one takes it seriously. But it would take too much effort, time, and money to change it.

  8. 8
    Colm Says:

    Actually Aralt Mac Giolla Chainnigh has an Irish not a Scottish name, he’s a fluent Irish speaker and he established the first recognised Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) outside of the Republic or Ireland.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aralt_Mac_Giolla_Chainnigh

  9. 9
    Chimera Says:

    Colm, thanks for the link. Oops on the Scot/Irish confusion. My knowledge of Gaelic is limited to insults and toasts, and those are pretty much interchangeable. 😉

    But it occurs to me, that as an Irish republican, he has even less reason to want to salue British royalty than the Scots…

  10. 10
    Kevin H. Goligher CD Says:

    You all forget one thing, when we are sworn into the Cdn Forces, we all swear or affirm that we “will bear true alliegence to Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors.” The officer in question took that oath freely, so he could get a Queen’s Commission and become an officer. When he refused to drink to the Queen’s health, he broke his oath. He is therefore a liar, has no honour and should be booted out of the militaryfor treason(see trivia below). It does not matter if you agree with the Queen or not. Duty, Honour, Country really do mean something to soldiers. When an officer gives their word it and keeps it, the troops know that they can trust him. In battle, when the troops do not trust their officer, the troops die, (or they shoot the SOB in the back first as happened in WWII).
    As many Canadian soldiers do, I take my oath to the Queen very seriously, and have on occasion forcefully explained to a mouthy civilian that calling Her Majesty foul names in my pressence was not conducive to thier good health.
    A bit of Trivia, after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion was put down, An order went out that water was not to used for the Loyal Toast. This was to prevent Scottish officers from passing their glass of port over over the top glass of water so as their regiment toasted the King or Queen of England, they were toasting the “King over the water” Bonny Prince Charlie. This was and still is considered an act of treason. and even today in Canadian Forces Mess Dinners the table is cleared of everything except your glass of port for the Loyal Taost. ( After 1940 the toast was permitted to be made with water for non-drinkers, but for them, their port glass is removed)
    “Slante’ a Ban Righ, agus dun edeen usal”
    (Here’s Health to the Queen and to her LOYAL Officers)

  11. 11
    Matt Says:

    I’m Irish, when I joined the Army I took an Oath. Should an exception be made for me and the thousands of other Irish soldiers in the British army?

    It’s simply what’s done, if you don’t like it you grit your teeth and do what your told, afterall it’s the military.
    It appears it is some patriotic Canadian republicianism that is influencing his decision not to drink a toast to the Queen, in which case his Gaelic heritage doesn’t quite bolster his case.
    Much respect for any military figuire to have served, however I’m not with him on this one.

  12. 12
    Kenneth T. Tellis Says:

    If Would agree with his argument, if he would agree with mine. That the Bishop of Rome is a foreign potentate to which I cannot in all honesty offer any allegiange to, and further to that I do not recognize the Bishop of Rome as anybody, but another Christian. My religious loyalty is only to Y’Shua (Jesus Christ not some would be king in disguise) I consider myself a FREE CATHOLIC. not ROMAN in any way or form.


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