Monday, November 02, 2009

About our Monarchy

As Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall set to arrive in Canada for a cross-country tour, their arrival triggers the discussion amongst Canadians of why we should or should not have a monarchy.

While in Britain, Michael Ignatieff wrote an article back in 1992 (h/t Stephen Taylor) after Prince Charles and Princess Diana called it quits.

"For the choice the British face is between clinging to an institution which has had its day or affirming what their history has always taught, which is that “We, the people” and not the crown are the source of all power and authority in this island."
From it, you can tell obviously he prefers a republican-style constitution, in Britain, nonetheless. Can we transfer that opinion over to his belief of a Canadian republic? Absolutely!

Two things to note here about Ignatieff:

1) He comes from a line of Russian nobility himself, whether he feels was a legitimate rule, I'm not sure.

2) He returned to Canada for one reason only and that was to try and become prime minister of a country he's been away from for 34 years, and was eventaully "annointed" Liberal leader, not even being duly elected in contested leadership race.

Whatever contradictions you wish to make from that, by all means.

Many Canadians believe we should try and go it alone as a republic. I have thought long and hard about this for many years, but with the recent constitutional squabbles in our parliament, my belief in a Canadian monarchy grows stronger.


I had to remind a fellow Canadian living abroad that the Queen of Canada is Queen Elizabeth II. SHE is the Head of State of Canada, not the Governor General (GG).

If there happened to be a constitutional conflict between the GG and parliament (as represented by the Prime Minister), who would make the ultimate call? What if our government and parliament became so corrupt (as what just happened with Turks and Caicos) that the people demanded an immediate end to this?

Do I see it becoming so bad that we'd have to resort to the British government having to take over? The point is not whether it will happen, but that it COULD happen.

We are still a young country. Having the British monarchy reminds us of WHY and HOW we became the country we are. It provides that needed stability in a time of constitutional crisis, where parliament is at a stand-still, and the GG goes against the will of the people, say by appointing an unpopular coalition government. What then? Anarchy? We don't know and I don't want to know.

Sure you may not care about who these British monarchy folks are. I'd go so far to say that I don't think Prince Charles is all that popular figure in Canada. I don't agree with some of his views on environmental policy (that he even has policy), or especially his divorce to Princess Diana. Their son, William, is popular though. I, for one, would prefer Charles abdicate and have his son on our money, if God forbid, our Queen should pass-on one day. That said, it isn't for me or you to decide. In fact, that's the whole point. Like our courts, the monarchy is an institution, and our judgment should not be based upon our personal feelings or how popular they are, because this isn't a popularity contest.

It's about having that stability in our country where the will of the people is NOT shared by parliamentarians nor the Queen's representative. Who then can have the ultimate non-partisan authority to represent all citizens and make the final call in a time of crisis.

While Michael Ignatieff appears to tout "will of the people", by his own unelected rise to the Liberal leadership, his own disdain of the institution of the monarchy in Britain and therefore Canada, wanting an election that Canadians didn't, and ultimately, by signing the letter to the Governor General on supporting a coalition government between the Liberals, NDP and Quebec separatists, I submit that Michael Ignatieff knows nothing about the "will of the people".

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