Counter-point: Monarchy is an archaic institution; Canada needs to move on
With media bombardments of Prince William’s upcoming nuptials making the rounds, the debate on whether or not Canada should maintain its monarchical link to Britain and the Queen has hit the mainstream once again. As time passes, it seems that Canadians are warming to the idea of developing a Canadian republic and severing ties to the monarchy.
Polls done on Canada’s relationship with Britain and the monarchy consistently show that more and more Canadians favour the emergence of a Canadian republic. This sentiment is not surprising. Canada, along with the rest of the world, is evolving, and archaic concepts of inherited rights and peerage are seemingly less relevant as time progresses.
So why keep such an outdated and irrelevant model? Sure, being under the Queen’s umbrella of subjects provides for some cheap representation on the world stage, but what else is there? She “represents” Canada, but she doesn’t really represent Canada.
The Queen represents the Commonwealth, which encompasses over 50 states, so how would Canada’s interests be best understood when it’s only one fish in the Commonwealth pond?
It’s still perplexing how the monarchy has such staunch defenders
For a nation that ardently defines itself as something that it isn’t — being American — it still allows for Canadians to be defined as subjects of the Queen.
It’s been reiterated to the point of redundancy that keeping monarchical ties is one of the only criteria that separates Canada from America. So let me get this straight — Canadians don’t want to be like Americans because they throw their weight around the world, invade unsuspecting countries and generally feel like they own the joint, but it’s okay to be linked to the last remnants of an aristocratic empire that colonized and oppressed people for centuries?
Most Canadians are also hard-lined supporters of a clear separation between Church and State, so how does it make sense for our head of state to be the technical leader of the Church of England, which is still quite a predominant title and not one based purely on symbolism. This position within the church only further defines how archaic the notion of monarchism is in current society and how these out-of-sync the monarchy is with modern Canadian views.
Despite all this, one reservation that many hesitant fence-sitters have is what to replace the monarchy with as the Canadian head of state if ties to the monarchy were severed.
Many allude to the development of a Canadian “president” to be the ceremonial head of state, which again would make us more American. Why not just transfer the power of the head of state to the governor general and change the name of the office?
Ireland and India both implemented similar models once they decided to replace the sovereign with a republic; their respective publics have responded positively.
Other than finding a replacement as head of state, what else is there? Are people worried that we won’t be able to find a new face to put on the back of our coins?
Somehow I think we’ll manage.
While it’s easy to admit that cutting ties with the monarchy will be difficult thanks in part to just how embedded the Crown is in Canadian political and cultural institutions, this difficulty is not reason enough to keep the status quo.
In all likelihood, Canada’s ties to the sovereign will greatly deteriorate once Queen Elizabeth is succeeded.
The Queen has fulfilled her duties as Canada’s head of state quite gracefully and her support with the Canadian people means that any talks of developing a republic won’t truly start until she has passed on.
It seems highly unlikely, though, that Canadians will be willing to accept someone like Prince Charles or any other member of the gong show that is the royal family as Canada’s head of state.
It seems that Canada’s ties to the monarchy are solely built around its relationship with Queen Elizabeth. Once that ends, the discourse on a Canadian republic will greatly pick up steam and will, hopefully, be implemented one day.