Bring home the monarchy

Canada’s history based on adapting British traditions, making them our own

Like a bad relationship, Canadians find themselves once again caught up in the on-again, off-again debate of what should be done about the monarchy.

The latest skirmishes appear to have been prompted by Prince Charles’ return to Canadian soil after an eight-year absence.

As expected, all of the usual voices—the monarchists decrying any mention of reform and the small, but dedicated group of republicans clamouring for an end to colonial ties.

Two issues lie at the heart of the monarchy debate—how the Head of a democratic state can be unelected and hereditary and why Canada—a sovereign nation—is governed by a woman living in London, England.

The first issue deals with the legitimacy of the institution of a constitutional monarchy.

In modern society, democratic governments have largely gone in two directions: constitutional monarchies, which are popular throughout former absolutist monarchies such as Japan and Spain; or republics, common throughout Africa and the Americas.

Constitutional monarchies have historically been much more stable and less prone to violent conflict. This is often a result of republics inherently allowing for power-crazy despots to rise to the top—a problem all too common in sub-Saharan Africa.

Constitutional monarchies have checked the Head of State into a ceremonial position, devoid of any practical powers.

Among the primary benefits of a constitutional monarchy are the impartiality of the system and the ultimate check on mob rule.

In a republic, the President is elected by the majority or plurality of voters and assumes the dual role of head of executive and head of state.

So although a substantial number of people may not want that individual as a leader, the President becomes the legal voice and face of the nation. Imagine the ignominy of pledging loyalty to George W. Bush.

In contrast, a monarch is impartial; not given over to the dealings of party politics and partisan wrangling, but still constrained by constitutional limitations of power.

The second benefit of a monarchy is the check on elected bodies imposing the will of the majority upon the minority.

While the monarch doesn’t have any real powers in practice, the constitutional abilities of the position would allow for any King or Queen to strike down legislation that could discriminate against the minority.

If a monarchy is a superior form of government, there still remains the question of who the monarch should be.

Canada has many ties to its former colonial master Great Britain, but the days when Canada was known as a Dominion of the Empire are long gone.

The past 50 years have seen Canadians steadily develop their own culture and heritage independent of Britain.

Why do we continue ties with the Queen of England? It would appear our only options are the current system or a republic.

However, I believe there’s a third alternative.

In March of last year, a young Montrealer named Autumn Kelly married a Brit by the name of Peter Phillips. Mr. Phillips happens to be the oldest grandson of the current Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II. What a perfect opportunity—a Canadian married into the British Royal Family—our Royal Family. Here’s an idea: why don’t we bring the monarchy home? A British tradition with a Quebecoise.

Since confederation, our history hasn’t been one of destroying the British institutions we have inherited, but of bringing them home, adapting them to our needs and making them our own.

The last 142 years have seen Canada bring government, the military, foreign policy, the flag and finally the Constitution under our own purview. Why not the monarchy as well?

Canada isn’t a land of revolutionary struggle—we’re a land of peaceful compromise.

Instead of turning the system on its head, let’s deal with it in typical Canadian fashion—by doing it our own way.

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