By Jason Menard
Victoria Day’s just past, the Queen’s kicking around the Canadian West – things have been feeling positively regal in the Great White North. But once the Windsors leave our fair country, is it not about time to give them the Royal Wave once and for all?
Canadians as a whole are divided right down the middle on the issue of keeping our ties to the Monarchy. It’s a debate that’s certain to ruffle the features of both sides, and there seems to be no common ground from which to build a consensus. But as we continue to search for our Canadian identity, maintaining artificial ties and ceding independence – even if it is only superficial – to another foreign sovereign should be a thing of the past.
We are, as a nation, Canadians. In our ever shrinking world, ties to a faded Empire mean less and less, and our ability to forge our own identity and carve a niche in this world is integral to cementing our relevance on the international stage. Yet, by continuing to hold the hand of an absentee mother, we prevent ourselves from taking the necessary steps to be our own country.
The sad fact is that the Monarchy doesn’t really do anything for us as a country, its relevancy is diminishing, and it is – in one serious manner – having a negative impact on the development and unity of our country.
England holds a special place in the hearts of our grandparents’ generation. And, for some, that tie extends to the baby boomer generation. But for many of today’s youth, pledging allegiance to the Queen rings hollow. And future generations will be even further removed. The Governor General is not respected as the Queen’s representative, but rather lambasted as an unnecessary – and expensive – ceremonial position.
Our place in the Commonwealth isn’t dependent upon our allegiance to the Queen. Nor is our national reputation buoyed by our affiliation with England. In fact, I would say we’ve gotten to the point as a country wherein the majority of the world’s population would not draw a connection between Canada and the Monarchy.
And, most importantly, allegiance to an English Queen can be perceived as an insult to our French Canadian population. And as we try to move forward as a unified nation, forcing a significant segment to recognize the authority of a foreign sovereign smacks of modern-day colonialism, especially for a people who have embraced their own form of nationalism.
We, as a nation, have a history of which we should be greatly proud. Yet even our money features an image of the Queen, as opposed to focusing on those icons that make Canada great. The Monarchy is a part of our history – but it does not define it. In a world where symbols speak volumes, this tacit deference to England prevents us from embracing our own individuality.
So how do we move from a constitutional monarchy to a representative democratic republic? To start, the position of the Governor General, largely ceremonial in itself, could be eliminated and replaced with an elected position that would represent the people of Canada – not the Queen. Obviously, the concern has been raised that eliminating the monarchy simply drives us closer to the U.S., but that’s just not the case. There’s no rule that says we have to have a President – we can choose the term that’s most palatable to the electorate. We’re already well along the way with our Parliament and Senate systems, and the existence of our Supreme Court.
The fact is that we don’t have to follow our neighbours to the south for leadership in this matter. If the U.S. form of a republic is repellent to many Canadians, then we can look to the examples set by a number of other countries, such as France, Germany, and India, for guidance.
Canadians, by and large, suffer from a national inferiority complex. And while this is often attributed to the effects of sharing a continent with the economic and social juggernaut that is the United States, much of our inferiority in fact comes from our artificial reliance on England and our absentee sovereign.
Eliminating the Monarchy is a step we, as Canadians, need to finally stand on our own and forge a strong, independent identity. Cutting our ties to the Queen doesn’t make us more American. In fact, it allows us to become what we’ve always wanted – more Canadian.
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