Tag Archives: monarchy

An Engaging Way to Shine a Light on a Forgettable Monarchy

By Jason Menard,

For many, yesterday’s announcement of an engagement between Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton was an unforgettable moment; for me, it was a reminder of just how forgettable the monarchy is in our modern Canadian lives.

You see, Canada’s a part of the Commonwealth, a group of independent member states (54 in all), most of whom were part of the British Empire. Queen Elizabeth is head of that organization and is also Canada’s Head of State. So the monarchy is a pretty big deal for many Canucks – and royal watching is a spectator sport.
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Courting the Governor General

By Jason Menard

Phew. I’m glad that’s over. Michaelle Jean has come out of the closet finally. After much hand-wringing and back and forth debate: Is she or isn’t she? Was she or wasn’t she? Our governor general-designate has finally come forth to say her and her husband are proud, flag-waving Canadians.

Thank goodness that’s been decided. Now the position can go back to its irrelevance and Jean can assume her place in the annals of Canadian historical trivia.

Interestingly enough, many of those who claim that Jean’s alleged support of separatist causes would undermine the integrity of the position are the very same people who were ready to abolish the whole post in response to Adrienne Clarkson’s free-spending ways during her tenure. Suddenly a position that was no more than a benign, but necessary, growth on our system of constitutional monarchy turned into a malignant growth that threatened the very political life of our Prime Minister.

While the uproar over Jean’s alleged nationalist leanings may have its basis in simple politicking, part of it reeks of our Canadian need to be loved and validated. With separatists factions gaining steam in the West due to its economic prosperity, and dissatisfaction with Jean Charest’s Liberal government fanning the flames of nationalism in Quebec, maybe those on Parliament Hill are just looking for someone to tell them they love them.

Like an insecure lover, Canadian federalists need to hear that their expressions of amour are reciprocated. There’s nothing worse than professing your love, getting hitched, and then finding out that the object of our affection has a wandering eye and her heart is somewhere else.

Of course, there are the whisperings from the Prime Minister’s camp that the seeds from which the rumours of separatist sympathy have grown were actually sown by nationalist forces in Quebec. Essentially, the idea is that sovereigntists are acting like jealous lovers — if separatism can’t have her, then nobody can. And that they don’t want to see a federalist Quebecker in a position of prominence as she may be able to effectively woo soft-separatists or swing voters in the province towards the Canadian cause.

But let me tell you, if these first few days are indicative of Jean’s tenure, then I may hop on board the pro-Governor General bandwagon. Essentially a patronage appointment, this office has long been looked down upon by many Canadians. Viewed as a necessary, but largely irrelevant, position in modern Canada, the Governor General’s office is a reminder of our Commonwealth affiliation and attachment to an absentee sovereign.

So when you combine the outgoing Governor General’s penchant for being free with the ol’ taxpayer-filled wallet with the questions over the incoming Governor General’s loyalty to our nation, maybe the motivation will be there to take a good, solid look at the role of the monarchy in our day-to-day lives.

Maybe instead of courting the Governor General, we’ll decide as a nation to walk away from the position entirely. The fact of the matter is that the Queen’s presence in this country – well, not her physical presence of course – is cause for debate in our society. While not a front-burner issue like separatism, sponsorship inquiries, or human rights, it is, nonetheless, a simmering pot heating up on the back burner.

Perhaps the passions that have been incited by our two most recent appointees will finally fan the flames of that debate and cause it to boil over. If that’s the case, we’ll finally able to engage in a nationwide debate on the role of the Governor General, the monarchy, and what it means to be a Canadian.

Then, at least, we’ll be able to say that the Governor General is far from irrelevant.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Time to Give the Queen the Royal Wave

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.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved