The Canadian Queen
Well, the incessant debate is back: shall we dump the Queen or shall we keep her?
The Young Liberals of Canada pushed the issue in an attempt to have it addressed at the Liberal Party’s national convention. We live in a constitutional monarchy. True. Elizabeth II and her children have been a welcome source of nostalgia for us all. True. But is it time to cast off our association to the British monarchy?
Despite the merits of the Young Liberals’ argument, the overall debate is nothing less than a waste of time. In the squabbling leading up to the 1982 repatriation, Pierre Trudeau allowed monarchist premiers to insert legislation that required unanimous provincial consent as a requirement to amend the monarchical relationship.
As this is extremely unlikely there must have been political incentives behind the Young Liberals' proposal. Their motivation was likely an attempt to steal back Quebec from the NDP under the guise of providing Canadians with a stronger national identity. The Young Liberals have argued that Canadians believe in "earning one's position in life" rather than simply being born into it. As such, "our head of state should be a true representative of the people of Canada.”
Despite this obvious political manoeuvring by the Young Liberals', as a nation that considers itself progressive, we should embrace progressive amendments to our system and acknowledge the realities of the modern era. Controversy aside, the Criminal Amendment Act of 1968-69 offers a glaring example of government’s willingness to take a progressive stance.
Following World War I, Canada began cutting its ties to the monarchy. By WWII this transition was all but complete leaving us with the symbolic but powerless relationship that exists today. Since this relationship is purely symbolic, why not take the next step and make our head of state a symbol of our own? One that is truly Canadian.
With the Constitution standing in the way, we all know how this debate will end. And yet actors will continue to present the sorts of arguments that have been present all my life: “Elizabeth II is, yes, the Queen of Canada. But she is not Canadian Legalistically, that disconnect may look right. But it is deeply wrong.” (http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Queen+Canadian/5994999/story.html)
*Mackenzie D. Turner is a student in the Master of Public Policy program at The School of Public Policy (2011-2012 academic year)