Frequently Asked Questions
(Updated May 26, 2012)
Canada ends its constitutional connection to the British monarchy, doesn't that
mean we'd become a republic?
because the monarch has purely ceremonial duties, even leading monarchists refer
to the function of a constitutional monarchy as a "crowned republic"
or "veiled republic."
So cutting the constitutional link will simply be making official what is
already functional reality.
Wouldn't we end up being a republic like the United States?
evidence that republic-minded Canadians, or even Australians, New Zealanders or
Jamaicans, desire that. Traditionally, the choice when peacefully evolving away
from monarchies has been the parliamentary republic model, where only the link
between the monarch and the governor general is removed, creating a largely
ceremonial parliamentary president with emergency constitutional powers.
Contrary to popular belief, the position need not be political or popularly
elected. The prime minister remains the head of government.
true that if we end the monarchy we'd have to rename the Mounties and lose all
our other royal patronages?
not. The Criteria for the title "Royal" includes no reference to removing it if
a country transitions from monarchy to republic. Ireland has been a republic for
over sixty years and has many institutions with royal patronages.
like Canada being a member of the Commonwealth. Becoming a republic means we'd
have to give that up, right?
That requirement was changed in 1949. Today, most member states of the
Commonwealth are republics.
Monarchy provides protection to our democratic institutions. If it ain't broke,
why fix it?
democratic values we have today are republican in principle and historically,
were won at the expense of monarchs. In Canada, the true constitutional referee
is the governor general, our de-facto head of state, although most would agree
the position is vastly under-performing in that regard. Canada's democratic
evolution away from our colonial link to the monarchy can only improve that
protection, not deter it.
Wouldn't ending the monarchy also cut ties to our history, traditions and
monarchy is only one part of our history and it can still be celebrated without
a connection to our constitution. Parliamentary traditions can remain virtually
identical. And making Canada more Canadian would enhance our distinctive
culture, not harm it.
these times of economic hardship, aren't there better things to discuss than the
Many of the
defining moments of Canadian history have been born from debates that took place
during difficult times. The Statute of Westminster (1931), The Citizenship Act
(1947), the National Flag of Canada Act (1964), The Canada Act and Charter of
Rights and Freedoms (1982) are among those historic changes.
Doesn't the monarchy provide unity and stability?
monarchy, Britain has had a multitude of secessionist revolts, plots,
revolutions and three civil wars. Queen Victoria barely escaped being overthrown
in 1857. Northern Ireland's problems are well-known and not fully dealt with
yet. Scotland plans to become independent by 2014 and Wales now has a growing
secessionist movement. In Canada, we witnessed the near breakup of our country
as a monarchy. The colonialism it represents is still a major irritant to the
gradual healing of those wounds.
Crown" is expressed everywhere in Canadian government and law. How do we replace
"The Crown" is not the physical crown, nor is "Queen Elizabeth II in Right of
Canada" the Queen "the person." Both have evolved to become synonymous with "The
This is a view supported by
constitutional experts as well as at least one former governor general. Madame
Adrienne Clarkson said as much in a 2006 CBC Newsworld interview with Don
Newman, that the position of Governor General of Canada was now the direct
representative of "the Crown", and not of the monarch, therefore making the
viceroy Canada's actual head of state.
if we choose not to have a monarch at the pinnacle of the Canadian State,
nothing happens to it. The state still goes on. It's quite possible it could
continue to be referred to as "The Crown" after we become a republic.
about our First Nations' treaties that were negotiated before Confederation?
Some believe they are only guaranteed by the monarch.
and 35 of the Constitution Act 1982 already guarantee the “existing aboriginal
and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada.” Therefore, treaty rights
are guaranteed by Canada, not the monarch.
Queen is famous the world over. How could a Canadian president represent Canada
abroad and get the kind of attention she does?
is universally known as the Queen of England or Queen of the UK and is never
referred to as the Queen of Canada, except on Canadian soil, and even then, only
rarely. What kind of international representative is that? The rest of the world
will continue to view Canada as a colonial outpost of Britain as long as our
head of state is a British monarch.
Hon. Mitchell Sharp remarked in his memoirs that he often crossed paths with the
Queen in his travels as Minister of State: He promoting Canadian interests; she
promoting Britain’s in direct competition. He also encountered foreign
dignitaries who believed "when they saw our governor general in their midst,
that Canada had not yet achieved independence from Britain."
William and the Duchess of Cambridge left Canada in July, 2011, they headed to
Hollywood to promote the British film industry, not Canada's.
Discussing cutting constitutional ties to the monarchy is futile anyway. Doesn't
it require all provinces plus both federal assemblies to approve?
conventional thinking. However, there are many areas of contention that a
parliamentary committee could help clarify. For one: it's not entirely clear
whether the "the Office of the Queen," in Section 41 (a) of the amending formula
of our constitution, applies to a king. Section 44 also says, subject to the
clause, "Parliament may exclusively make laws amending the Constitution of
Canada in relation to executive government." Does this mean Parliament could
exclusively define the Canadian head of state once the Office of the Queen has
been vacated by her abdication or death? Also, nowhere in the constitution does
it fully define the role of the governor general, our "president in waiting."
Constitutional scholar Edward McWhinney theorizes that a future government of
Canada could, after the Queen ends her reign, cut constitutional ties to the
monarchy "quietly and without fanfare by simply failing legally to proclaim any
successor to the Queen in relation to Canada," leaving the position of sovereign
of difficulty in obtaining provincial approval is overrated as well. What if the
selection process for a future Canadian head of state was delegated to the
provinces? If the vast majority of Canadians desired ending the monarchy, the
provinces could find this a very attractive option.
even questions about the legitimacy of the present 1982 amending formula. In a
blatant example of foreign interference in Canada's internal affairs, British
High Commissioner Sir John Ford lobbied the premiers extensively to insist that
they block approval of Trudeau's repatriation unless they insisted on a tougher
amending formula relating to the monarchy. His term in Canada was cut short due
to this meddling.
don't see people clamoring in the street for this change. Do Canadians even want
to break with the monarchy?
exception, Canadians have never been the type to take to the streets for any of
the pivotal moments in Canada's evolution. However, when asked, they do have
strong views on the monarchy.
In a 2005
national public opinion poll, only 23% of Canadians believed the monarchy was
important enough for Canada to keep.
In 2010, only 32% of Canadians opposed opening the constitution to address the
Between 2001 and 2011, the majority preferred ending the monarchy either now or
at the end of the Queen's reign, or couldn't care less, in twelve out of
fourteen national public opinion polls.
aberration was mid to late, 2011, when most would agree that opinion was skewed
by the tabloid celebrity status of the royal newlyweds. Asked whether it's time
for a resident Canadian to be our head of state over the next royal in line:
Prince Charles, and
is quite different.
monarchy seems harmless. Why bother?
nation should neglect its evolution because there’s some degree of effort.
Admittedly, for as long as there's been monarchy, there have been those who
oppose it for its inegalitarian and undemocratic nature. But now, Canadians are
increasingly realizing that a country that has rejected titles and aristocracy
many decades ago, and which triumphs merit over bloodline, deserves to have the
same values mirrored in the highest office of the land.
Our head of
state should be a resident citizen and every Canadian child should be able to
grow up knowing that the position is not off limits because he or she was born
into the wrong family. Also, Canada has matured as a nation and is well beyond
sharing its head of state with any country, much less the one that used to call
us a colony. We will never fully achieve a unique identity, a sense of national
self, until our head of state is not just one of us, but chosen by us.
James (1921). Modern democracies. Kessinger Publishing.
Bagehot, Walter (1919). The Works and Life of Walter Bagehot, vol. 9.
Longmans, Green & Co.
McWhinney, Edward (2005). The Governor General and the Prime Ministers.
York Times Feb. 14, 1981. Canada's Tangle - and Ours, Canadian
Monarchist News, 2001
2005 - Centre for Research and Information on Canada (CRIC)
2010 - Angus Reid Public Opinion
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