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Canadian charter rights diminished by outdated British act

Toronto, March 10, 2005 - Citing defense of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Citizens for a Canadian Republic is again supporting former Toronto politician Tony O'Donohue in his legal fight against the Act of Settlement. The archaic British legislation, enacted in 1701 to restrict the British throne to Protestants, was inherited by Canada in 1867 and to this day, bans Catholics and members of other faiths from being Canada's head of state.

Specifically, the legislation excludes from the line of succession, anyone who "shall hold communion with the see or Church of Rome, or should profess the popish religion, or marry a papist."

Canada is referred to in the passage that includes the jurisdiction as being "this realm, and Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging, or any part of the same."

O'Donohue, a member of the Roman Catholic denomination, is particularly offended by the section of the act that exempts members of his faith from being Canada's head of state. He feels his views have widespread support. Statistics Canada reported in 2001 that Roman Catholics were the largest religious group in the country, with just under 12.8 million people or 43% of the population.

There are constitutional ramifications as well. The wording of the legislation also states: "whosoever shall hereafter come to the possession of this Crown, shall join in communion with the Church of England, as by law established."

By restricting successors to only members of one specific sect of the Christian faith, the act appears to contravene Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 15(1) of The Charter of Rights and Freedoms expressly forbids discrimination on the basis of "race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

According to Mr. O'Donohue, "The Act of Settlement has stained our Constitution. You can't have the Charter on one side and the Act of Settlement on the other."

"Imagine the head of state of Canada, by English law, cannot be a Catholic! It speaks volumes about the foundations of our country and our inability to cope with the very basics of democracy. And it questions our maturity as a nation and how we can exist with such imported intolerance at the very fabric of nationhood", he adds.

Citizens for a Canadian Republic, an organization dedicated to promoting the eventual Canadianization of the head of state, agrees, believing the act is completely out of step with Canadian sensibilities and impinges upon Canada's reputation as a tolerant, progressive nation. The group also sees it as proof of the need for a head of state who is both a democratically selected Canadian and is not above or exempt from our laws.

The Ontario Court of Appeal's legal proceedings will be taking place on Friday, March 11 at 10:30 AM at Toronto's Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, courtroom 2, second floor. The presiding justices will be The Hon. Mr. Justice David H. Doherty, The Hon. Mr. Justice John I. Laskin and The Hon. Mm. Justice Jean L. MacFarland.

Citizens for a Canadian Republic will be demonstrating its support at the front doors of Osgoode Hall at 10 AM Friday.


Citizens for a Canadian Republic is a registered non-partisan, not-for-profit organization advocating the Canadianization of the head of state since 2002. Membership is available free by clicking here. More information is available at CCR’s website. 
Susan Bazinet
Citizens for a Canadian Republic
2100 Bloor Street West, Suite 6 - 146
Toronto, Ontario M6S 5A5
Phone(416)705-5660, Fax(416)532-3792
Tony O'Donohue - (416)481-8255 or
Tom Freda - (416)705-5660 or
The Act of Settlement
The Guardian (Britain)

© 2005 Citizens for a Canadian Republic