Toronto, ON, October 1, 2004 - The republican advocacy group Citizens for a Canadian Republic welcomes the decision by Prime Minister Martin to extend by one year the term of Canada's de facto head of state, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. Obviously, Madame Clarkson's experience will be an asset if she's called upon to address the potential complexities of minority government.

However, the 2-year old non profit organization is calling upon the Prime Minister to use this period to act decisively on last year's recommendations of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. In its report, titled The Governor General of Canada Role, Duties and Funding for Activities, the committee called for Parliament to take several actions, including:

1) Conduct a review and initiate a debate on the mandate, constitutional role, responsibilities, and future evolution of the Office of Governor General.

2) Conduct a review of the process for selecting and appointing the Governor General.

3) Take the necessary measures to improve its financial transparency and accountability.

How these recommendations tie into Canadianizing the head of state and CCR's goal of promoting its benefits is explained by the group's national director, Tom Freda.

"Our interest in the advice of the parliamentary committee is strategic", he points out. "Obviously, we'd like to see an elected Canadian replace the Queen as Head of State and so far, reality dictates that a reformed Office of the Governor General will likely evolve into that role".

"At the same time", he adds, "we want the transition from constitutional monarchy to parliamentary republic to be as simple and effortless as possible and the way to do that is to immediately deal with the intricacies of how we define the role of our future heads of state and how we go about selecting them. All this can be done by Parliament, without constitutional amendment and would be a first step towards making the position wholly Canadian and democratic. The final step, which would require constitutional amendment, could then be a simple question of who we want to fill the job as head of state, the Queen or our already reformed and democratized Governor General".

Policy analyst and political science author Randall White, PhD agrees.

"Australia lost their 1999 republican referendum mainly because they couldn't agree on the selection formula of the new head of state", he says. "Here, we resolve that issue in advance so that, for instance, when the Queen's reign ends and Canadians are faced with the prospect of Charles III becoming the next King of Canada, a simple Yes/No question in a quickly arranged referendum could be all it takes for the public to decide if this is the direction Canada should take."

The time period of 150 days for Parliament to act on the committee's recommendations (from April 2, 2004) was interrupted by the general election in June and thus, a real possibility exists that the issue may not receive the attention it deserves in the House of Commons. Consequently, CCR will be lobbying all Members of Parliament to help make sure it's addressed fully.


Copyright Citizens for a Canadian Republic