Toronto, ON - Oct.
9, 2002 - Citizens for a Canadian Republic, the
organization that seeks to have a Canadian replace the Queen as
Canada’s head of state, says Deputy Prime Minister John Manley
is being unfairly chastised for doing what any other free
society takes for granted, namely, speaking his mind about his
country’s institutions without fear of persecution.
"The Queen is our head of
state," says Tom Freda, National Director of CCR. "Why
should anyone fear speaking out about that position and its
relevance to Canada simply because she’s on Canadian
"If the Queen was solely the head
of state of another country," Freda adds, "then
perhaps there’s an argument for avoiding any comments that
could possibly cause controversy. However, since she’s our own
head of state, one could reasonably argue that she’s
technically not really a ‘guest’, she’s just travelling
to a different part of her realm, and as such, her position
should be open to such comments without accusations of being
insensitive to the Queen or disloyal to Canada."
"If she lived here year round like
most nations' heads of state, would anyone really care about
these remarks?" he questions. "I seriously doubt
"The British don’t wait until
the Queen is traveling abroad to criticize the institution of
the monarchy behind her back, they do it in her presence without
the slightest hint of her being offended."
Freda cites two factors for the
reaction; "One reason for this is the ‘take no prisoners’
attitude of a vocal minority of monarchists who fear encroaching
republicanism and feel it must be stopped, even if it means
limiting free speech. The other is the general difficulty many
Canadians have differentiating between the personage of ‘The
Queen’ and the institution of ‘The Monarchy’. They are
separate entities", he points out, "and a comment
about one should not necessarily mean that it applies to the
"Manley went out of his way to
compliment the Queen personally," Freda says.
"Unfortunately, all some people heard was the criticism of
the institution and equated that with a personal attack on the
Freda is quick to point out that Mr.
Manley’s comments have translated into a groundswell of
requests for information about his organization - which is in
the midst of a membership drive - from both the public and the
media. "This is a subject that has long been neglected in
Canada," he said. "It's extremely encouraging to see
this kind of interest."
According to Greg Barns, Chair of the
Australian Republican Movement from 2000 to 2002, this should
come as no surprise, as they experienced the same phenomenon in
1992, when then Prime Minister Paul Keating made a similar
pronouncement during a Royal tour.
"The events are amazingly
similar," said Barns by telephone from Australia.
"Canadians should know about the implications this kind of
support will have. Keating’s promotion of the republic issue
from 1992 onwards resulted in support for an Australian head of
state rising from 35 percent to around 60 percent - where it is
During an Australian Royal tour in
February 1992, Mr. Keating made a speech in which he indicated
that the British monarchy held little relevance for most
Australians, and that while the Queen was always welcome in
Australia, the nation would one day become a republic.
In comparison, the latest poll results
compiled in Canada between October 1 and 3, 2002 show 48 percent
of Canadians prefer to have a Canadian head of state replace the
Queen when her reign is over.
In another similar event earlier this
year, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, a staunch
republican, refused to return early from an overseas trip to
greet the Queen on her arrival in New Zealand.
In a later interview, Clark is quoted
as saying, "I think it's inevitable that New Zealand
will become a republic. I mean, we're 12,000 miles away from
where the head of state resides. How does any of that make
sense? New Zealand should be looking at moving from a head of
state based in London to something uniquely New Zealand."
She returned home in time to greet the
Queen for the official part of the Royal visit and host a state
dinner at parliament.
Although the incident and remarks were
generally a non-issue for the average New Zealander, according
to Dave Guerin, President of the Republican Movement of Aotearoa
New Zealand, "The whole thing was a storm in a teacup –
it only annoyed the sort of people who wanted to be offended,
like the opposition leader."