DEBATE ON MONARCHY’S FUTURE MUST BEGIN NOW, SAYS REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT

Toronto, ON - May 14, 2003 - Citizens for a Canadian Republic, the organization advocating the replacement of the Queen as Canada’s head of state with one selected by Canadians, says it’s time to get the official discussion started on the future of the monarchy.

Advocating that perhaps the time has come for a Royal Commission, Tom Freda, National Director of the non-profit group says, "There are several good reasons for moving on this now".

"For one thing" he begins, "polls over the last decade have consistently shown nearly half of respondents want a Canadian as our head of state". Most recently, in a May, 2002 Ekos public opinion poll, 48 percent agreed and 35 percent disagreed with the statement, "Instead of a British monarch we should have a Canadian citizen as our head of state."

In comparison, on the eve of Australia’s 1999 referendum on the monarchy, a poll conducted by NewsPoll revealed that 59 percent were in favour of replacing the Queen with an Australian citizen as Head of State while 33 percent were against. The referendum failed only because a consensus could not be agreed upon for the replacement formula.

In reflecting on the comparisons between the two Commonwealth partners, Greg Barns, National Chairman of the Australian Republican Movement from 2000 to 2002 and National Campaign Director of the 1999 referendum says it’s a "ridiculous situation" that the two nations have "a head of state who represents no one's interests except Britain's and who visits Canada and Australia on average once every five to 10 years".

Greg Barns will be visiting Toronto on the evening of June 17 to address members and supporters of Citizens for a Canadian Republic about Australia’s republican movement, its future and what Canadians can learn from it.

As to why the issue of the monarchy must be addressed now, Freda adds another reason.

"I would expect even most monarchists would agree that when the time comes to deal with who should succeed Queen Elizabeth II as our head of state, that Canadians should have a say in who that should be. That’s an accepted fact, but is it really something we need to be gnashing our teeth over when the Queen is on her deathbed? The insensitivity of that is comparable to spoiled siblings fighting over the estate of a dying parent!"

Freda concedes that there is progress, albeit gradual, in addressing issues surrounding the head of state. For example, former Toronto city councillor Tony O’Donohue is continuing with his legal case against the Crown to address the 1701 Act of Settlement, which dictates that Canada’s head of state must only be a Protestant. O’Donohue argues the act is a contravention of Section 15(1) of The Charter of Rights and Freedoms which expressly forbids discrimination on the basis of "race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability".

In addition, there’s the ongoing campaign by Ontario MP John Bryden to delete reference to the Queen in the Oath of Citizenship. Recent revisions announced by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre have also added allegiance to Canada and deleted reference to the Queen’s "heirs and successors", indicating a possible government acknowledgment that her successor may not necessarily become Canada’s head of state.

 

Copyright © 2003 Citizens for a Canadian Republic