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
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.