Canada's republican movement, represented by the two-year old
group Citizens for a Canadian Republic, thinks itís time the
May 24 statutory holiday be revamped to better reflect Canada's
"Many Canadians have no idea why
we celebrate Victoria Day," says Tom Freda, National
Director of the non-partisan, not-for-profit group.
"Some think, as the name implies,
that it's a celebration of Queen Victoria. Actually, it's the
official day to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's birthday which,
to make it even more confusing, isn't really on May 24 at all,
it's on April 21".
"Instead of a day designed to heap
idolatry on our un-elected, non-resident head of state",
Freda adds, we think it should celebrate Canada and its
accomplishments as a nation".
The group proposes that Citizenship
Day, which has unofficially been held on the Friday before
Victoria Day since 1958, be designated a statutory holiday and
moved a few days ahead to May 24 (or the Monday preceding May
25). The new holiday would recognize Canada's Citizenship Act,
which came into being on January 1, 1947, and celebrate the
privileges and rights of being a citizen. Prior to 1947,
Canadians were regarded as British subjects and the legislation
is widely regarded as a pivotal symbolic step toward Canadian
The events of Citizenship Week, which
is officially held October 15 through 21 could then be
incorporated into the new national holiday celebrations of
Citizenship Day. The Queen's birthday should be celebrated as a
non-statutory holiday, logically, on its correct day, April 21.
To launch the campaign for a May 24
Citizenship Day, CCR member Ashok Charles will be demonstrating
his personal disapproval of one flaw of the current Oath of
Citizenship; the reference to the Queen. In a Victoria Day
Ceremony at the Ontario Legislature grounds in Toronto, Mr.
Charles will be recanting the portion of the Oath of Citizenship
that he took when he became a Canadian citizen in 1977 in which
he swore allegiance to "Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs
and successors". To acknowledge his allegiance to Canada,
he will then reaffirm his commitment to the remainder of the
oath that requires him to fulfil his duties as a Canadian
Since CCR also believes Canadaís
citizenship oath should reflect the democratic ideal that our
allegiance should be to our country and its laws and not to any
one person, itís supporting his unique personal statement
Mr. Charles, who hopes his action will
prompt an examination of our values in regards to democracy and
citizenship, has both personal and civic reasons for the
"On a personal level", he
says, ''I simply do not have the slightest shred of allegiance
to Queen Elizabeth, or to her heirs and successors - and I don't
think, to be a good Canadian, that I need to".
"On a broader scale", he
adds, "I believe officially sanctioned subjugation to a
foreign monarchy is actually detrimental to the spirit and
prospects of our modern democracy".
Mr. Charles will be joined by a select
group of executive and members of Citizens for a Canadian
Republic at the recantation ceremony. The public and media are
Monday, May 24, 2004 (Victoria Day)
The front lawn of the Queens Park Ontario Legislature building.
Free parking for the holiday only is available at the front and
rear of the legislature building.
Refreshments will be provided.
~ Bill C-18 was introduced October 31,
2002 and, among other revisions, would have replaced "I
will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen
Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and
Successors" with the same phrase with "Her Heirs
and Successors" deleted. On November 8, 2002 it went
through second reading and dropped from the order paper.
~ Bill C-203 was introduced October 2,
2003. It would have amended the act of citizenship to better
define the responsibilities of Canadian citizenship and delete
reference to "Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and
successors." On December 2, 2002 it went through
second reading and dropped from the order paper.
Present Canadian Citizenship Oath