AUSTRALIAN SCANDAL EXPOSES FLAWED APPOINTMENT PROCESS

Toronto, ON, May 29, 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, is asking the public today to closely examine the current process for choosing our Governor General.

Tom Freda, National Director of the non-partisan, non-profit group says, "The recent resignation of Australia’s Governor General should be a warning that unless we reform our similarly undemocratic system of selecting our acting head of state, Canada could be facing a comparable fate".

Australian Governor General Peter Hollingworth, a former Church of England Archbishop, resigned on Sunday after an independent inquiry found that during his tenure as Archbishop of Brisbane, he allowed a pedophile priest to remain in the ministry. The fallout from a legal case initiated by a woman, now diseased, who alleged that Mr. Hollingworth raped her 40 years ago was also a factor in his decision. That case was dismissed last Friday.

According to Greg Barns, National Chairman of the Australian Republican Movement from 2000 to 2002 and National Campaign Director of the 1999 referendum, "The Hollingsworth saga could have been avoided if Australia had voted in the 1999 referendum to become a republic instead of voting to stay with the current system. In a republic the 'skeletons in the cupboard’ of any candidate for the office of President, such as those that emerged in the last 12 months about Mr Hollingsworth, would be revealed by a transparent and democratic election process".

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.

Canadian views on the role of the Governor General and the monarchy were revealed in an October 4th, 2002 Ipsos-Reid poll. It reported that if ties to the monarchy were severed, thirty-nine percent of Canadians would prefer a symbolic Governor General with limited responsibilities who is elected to become Canada’s new official Head of State. The same poll, taken on the eve of a Golden Jubilee Royal visit, also indicated that fifty-eight percent agreed that the Royal Family should not have any formal role in Canadian society and that they are simply celebrities and nothing more.

"Whether Canadians will prefer a directly or indirectly elected head of state is a question that will have to be addressed", says Tom Freda. "But the larger question remains; why does a nation like Canada, advanced in so many ways, still cling to an archaic and secretive appointment process where only the Prime Minister selects the Governor General?

"In light of the flood of Prime Ministerial appointments due later this year", he adds, "perhaps Canadians will be thinking about whether this is the kind of Canada they want".

 

Copyright © 2003 Citizens for a Canadian Republic