Toronto, ON - Sept. 24, 2002 - Citizens for a Canadian Republic, a non-profit organization launched in April of this year to promote a Canadian head of state, has filed an application to intervene in the legal case to challenge the legitimacy of the monarchy in Canada. The unprecedented court case, O’Donohue v. The Queen, was initiated last year by former Toronto politician, Tony O’Donohue, to contest the Act of Settlement. The archaic British legislation, enacted in 1701 to restrict the throne to Protestants, was inherited by Canada in 1867and to this day legislatively prevents Roman Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims or anyone not a Protestant from becoming Canada’s head of state.

The case "could change Canadian history "because of its potential to have the centuries-old rules for determining who becomes monarch declared unconstitutional in Canada", said Tom Freda, National Director of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, who also sees his group’s involvement as an opportunity to expose the monarchy as an imperial relic long overdue for replacement.

Freda contends that the three-century-old act contravenes Canadian law. Section 15(1) of The Charter of Rights and Freedoms expressly forbids discrimination on the basis of "race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability".

The federal government, which has not so far disputed the discriminatory nature of the legislation, is fighting the case on the grounds that O’Donohue, who is a Catholic, is not in line to the throne and thus, has no standing to proceed with legal action. In fact, the Crown contends, since no Canadian is eligible to contest the throne, Canada’s constitution is not being compromised.

"If we value our constitutional rights in this country", argues Freda, "this can't be allowed to succeed".

"The mere fact that the bigoted act is law in Canada is completely out of step with Canadian sensibilities and to accept it as such, regardless of whether there’s an immediate victim, is completely reprehensible. Despite the questionable logic that it’s OK for Canada’s head of state to be exempt from our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada’s reputation as a tolerant, progressive nation is at stake," he adds.

Mr. O’Donohue agrees.

"The Act of Settlement has stained our Constitution. You can't have the Charter on one side and the Act of Settlement on the other."

The legal proceedings continue in Toronto on October 18, 2002.



Copyright © 2002 Citizens for a Canadian Republic