2004 Victoria Day Recantation of the Citizenship Oath of Allegiance to the Queen

Citizenship Oath rally at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto. Speech and ceremony by CCR member Ashok Charles
 
Thank you all for being here. After all, a recantation isn’t much good without witnesses. The obvious questions that arise are: Why did I take the oath in the first place and why am I recanting it now. I’d like to say that the only reason I took the oath was so that I could make a point by recanting it later, but the truth is less noble than that.

While we like to think of ourselves as citizens; among equals, in a modern democracy, I saw that we were also still just the subjects of an English Queen. Those we elect, democratically, to govern, for example, have no authority until they demonstrate their submission to the monarchy by swearing the oath of allegiance. We won’t grant immigrants the status of citizens until they do the same. This is an appalling state of affairs for a democracy.

I thought it would be interesting to do a comparison of international Heads of State, to see how ours, installed by virtue of her place within a particular British family- and nothing more- stacks up against those of countries which go to the trouble of electing theirs. One way to get a sense of a Head of State’s mandate is by considering their oath of office. The president of the United States, for example, swears, at his inauguration, that he will, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the American Constitution. This oath, requires that he work to “establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty  for the American people.

When the President of India was sworn in, he promised, likewise, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and to devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of India.

The president of Ireland swore that she would fulfill her duties faithfully and conscientiously in accordance with the Irish constitution and that she would dedicate her abilities to the service and welfare of the people of Ireland.

The Russian president pledged “to respect and uphold the rights and freedoms of the individual and the citizen.”

The German president promised to dedicate his strength to the well-being of the German people,  to protect and defend the Basic Law of the federation, and to ensure that justice was available to all.

The French President vowed to ensure that the principles of equality, liberty and fraternity guided the actions of his government.

Now, lets take a look at what our Head of State promised to do for us. In 1952, when Queen Elizabeth took the throne she pledged to “govern” us, according to our own laws and customs, with the one caveat that she would do her best to cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in her judgments.

So, we have a Head of State who has pledged, not to serve our interests, or protect our rights and freedoms, but to rule us and show us mercy. That’s not what I want from a head of state. And bad as it is, the Queen’s oath gets worse. She went on to promise to do the utmost in her power to maintain the Protestant Reformed Religion in the United Kingdom to preserve the settlement of the Church of England and its doctrines, and to preserve the rights and privileges of…….who? no, not the citizens, but the “Bishops and Clergy of England”.

And ours is the only head of state, among all those I’ve discussed, who demands an oath of allegiance from the citizenry.  I’d also like to point out that the queen has never seen fit, in 52 years, to recant any portion of her alarming oath.

The reason I’m here, recanting mine is because its time we finished with this silly game of bluebloods and serfs. Canada made the choice between democracy and monarchy long ago. Its time to fully acknowledge the ideal we chose by replacing the Queen as head of state with a Canadian, who we elect, democratically, on the basis of merit and accomplishment, to serve our interests, protect our rights and freedoms and give our modern democracy the representation it deserves on the world stage.

Now, the actual recantation. I will read and then seal my letter to Judy Sgro, our minister of citizenship.

To: The Honourable Ms. Judy Sgro, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jean Edmonds South Tower, 21st floor, 365 Laurier Av., Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1

Honourable Minister,

I became a Canadian citizen in 1977. Since then I have come to embrace my identity as a citizen, among equals, in a progressive, modern democracy.

On reflection, I have also recognized that the portion of the citizenship oath I swore, which pledges allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, and her heirs and successors, is incompatible with the democratic ideals I uphold.

It is my view that it is entirely inappropriate for Canada to require of its citizenry, allegiance to a monarch. I see this state-sanctioned subjugation as detrimental to our national spirit and to the fulfillment of Canada’s role, internationally, as an independent democracy.

In accordance with my principles and as a member of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, an organization dedicated to the installation of a Canadian head of State, I hereby recant that portion of my sworn oath which read “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors…”

I continue to wholeheartedly respect the remainder of the oath, which read “…and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”  

Sincerely,

Ashok Charles

(Applause)

 

Copyright © 2003 Citizens for a Canadian Republic