Good evening everyone, my name is Tom
Freda and I'm National Director of Citizens for a Canadian
Republic. Let me begin by thanking everyone for being here. I
see a few new faces - some I understand from as far away as
Ottawa and the Niagara Region - welcome to you and to everyone.
I'd also like to welcome our very
special guest this evening, former Chairman of the Australian
Republican Movement and Campaign Director of the 1999 referendum
for an Australian head of state, Greg Barns. Greg is very
well-known in Australia and is extremely kind for volunteering
for this event. We're eternally grateful for that.
By the way, at our table, we were just
discussing the 1837 Rebellion and what escaped mention was the
fact that many of the captured rebels were found guilty of
treason and deported to the penal colony of Australia. So I like
to think that perhaps many of the descendants of those patriots
could be Australian republicans today, and as such, Canada can
take some small credit for the gains that Australian republicans
have made in their quest for an Australian head of state.
Now of course you all came here to hear
Greg speak and not me so I'll keep my introduction brief. But
since there are a few new people here, let me begin by giving a
little backgrounder on CCR and what we stand for.
Citizens for a Canadian Republic is a
registered non-profit, non-partisan organization. We began last
year around this time to represent and speak out on behalf of
the growing number of Canadians who, put simply, believe itís
time that Canada had the right to choose its own head of state.
Let me add to that by saying that despite being labeled an
anti-monarchist organization (yes, there are anti-monarchists
among us) - what we are more accurately is a pro-Canada
organization, made up of patriotic Canadians who arenít afraid
to say they are patriotic Canadians - a trait that thankfully
seems to be more and more prevalent these days.
But people occasionally ask me,
"Why do you hate the Queen"? or "What have you
got against the Queen"? I say nothing, really, and I mean
that - organizationally speaking. Itís true, many of you may
have observed, sometimes conspicuously, that we donít insult
the Queen or the Royal Family or even jump all over their much
published antics - using it to justify ending our relationship
with the monarchy. Instead, we believe itís important to
remember that the Queen and her family are, after all, merely
people and a family similar in many ways to yours and mine. We
think that exploiting these situations for our gain detracts
from the real issue, the underlying cause of why Canada still
has a foreign head of state in this twenty first century - and I
should add, our real target - our constitution which has
entrenched the monarchy as an integral element of our nation.
Our fight therefore, is with the Canadians who insist that this
outdated and irrelevant system must be perpetuated and thatís
where our message is directed.
We believe weíll win this fight for
the hearts and minds of Canadians because common sense and time
is on our side. Yes, Canada WILL become a republic and each and
every one of you can say that you were there and helped Canada
become a better nation for all its citizens.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, our
Greg Barns was National Chair of the
Australian Republican Movement from 2000 - 2002. He was also ARMís
National Campaign Director during Australia's 1999 referendum.
Greg is a lawyer and writer - he
graduated in law and arts from Melbourne's Monash University in
1984 and practiced at the Victorian bar from 1986 - 1989. He
worked as a senior political adviser for a number of federal and
state premiers and ministers, culminating in holding the
position as Chief of Staff to the Australian Finance Minister
from 1996 - 1999.
He lives in Hobart, the capital city of
Tasmania, and has just completed a book to be published by
Cambridge University Press in October on the Australian Liberal
He writes for a number of Australian
newspapers and has been published in South Africa, New Zealand,
the UK, USA and Canada.
He is also a leading advocate for
better treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.
Ladies and gentlemen ..... Greg Barns