Converging Paths Canada and Australia vs. The Monarchy

Welcome address by Tom Freda, National Director, Citizens for a Canadian Republic - Toronto, June 17, 2003

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 guest:

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 Party.

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


Copyright © 2003 Citizens for a Canadian Republic