Republicans to protest allegiance to Queen in Citizenship Oath
New citizens will recant oath to Queen and reaffirm loyalty to Canada
Toronto, May 19, 2005 - The Toronto chapter of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, the organization promoting patriation of the office of head of state, will be conducting its second annual Victoria Day Weekend protest of the outdated Citizenship Act on this coming Saturday, May 21 at 11 AM. The event, which was covered last year by all major news networks, will again be held at the Ontario Legislature grounds. The weekend is chosen because Victoria Day is Canada's official celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's birthday.
CCR member Ashok Charles, a Canadian citizen since 1977, will be leading the ceremony on the front lawn of Toronto's Queen's Park, where he'll recant the portion of the Oath of Citizenship that declared his allegiance to "Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and successors". To acknowledge his allegiance only to Canada, he'll then reaffirm his commitment to the remainder of the oath requiring him to fulfil his duties as a Canadian citizen.
Mr. Charles hopes this symbolic action will prompt an examination of Canadian values in regards to democracy and citizenship.
"On a personal level", he says, ''I simply do not have the slightest shred of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth or to her heirs and successors and I don't think, to be a good Canadian, that I need to".
"I also find it deeply disturbing that, in the 21st century, Canadians are still stuck with a non-resident, British monarch as Head of State", he adds. "As a progressive, independent nation, Canada deserves much better".
Among others, Charles will be joined in this action by Richard Gonsalves, another new Canadian who's equally offended by the oath.
"I delayed becoming a Canadian Citizen for twenty-seven years because of the oath", says Gonsalves."I found it very distasteful to swear allegiance to a foreign monarch. I finally decided to take the oath with fingers crossed and then proceed to fight to have it changed".
According to CCR's National Director, Tom Freda, "It's a major embarrassment that Canada hasn't yet dealt with this relic of colonialism. Australia took care of it twelve years ago. It's time for Canada to take action as well.
"We believe it’s unacceptable that we subject new Canadians to declaring an oath to Queen Elizabeth II and not Canada and its laws," he adds. "People who are born in Canada don’t have to do this to be a good citizen, why should we expect it of people who are coming here to start a new life? They believe they're arriving in a country where equality is entrenched in a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, yet are immediately faced with swearing allegiance to someone who is supposedly not their equal and constitutionally above the law. We are clearly not sending the right message to immigrants with this oath and a new Citizenship Act is needed to reflect new realities."
- Present Canadian Citizenship Oath - 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, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.
- Australian Citizenship Pledge (Revised in 1993 to delete reference to the Queen) - As an Australian citizen, I affirm my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I uphold and obey.
RECENT ATTEMPTS TO REVISE THE CITIZENSHIP ACT
- Bill C-18 was introduced October 31, 2002 and, among other revisions, would have replaced "I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors" with the same phrase with "Her Heirs and Successors" deleted. On November 8, 2002 it went through second reading and dropped from the order paper.
- Bill C-203 was introduced October 2, 2003. It would have amended the act of citizenship to better define the responsibilities of Canadian citizenship and delete reference to "Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and successors." On December 2, 2002 it went through second reading and dropped from the order paper.
- University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review - The Citizenship Oath, the Charter, and the Conscientious Objector
DATE Saturday, May 21, 2005 (Victoria Day weekend)
TIME 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
LOCATION The front lawn of the Queens Park Ontario Legislature building. Free parking is available at the front and rear of the legislature building.
SPEAKERS Guests will be political science author Randall White, civil rights lawyer and UN war crimes tribunal investigator Charles Roach, former Toronto city councillor Tony O'Donohue and CCR National Director Tom Freda.
ENTERTAINMENT Toronto DJ 'Ivy' will be also be on hand to provide music. Refreshments will be provided.