Time to promote Canada, not Queen, on holiday
Toronto, ON, May 20, 2004 - Canada's republican movement, represented by the two-year old group Citizens for a Canadian Republic, thinks it’s time the May 24 statutory holiday be revamped to better reflect Canada's values.
"Many Canadians have no idea why we celebrate Victoria Day," says Tom Freda, National Director of the non-partisan, not-for-profit group.
"Some think, as the name implies, that it's a celebration of Queen Victoria. Actually, it's the official day to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's birthday which, to make it even more confusing, isn't really on May 24 at all, it's on April 21".
"Instead of a day designed to heap idolatry on our un-elected, non-resident head of state", Freda adds, we think it should celebrate Canada and its accomplishments as a nation".
The group proposes that Citizenship Day, which has unofficially been held on the Friday before Victoria Day since 1958, be designated a statutory holiday and moved a few days ahead to May 24 (or the Monday preceding May 25). The new holiday would recognize Canada's Citizenship Act, which came into being on January 1, 1947, and celebrate the privileges and rights of being a citizen. Prior to 1947, Canadians were regarded as British subjects and the legislation is widely regarded as a pivotal symbolic step toward Canadian independence.
The events of Citizenship Week, which is officially held October 15 through 21 could then be incorporated into the new national holiday celebrations of Citizenship Day. The Queen's birthday should be celebrated as a non-statutory holiday, logically, on its correct day, April 21.
To launch the campaign for a May 24 Citizenship Day, CCR member Ashok Charles will be demonstrating his personal disapproval of one flaw of the current Oath of Citizenship; the reference to the Queen. In a Victoria Day Ceremony at the Ontario Legislature grounds in Toronto, Mr. Charles will be recanting the portion of the Oath of Citizenship that he took when he became a Canadian citizen in 1977 in which he swore allegiance to "Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and successors". To acknowledge his allegiance to Canada, he will then reaffirm his commitment to the remainder of the oath that requires him to fulfil his duties as a Canadian citizen.
Since CCR also believes Canada’s citizenship oath should reflect the democratic ideal that our allegiance should be to our country and its laws and not to any one person, it’s supporting his unique personal statement fully.
Mr. Charles, who hopes his action will prompt an examination of our values in regards to democracy and citizenship, has both personal and civic reasons for the recantation.
"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".
"On a broader scale", he adds, "I believe officially sanctioned subjugation to a foreign monarchy is actually detrimental to the spirit and prospects of our modern democracy".
Mr. Charles will be joined by a select group of executive and members of Citizens for a Canadian Republic at the recantation ceremony. The public and media are welcome.
DATE Monday, May 24, 2004 (Victoria Day)
TIME 11:00 AM
LOCATION The front lawn of the Queens Park Ontario Legislature building. Free parking for the holiday only is available at the front and rear of the legislature building.
Refreshments will be provided.
~ 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.
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