Quotations from notable Canadians supporting a republic 

Often, one hears the monarchist myth that republicanism is a "fringe issue" or has failed to generate any substantial interest among Canadians. If you've seen our page on Canadian public opinion polls, you already know that theory is simply not true. To supplement that data, we've compiled this list of prominent Canadians who are on record as being supporters of ending Canada's constitutional link to the monarchy.

It's important to note that while these quotations may not seem so radical today, many of the people listed here spoke up at a time when it was not quite so permissible.

For instance; monarchist outrage resulted in CBC TV host Joyce Davidson being taken off the air for a comment made in 1959. She had to get police protection due to threats, her children were tormented at school, and with no one willing to hire her, had to leave the country to get work. Quite literally, she was banished from the country for her views.

Also, more recently, monarchists led a merciless campaign against Industry Minister and Deputy Prime Minister John Manley in the late 90s and during a royal visit in 2002, simply for saying Canada should 'eventually' have its own head of state. The resulting negative press most assuredly cost him in the race to become leader of the LPC -- despite an opinion poll at the time revealing 58% of Canadians agreed that "The Queen and the Royal Family should not have any formal role in Canadian society. The royals are simply celebrities and nothing more."

So our thanks to these trailblazers who led the way. History will prove they were visionaries who helped Canada evolve out of its colonial trappings and into the future.

A

Warren Allmand Former member of parliament & cabinet minister, LPC

"In my bill [to remove reference to the Queen in the Citizenship Oath], it says that we ask people to pledge allegiance to the Canadian Constitution... My bill does not abolish the monarchy. Perhaps I would like to do that sometime, but that's not what this bill does." Hansard Oct 29, 1996

B

Perry Bellegarde Former Assembly of First Nations national chief

"The monarchy resists [answering for the systematic racism and colonialism] because its very existence and survival is built upon the oppression it benefited from throughout its shameful history." Toronto Star, Mar 13, 2021

Michael Bliss (1941–2017) Professor of History, University of Toronto, Author, Order of Canada

"It’s an absurdity that in 21st century Canada, no Canadian can aspire to be head of state of Canada." National Post, Jan 21, 2011

C

Andrew Cohen Founding president of the Historica-Dominion Institute, professor of journalism and international affairs at Carleton University.

"Now, in a new century, ... Canadians should not shrink from continuing, if not completing, their journey to independence. In making the governor general Canada's head of state, we will create a worthy institution inspired by Britain, but made in Canada." Ottawa Citizen, July 2, 2011 

"The next, natural step is to dissolve our ties with the monarchy. This should happen on the death of Queen Elizabeth, when we should make the governor general Canada’s head of state." Ottawa Citizen, Jan 14, 2020

John J. Conway (1916-1995) Academic (Professor of Humanities, York University, Professor of History, Harvard University)

"Whether treated as an alien or fraternal symbol, the British monarchy has stunted imagination and discouraged initiative." The republican option in Canada, past and present. p18, Pt 1, 1999   

Deborah Coyne Lawyer, co-founder of the Canada for All Canadians Committee and the Canadian Coalition on the Constitution, federal candidate in Toronto-Danforth in 2006, federal party leadership candidate 2013. 

"When we look for a unifying symbol with which all Canadians identify, it is certainly not the monarchy, .... It is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms." Charter Day Commentary (April 2013) - What it means to be Canadian 

David Culver (1924-2017) Former CEO, Alcan Aluminium Inc., Order of Canada 

"The more I think about it, the more I like the idea. Becoming an independent republic within the Commonwealth would be about the right place for us." Macleans Magazine, The time has come to declare a republic, Dec. 11, 1995

D

Joyce Davidson (1931-2020) CBC and CTV television personality

"Like most Canadians, I'm indifferent to the visit of the Queen." [ ... ] “We're a little annoyed at still being dependent."  NBC Today with Dave Garroway, June 18, 1959 

Herb Dhaliwal Former member of parliament & cabinet minister, LPC 

"It's clearly the way to go [ending the monarchy]. There's an historic inevitability to Canada's reaching full independence." Globe and Mail Dec, 1998 

Peter Donolo Political strategist, former prime ministerial advisor LPC, former consul general, lawyer

"It would all be almost comfortingly predictable. If it weren't so maddeningly provincial; a G7 nation behaving like a colonial outpost. And a reminder of some unfinished business: that, despite all the strides we've made in 135 years of nationhood, despite our standing at the front ranks of the nations of the world, we still have a foreign monarch as our head of state." Macleans Magazine, Oct 21, 2002 

Ken Dryden Former member of parliament LPC, lawyer, businessman, author, former NHL goaltender

Columnist Lawrence Martin wrote: "Ken Dryden reveals he wants to dispense with the monarchy [... ] "absolutely." It needs to happen and will happen because of the growing "awareness and understanding of what it is we really are." The country without the Queen, without colonial vestige, fits Ken Dryden's vision of Canada as "The Global Society."" Globe and Mail April 2, 2006

E

Amira Elghawaby Human rights advocate, Director of Strategic Communications and Campaigns, Canadian Race Relations Foundation

"The best way to right [the “wrongs” of its colonial history] is for countries like Canada to remove the Queen as its head of state." Toronto Star, Mar 13, 2021

F

Will Ferguson Author, humourist,  recipient of Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humor

"Royalty exists only through an act of willful ignorance on the part of their subjects. Call it a suspension of common sense." Why I hate Canadians, 1997

Allan Fotheringham (1932-2020) Author, journalist, broadcaster

"There it is for the poor, ignorant rest-of-the-world [the NY Times on proroguing parliament], who will now know that it isn’t even a Canadian citizen who is the final proprietor of the sanctity of Parliament, but a messenger who is responsible to a queen who lives in a castle across a large ocean." National Post 12/11/08   

"She is a fine, fine woman, doing a magnificent job of being queen, but she is not mine. She belongs to Britain. I live in Canada [ ... ] and what my country does not need is a foreign queen." Macleans Magazine, June 27, 1977

"Is it not apparent to any reasonable person that the irrational umbilical cord to a foreign queen remains and will always remain a major irritant in the struggle to keep Quebec within this country? That is reason alone to jettison the anachronism." Macleans Magazine, June 27, 1977

Robert Fulford author, journalist, broadcaster, and editor

"As long as the heart is strong and reason weak, [Walter Bagehot] argued in the 19th century, monarchies will remain strong. [ ... ] This fact has always baffled and dismayed those people who look for an increasingly rational society. In a time when science increasingly governs our lives, we seem to give more and more allegiance to a crown which is a remnant of prescientific times [ ... ] and it is just that snobbish, aloof, undemocratic quality which maintains the mystery of royalty in 1962." Macleans Magazine, This Fortnight, The conspiracy that supports the crown, August 25, 1962

G

Ken Gray Journalist, columnist, editor, broadcaster

"I stumble over the fact that Canada has a Queen, for that institution doesn't reflect the country I know. Canada is not British anymore, but rather wonderfully independent with its own institutions and culture while the Queen is vaguely colonial." Ottawa Citizen, Oct 11, 2010  

 Lorne Gunter Journalist, columnist

"But it [the monarchy] is seen by Canadians - and rightly so - as increasingly irrelevant. Charles, as king, would only accelerate the drift apart. Before that day arrives, it would be smart of us to debate a made-in-Canada alternative." National Post, Dec 22, 2010

H

Meryam Haddad Montreal immigration and refugee lawyer, 2020 candidate for GPC leadership

"I personally do not believe in the monarchy and think that we should eventually get rid of it." Green Party Leadership Race: Views on the Monarchy, Canadian Monarchist News, Sep 1, 2020

Bob Hepburn Journalist, columnist

"[I] wonder why Canada, which claims to be independent, keeps marking the birth of a long dead British queen who never set foot on this soil, yet doesn't have a single national holiday to honour a Canadian. [It] is time to stop calling it Victoria Day, a sad vestige of British colonialism... Countries change, as Canada has. Such bowing and scraping to Britain seems archaic now." Toronto Star, May 15, 2008 

"The truth is the British monarchy has become completely irrelevant and no longer has a place in 21st century Canada. " Toronto Star, May 19, 2021

Paul Heinbecker Former Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations

"Fealty to the British monarchy is an anachronism and a drag on Canadian foreign policy that confuses many and delivers little."   constitution.ca, Rethinking Canada’s place in the monarchy, June 25, 2014

"The monarchy hurts Canada’s standing in the world. It’s time to let go." The Globe and Mail, July 1, 2014

I

Michael Ignatieff Academic (Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, University of Toronto), author, journalist, former Member of Parliament, Leader of the LPC & Leader of the Opposition

“Instead, as in all Commonwealth democracies like ours, I swore an oath to Her Majesty the Queen and her heirs and successors. The ‘heirs and successors’ part stuck in my throat, since I think we ought to decide, when the current Queen dies, whether to continue to acknowledge her family as our sovereign." Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics (Memoir) 2013

K

Janice Kennedy Writer, columnist"

"At 143 years of age, Canada embarrasses itself by still playing the adolescent... It is time to move on. We can keep celebrating our history and that part of our heritage that is British... We can stay in the Commonwealth. But in the meantime, it really is time to say goodbye. It really is time to grow up." Ottawa Citizen, July 8, 2010

Thomas Klassen Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration, York University

"A homegrown head of state is the gentlest kind of evolution because simultaneously nothing would change and yet much could change. Creating a Canadian head of state with no ties to the British crown would require only the elimination of a few words from the Constitution. Governments would operate as before. All powers presently entrusted to the monarch would be conferred to the new role of Governor General. However, at the same time, Canada would still have a head of state who reflects the nation — a symbol of unity and integrity, and a reminder to the government in power that its rule is only temporary. The Conversation, York University, January 24, 2021

L

Laurier LaPierre (1929-2012) Former senator, broadcaster, journalist, author, Order of Canada

"The sooner we put an end to this monarchist system ... the sooner we will accept the Governor General as the real head of state." Ottawa Citizen Oct 8, 2009

Jack Layton (1950 - 2011) Former member of parliament & party leader NDP, leader of the official opposition

"It depends on what you mean by "Canadianized." If you're talking about the governor general becoming the official head of state, I'm all for it." In a 2004 conversation with CCR national director Tom Freda

M

Roy MacGregor Journalist, columnist

"It had been somewhat presumed in Canada - even more so in Australia - that once the beloved Queen goes, so, too, should the unloved Prince and the whole archaic, colonial, goofy idea of a monarchy in which males count for more than females and Roman Catholics count for nothing." Globe and Mail, April 6, 2009   

John Manley Former member of parliament  & deputy prime minister LPC, lawyer

"Personally, I would prefer an institution after Queen Elizabeth that is just Canadian. It might be as simple as continuing with just the Governor General as the head of state in Canada. But I don't think it's necessary for Canada to continue with the monarchy." CTV, Oct 6, 2002  

"I think that Canada is mature enough as a country to have a truly Canadian head of state." Globe and Mail, May 18, 2001

Sergio Marchi Former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Minister of the Environment, Minister of International Trade, Canadian ambassador to the World Trade Organization, and Chairman of the WTO's ruling council.

The Monarchy has become obsolete. It lacks relevance for a modern society. From a nation-building and sovereignty perspective, it’s time to move on. Our flag, anthem and Constitution are now a great source of pride, although they once were a source of conflict. Over time, freeing ourselves from the monarchy would also be seen as a powerful symbol of our nation’s independence.

Let’s have all parliamentarians elect our governors general, so they would serve as a true head of state, not some messenger of a queen or king in the UK. This would strengthen the position and would represent a made-in-Canada-for-Canadians model. It would also be more democratic; currently the prime minister alone appoints the GG. Policy Options, "Eight ways to make Canada’s political system better" March 12, 2020

Lawrence Martin Journalist, columnist

"Canada's 150th birthday in 2017 isn't that far away. For big dreamers, the realization of national projects to mark the occasion stir the imagination. One, ... is a final break with our colonial vestiges. The creation of an independent republic of Canada. Nothing less than a new identity to replace whatever the old one was." Globe and Mail, Nov 4, 2009   

Pat Martin Former member of parliament NDP

"This is as good an argument [cost of royal visit] as I have ever heard for a republic of Canada. It's time for us to get rid of the monarchy and grow up." SunMedia Nov 25, 2009   

Sean McCann (1935-2019) Actor

"[I] never, ever toast the Queen as Canada's head of state." National Post, Nov 16, 2004 

"[The monarchy] really doesn’t have any relevance to the average Canadian." Toronto Star April 15, 2011   

Edward (Ted) McWhinney (1924-2015) Lawyer, academic specializing in constitutional and international law, former member of parliament LPC

In his book 'The governor general and the prime ministers: the making and unmaking of governments,' McWhinney suggests phasing out the monarchy when the Queen's reign ends by not proclaiming a successor. 

"The Office of the Queen would thus remain in the Constitution, but inactive and, like very many other historically spent sections of the Constitution Act, wither away and lapse by constitutional convention." Vancouver Sun Apr 17, 2005   

Rick Mercer Comedian, television personality, political satirist

"Look, Canada is 147 years old, and we still pledge allegiance to a family that lives in a castle in England? No hard feelings, nothing personal. It's time we grew up." Rick Mercer Report, Nov 17, 2009

"We're not British people any more. It's time to get the Queen off our money and turn this place [Rideau Hall] into a big park." This hour has 22 minutes Oct, 1997

Thomas Mulcair member of parliament & former party leader NDP

"When the current Queen dies, it will be "time for Canada to grow up," [Pat] Martin said. He quickly added he wasn't sure whether that was the position of the NDP or just himself. But deputy leader Thomas Mulcair, sitting at Martin's side, said he agreed." Winnipeg Free Press Nov 16, 2010

N

Peter C. Newman Journalist, author, Order of Canada

"Canada will only survive if we make large changes quickly—which is why we ought to ditch the British monarchy. [ ... ] , becoming a republic could give meaning and excitement to the constitutional process. [ ... ] The only remaining step is to withdraw from under the sway of the hereditary Windsor family and name our own head of state, who would reflect our own, instead of imported, values." Macleans Magazine, The time has come to declare a republic, Dec. 11, 1995

P

Shree Paradkar Human rights author and columnist

"Another practice not required by the Constitution is that of new Canadians pledging allegiance to the Queen. Having to do so at the citizenship ceremony degrades an otherwise meaningful moment of reflection and gratitude. It’s humiliating for those who come from lands impoverished by British colonizers to find themselves now pledging loyalty to the very person who symbolizes the villainy that led to their ancestors sacrificing life and limb." Toronto Star, Mar 10, 2021

Alan Park  Comedian, television personality

"Having our politicians swear an oath to a foreign based corporation [the monarchy] ... is about as silly as placing your hand on your chest and swearing an oath to Kentucky Fried Chicken." CCR Victoria Day forum, Mar 18, 2009   

Charles Pascal Academic (Professor at OISE University of Toronto), former Ontario deputy minister

"It’s time to cut the cord, time for a referendum ... it’s time we developed a made-in-Canada approach [to the head of state] that is transparent and truly democratic." Toronto Star, Mar 6, 2011

S

Mitchell Sharp (1911 - 2004) Former member of parliament, cabinet minister, prime ministerial advisor LPC, Companion of the Order of Canada, declined appointee to position of governor general. 

"Canada should have its own head of state who is not shared by others. The Queen and her successors could then have a special place as head of the Commonwealth as well as queen or king of Great Britain. In that capacity, the monarch would be received with enthusiasm and acclaim by Canadians in all parts of the country, including places Queen Elizabeth is now reluctant to visit." Which Reminds Me - A Memoir 1994  

Alex Shepherd Former member of parliament LPC

"The sovereign should be "replaced by a uniquely Canadian head of state. It is time for us to grow up as a country." Los Angeles Times, April 26, 1996   

Jeffrey Simpson Journalist, columnist, author.

"Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Canada and sundry countries is 83 years old. God bless her, and long may she reign over us – after which Canada should cut its ties to the British monarchy." Globe and Mail, Oct 30, 2009   

Jagmeet Singh - Member of parliament, party leader NDP

"I'm a republican. I don't see the relevance of [the monarchy], and I don't think that most Canadians do."  CTV Question Period, Nov 4, 2018

David E. Smith Academic (Professor of Political Studies, University of Saskatchewan), leading authority on constitutional governance in Canada

"There is no longer any strong idea behind the Canadian monarchy and its representative in Canada. Left as it is, the monarchy will continue to atrophy. Canadians, who have often led Australia in constitutional change, would do better this time to follow the Australian lead, and adopt a minimal republican state, one that retains the essence of parliamentary government and changes only the way the head of state is chosen. Any reforms should take care to assure that those powers that still reside with the Sovereign should be transferred to the new head of state." Republican Tendencies, Policy Options, May 1999   

Keith Spicer Academic (Professor at U of T, York U, UBC, Sorbonne), founding director of the Institute for Media, Peace and Security, former chair/CRTC, former Commissioner of Official Languages, journalist, writer

"Why care if Canada is a constitutional joke abroad? Well, it feeds Quebec separatism [and] ... tells Canadian children every day, with each Queen-bearing dollar they clutch, that their country is not quite grown-up. Worst of all, it tells the world that we don't much respect ourselves." Ottawa Citizen, Dec 22, 2008   

William T. Stanbury (1943- 2011) Academic (Professor emeritus Commerce University of British Columbia)

"The old rhetoric and symbols in Canada, as remnants of the divine right of kings transliterated into the concept of a constitutional monarchy, are utterly inconsistent with the crucial idea that citizens are the ultimate authority in a democracy. [ ... ] How can the fundamental source of legitimate political power rest in the people if the people are effectively “subjects” of a foreign monarch? Thus, the symbol of the once-strong connection with Britain is today a mental shackle. How will Canadians ever be able to call their elected representatives to account when the language of fundamental institutions strongly suggest that they are subjects, not autonomous citizens who alone possess the moral legitimacy to create a government and to hold it accountable?" The Fraser Institute, 'Accountability to Citizens in the Westminster Model of Government: More Myth Than Reality' 2003

T

Walter Tarnopolsky (1932 – 1993) Judge, legal scholar, pioneer in the development of human rights law and civil liberties in Canada

"Both for the sake of keeping Quebec in Canada and for the sake of the just and egalitarian society that I think is our aim, Canada will become a republic within the Commonwealth."  Ukrainian Canadians, Multiculturalism, and Separatism: An Assessment, Multiculturalism - The Basic Issues p. 146 , 1978

Brian Tobin Former member of parliament & cabinet minister LPC, lawyer

“It‘s a little bit silly don’t you think? That in the world today, Canada has a head of state, somebody who is born in another country, [as] our Head of State. We can’t come to some other arrangement among ourselves? I don’t accept that, and I think it’s an appropriate time and I think the time is coming soon, we ought to make a change.” The Telegraph, Oct 28, 2009   

John E. Trent Academic (Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa, Fellow of the Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa), founding president of Dialogue Canada

[The monarchy] "is a hindrance to the development of Canada's political culture." The monarchy: for or against? / La monarchie: pour ou contre? A debate held by Cité Libre, Jan 17, 1996

W

Margaret Wente Journalist, columnist

"The truth is that the monarchy stands for much that has held Canada back. It embodies the triumph of inheritance over merit, of blood over brains, of mindless ritual over innovation. The monarchy reminds us to defer to authority and remember our place. In Quebec, the Royals are regarded as an insult." Globe and Mail, Oct 7, 2002

Y

Barbara Yaffe Journalist, columnist

"With Canadians feeling so negatively about the future king and expressing a growing fondness for the made-in-Canada governors general, Ottawa ought to be exploring options, however quietly and respectfully. Elizabeth is not going to give two years notice of her death. Harper should name a panel of constitutional advisers to provide advice on future options for the head of state." Vancouver Sun, Aug 15, 2010

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