3 min

About that monarchy resolution

Dear Young Liberals,

Having looked over your policy resolution about “severing formal ties with the British Crown,” I am overcome with a sense
of disbelief because I fear you don’t actually understand the constitution
of this country. You see, Canada has its own monarchy. It’s the Canadian Crown.
It’s a separate and distinct institution, and it is indeed “Made-in-Canada.” We
don’t actually have ties to the British Crown anymore. We share a monarch with
them, but it’s a separate institution. Therefore, your policy resolution as it
stands is a moot point, but more to the point, if you want to start mucking
about with the Constitution – as your proposal would demand – it might help to
actually know something about the Constitution that you plan to muck about
with. This policy resolution demonstrates to me that you have not grasped that

Now, this having been established, let’s
look at your individual points:

  • “WHEREAS Canadians believe in
    earning one’s position in life and not being simply born into privilege” –
    Which says nothing about the value of a representation of a thousand years of
    history, that we conflate the “privilege” of monarchy with the duty and
    responsibility of embodying the state at the expense of having a life, and it confuses the Crown as an institution with the royal family. It also
    says nothing about the value of having a neutral and disinterested representative
    of the state rather than one who is bound by partisan interests stemming from
    electoral concerns.
  • “WHEREAS our head of state
    should be a true representative of the People of Canada” – This is a facile and
    meaningless statement and borders on jingoism. Do you plan to also tell us
    who is and who is not a real Canadian?
  •  “WHEREAS Canada prides itself
    in being a democratic nation, with democratic institutions” – Again, Canada,
    being a constitutional monarchy, is a democracy. There is nothing inherently
    anti-democratic about having a constitutional monarch.
  • “WHEREAS foreign law bars
    individuals not of the Anglican faith from rising to the position of head of
    state of Canada” – True, the fact that we have a shared monarch means that we
    currently have a monarch who also becomes the head of the Church of England. It
    is a fair enough point, but we can change the succession in Canada and pick a
    different monarch if we would like. But remember that’s because it’s a
    Canadian Crown, and not a British one.
  • “WHEREAS Canada’s head of state
    should conform to Canadian laws of gender and religious equality represented in
    the Charter of Rights and Freedoms” – The gender rule is in the process of being
    changed, and religious equality . . . well, see above.
  • “WHEREAS Canadians pay more to
    maintain the monarchy than the British” – Untrue. You cite a 2009 Maclean’s article to prove this point,
    but the article adds in the costs of the governor general and the lieutenant governors of each province. Those are not actually the costs of maintaining the
    monarchy, nor do they add in the context of how much more expensive it would be
    to establish a republican system. The monarchy is actually very good value for
    money for Canadians.
  • “WHEREAS an unelected
    individual can and is prepared to supersede the will of the Parliament” – Which
    goes back to the point about constitutional monarchy. Such a statement ignores
    the value in having a neutral and disinterested party who can both maintain a
    stable government when Parliament is not functional and also hit the reset
    button when the elected head of government oversteps his or her bounds.

In all, your arguments are
overly simplistic with the role of the Crown in Canada and don’t touch on the
broader implications of what it would mean to turn this country into a republic.
It’s actually a big and wide-ranging issue that deserves a bit more thought
than just a pithy statement about heredity and succession rules that are in the
process of being modernized – because the Crown is actually a dynamic and
evolving system.

In speaking to Alexandra Mendes, one of the
candidates for party president, this resolution came up. She pointed out that the most progressive societies in the Western world are all
monarchies and asked how exactly having a monarch has hindered
Canada. It hasn’t.

I fear that you got caught up in
politicizing the role of the Canadian Crown thanks to some ham-fisted moves
that Stephen Harper made over the last year, but that would be a mistake, and it's a
trap you don’t want to fall into. In the future, I would hope you'll
think about such resolutions more clearly and won’t rely on untrue statements
or logical fallacies to make the case for republicanism in this country.

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