Arguments in support of Parliamentary Monarchy
Argumentos en inglés y francés, elaborados por la Liga Monárquica de Canadá, que ilustran muy bien los altos valores y las virtudes de la institución monárquica frente al republicanismo.
Para contrarrestar los repentinos ataques a la Corona española por el desliz verbal de S.M. el Rey, invito a todos a reflexionar un poco sobre la justificación de querer abolir de repente una forma de estado que da mil vueltas a la república. Los argumentos son válidos para cualquier Monarquía europea o de origen europeo.
Arguments in Support of Canada's Constitutional Monarchy
FORCE FOR NATIONAL IDENTITY: THE KINDER, GENTLER NATION
“It is my privilege to serve you as Queen of Canada to the best of my ability, to play my part in the Canadian identity, to uphold Canadian traditions and heritage, to recognize Canadian excellence and achievement and to seek to give a sense of continuity in these exciting, ever-changing times in which we are fortunate enough to live."
Her Majesty The Queen, Vancouver, October 7, 2002, during cross-country Golden Jubilee Homecoming
A central reality of Canadian life is the inevitably overwhelming influence of our friendly neighbour, the United States of America. Free Trade. Continental defence and secure borders in a post- 9/11 environment. A porous frontier ranging from television and the Internet to pop music and culture. These and other factors often tend to overwhelm Canada’s national identity. Every nation needs to understand and foster the existence of distinct images and institutions; thus for Canada, the Constitutional Monarchy is of particular import. It makes Canada unique in the Hemisphere. Its focus of loyalty and allegiance to a respected monarch rather than to a politician, an ideology or a symbol underlies the notably tolerant, mature society of which Canadians feel proud.
UNIFYING, NOT DIVISIVE: HEAD OF STATE vs HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
" [The Queen} symbolizes for many the merits of a constitutional monarchy in which the head of state...is separate and apart from the ongoing political struggles of the day."
Bill Blaikie, MP, (NDP) speaking in The House of Commons, Jubilee Accession Day, February 6, 2002
In a democracy, day–to-day decisions are made by those whom we have elected. Not surprisingly, this partisan political process reflects the things that divide Canadians. It encourages striving for partisan goals and personal success. This is inevitable.
However, Canada’s Constitution separates politics from service, and transient popularity from institutional stability. So the Prime Minister is our head of government and leader of a political party. As such, his actions are often controversial.
The Sovereign, however, is a force of unity who embodies all Canada and all Canadians as Head of State. The Monarchy protects and exemplifies the things Canadians agree about, and do not wish to see changed regardless of an election: community, tolerance, nationhood, the rule of law. And by presiding at events such as the Montreal Olympics and Canada 125, The Queen emphasizes the non-partisan, unifying nature of great national events.
PARLIAMENTARY MONARCHY: GUARANTOR OF FREEDOM
"Our ceremony today brings together Sovereign, Parliament and people - the three parts of Constitutional Monarchy. That is a system in which those who represent the community come together and remain together, rather than dwelling on differences which might further divide them."
Her Majesty The Queen, Ottawa, 1990
Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures are composed of The Queen and the members elected to serve - along with the Senate in the case of the federal government. However, none of the bills they pass , no formal government regulations (“orders-in-council”) and no spending is authorized without the agreement of The Queen or one of her representatives.
In a similar way, Parliament is summoned and dissolved in The Queen’s name. In her name also public officials and our representatives abroad are appointed, treaties concluded, and cabinets named and dismissed. Normally, this is a formality. Canadians entrust the nuts and bolts of governing to those whom we have elected, as is appropriate in a democracy.
However, the Crown’s role (“the Royal Prerogative”) remains part of our Constitution to ensure that ‘the rules of the game’ are always followed, and to provide a non-partisan, non-violent safeguard - “a constitutional fire extinguisher” as columnist Michael Valpy has put it - should normal democratic processes ever be threatened or break down. For example, even a popular government cannot simply dispense with holding an election. Nor can a government spend public money without parliamentary approval.
NEUTRAL REFEREE OF FEDERALISM: THE UNITY OF ELEVEN “CROWNS”
"Provinces agree that the system of democratic parliamentary government requires an ultimate authority to ensure its responsible nature and to safeguard against abuses of power. That ultimate power must not be an instrument of the federal Cabinet."
Statement by the 10 Provincial Premiers at 19th Annual Conference, Regina, Aug 9-10, 1978
Canada is a federal state. In brief, this means that our Constitution gives law-making power in certain areas to the national government (such as the Criminal Code and banking). Other powers (such as education and municipal affairs) it assigns to each province. Each level of government exercises this authority on behalf of its citizens in the name of The Queen. So in this way it is possible to see the existence of “11 Crowns” in Canada - the national Crown and the 10 provincial Crowns - each usually referred to in legal terms as “the Crown in right of Canada” or “in right of Manitoba.”
The Premiers, including the separatist Rene Levesque, underlined the importance of the Crown in their 1978 statement, above, since the Monarchy gives each law-making authority its authority, making them of equal legal significance. It also guarantees that the rule of law will be followed in dealing with any of the many disputes that arise between Ottawa and the provinces.
These facts explain the strong support by the provinces for the institution of Monarchy, which reconciles regional authority with national unity.
PERSONAL ALLEGIANCE: PROCESS, NOT PARTISANSHIP
"Her Majesty remains at the head of the State, the living symbol of the roots and continuity of the values we hold in common and those that are our permanent ideals...She is the one entrusted with the conscience of the nation..."
Fr Jacques Monet, SJ, author, historian and former Cultural Advisor at Rideau Hall, writing in Canadian Monarchist News, Autumn 2002
Oaths taken by our new fellow Canadians, by members of Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures, by judges, by members of the Canadian Forces and by many other public officials are all oaths to The Queen.
By making this promise to the Sovereign rather than a politician, those who serve and live in the land show their ultimate loyalty is not to the elected figures who lead us day-to-day, but to all Canadians and to the laws which make up the fabric of any civilized society. In this way process - following the rule of law - triumphs over partisanship - acting to promote the well-being of a narrow segment of society.
INDIVIDUAL ALLEGIANCE: THE EQUALITY OF EVERY CANADIAN
"...our ability to love inclines most naturally to persons, and in the person of The Queen we can invest all those many fractured loves that make up patriotic love: love of country, love of nation, love of culture, love of land, all combined and channeled through one person, one family..."
Southam Press columnist Andrew Coyne, April 10, 2002
The deepest loyalties of men and women are to their fellow human beings. Government carried on in the name of The Queen reflects Canada’s emphasis on the importance of the person, and of the dignity and equality of each individual who is either born here or who becomes part of our national family. In the same way, the moment new citizens take the Oath of Citizenship they become full and equal members of the Canadian family. Each of us gives Allegiance to The Queen, so reciprocating her decades of service to us.
WORLD FIGURE: REPRESENTED BY HER CANADIAN TEAM OF GOVERNORS
"We're able to have the best of both worlds. We have the stability and the tradition of the monarchical system, but we also have a Canadian representative in the Governor General, who represents Canada as it is, as a Canadian, and does an incredible job representing the Monarch, but also all Canadians."
Hon. David Collenette, Minister of Transport, May 18, 2001
Canadians are fortunate to have as our Monarch an instantly-recognizable world figure. The Queen and members of the Royal Family make frequent homecomings to Canada. In their absence, the Governor General (for the national government) and the Lieutenant Governors (one for each provincial government) represent The Queen and perform the constitutional functions of the Sovereign in her name. This arrangements allows our country to share in the prestige of an ancient monarchy stemming out of Canada’s history, while at the same time we enjoy the services of distinguished fellow citizens who serve Crown and country with great distinction.
REFLECTION OF HISTORY: ABORIGINAL, COLONIAL, NATIONAL
"Every country is different, and we grew up in this one with the Royal Family as part of our heritage."
Hockey great Wayne Gretzky, GM Place, Vancouver, October 7, 2002
Today’s Monarchy stems from our history. Many of Canada’s First Nations chose tribal chieftains whose role was much like that of the local kings and queens of ancient Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. European explorers and subsequent settlement by our French and British founding peoples brought to Canada their own experience of monarchy, symbolized by the Fleur de Lys and the Royal Union Flag. Many subsequent immigrants - be they from Russia or Japan, from Italy to Thailand - also knew the monarchical system of government.
In 1867, the Fathers of Confederation unanimously chose constitutional monarchy as Canada’s form of government. In 1982, Canada’s new Constitution reaffirmed and entrenched the Crown so that only unanimous federal-provincial agreement could ever alter it. In 2002, throngs hailed The Queen as she crossed Canada from Iqaluit to Fredericton, from Victoria to Toronto, in celebration of the 50th year of her service to this nation.
LINK TO TODAY’S CANADA: COMMONWEALTH MIRRORS OUR DIVERSITY
"I want the Crown to be seen as a symbol of national sovereignty belonging to all. It is not only a link between Commonwealth nations, but between Canadian citizens of every national origin and ancestry... I want the Crown in Canada to represent everything that is best and most admired in the Canadian ideal. I will continue to make it so during my lifetime. I hope you will all continue to give me your help in this task."
Her Majesty The Queen, Toronto, June, 1973
Not only Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II is also Head of The Commonwealth of Nations. This is a 51-state international body is unique as it is based not on a military alliance nor a trade bloc but on a free association amongst countries of the former British Empire, who now cooperate in a variety of educational, development and social justice initiatives throughout the world. The diversity of these nations’ populations - from New Guinea to Belize, from New Zealand to India - mirrors the rich strains of population which typify Canada today.
EVOLUTIONARY SOCIETY: CANADA PROSPERS UNDER THE CROWN
"Fifty years after her accession to the Throne, Elizabeth II remains a symbol of continuity, stability and tradition in a world that is under a barrage of constant change...a Sovereign, faithful and loyal to our people...The Queen and the heritage she gives to us is not just part of our past, but part of our common future...When you're a mature country, you don't need to break your ties with the past."
Hon Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage, launching Federal Golden Jubilee Initiatives and speaking to National Post, Ottawa, February 19-20, 2002
Canadians have lived for over 135 years in a tranquil, prosperous society. Unlike most countries, change has been incremental, and not achieved by violence. Much of the credit for this achievement is due to the men and women who have worked together to create a modern, progressive nation, respected around the world.
However, no country can achieve greatness without stable governance. Constitutional monarchy - the Canadian way - continues to provide that stability. This is confirmed each year in the United Nations’ Social Development Index, which regularly ranks Canada in the top 5 countries in the world.
STABILITY IN A CHANGING WORLD
"I have a considerable regard for The Queen and the monarchy although I'm a New Democrat and a socialist. I think that the monarchy has validity at a time when everything else is flying off in all directions... I admire her stubborn refusal to break down and take the easy way, to conform with the constantly changing public image of how our leaders should act."
Author Farley Mowat, September, 2002
Change is inevitable, and much if it good: cell phones, jet travel, computers. But in this dizzying march to progress, constant change leaves many uncertain or confused. In the same way, political leaders come and go - Kim Campbell and John Turner served as Prime Minister for but a few months. Canadians voted in 18 federal elections during The Queen’s reign ! It is a good thing that the Crown provides constancy amidst so much change. The Sovereign has the experience of decades, without the taint of a personal agenda. Such continuity constitutes an important anchor in our society.
COMMUNITY, VOLUNTEERISM, HONOURS
“In a world often focused on self-indulgence, on "my" desires and "my" priorities and "my" agenda, The Queen's focus on the "we" and the "us" and on tolerance and getting along with each other, and on the needs and interests of others, has served as antidote, example and inspiration."
HRH Prince Michael of Kent, addressing Golden Jubilee Banquet of the Monarchist League of Canada, Toronto, March 15, 2002
In their constant round of travels, The Queen, members of the Royal Family and her Canadian representatives bring enormous encouragement to the communities and volunteer sectors which constitute so vital a part of our national existence. They inspire many to volunteer service. They create and award non-political honours to our outstanding fellow citizens.
These Royal and vice-regal activities do not often feature on national news programmes. Opening a new library, visiting a Legion Hall, speaking to a school civics class or lunching with a local service club are not on the media’s radar. But they constitute the basis of any civil society, and bring enormous pride and assistance to Canada’s communities.
REPUBLICANISM: DIVERSION, BLOW TO NATIONHOOD & VICTORY FOR THE POLITICAL ELITE
“But for all those who don't want the Queen there are easily as many who don't want a President and even more who certainly would not want one if they knew who it would be. As you can readily see, I have given more thought to this subject than most and I have reached my own conclusion. God save the Queen."
Dalton Camp, political columnist, August 23, 1994
No one has yet proposed an alternative system of government for Canada which would in the same way reflect our nation’s history and be superior to the constitutional monarchy in terms of the day-to-day functioning of the Canadian state.
Canadians remember the wrenching constitutional debates which consumed enormous political energy from the mid-1960's through the early 1990's. Chiefly of interest to politicians, these arguments did nothing to effect solutions to the real concerns of our citizens such as crowded classrooms and emergency rooms, access to health care, personal and national security in an era of terrorism and crime, support for single-parent and low-income families.
A presidential system would make Canada more closely resemble the USA. It could combine the role of head of state with head of government. As our American friends discovered during impeachment processes in the Nixon and Clinton administrations, this proves an unhappy combination. Alternatively, election of a president or governor-general would create simply another politician, offer another level of personal ambition, necessitate another set of elections and make the holder of that office beholden to the interests of the different factions and groups to which his election was owed.