I got another piece published on the front page of Canada.com in the “Real Agenda.” This time I argue that it’s time to due away with the monarchy.
It’s time to talk about abolishing the monarchy
The power of our Prime Minister’s Office has been growing in leaps and bounds since Trudeau sought to centralize the effectiveness of his rule. One of the few checks on the PMO is our beleaguered Governor General, yet the past few years have seen a precedent that not even he or she can stand in the way of the Prime Minister.
Coupled with the general disinterest in the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it is time that our politicians start discussing whether Canada should remain a monarchy.
In the recent Australian elections, Prime Minister Julia Gillard made headlines across the Commonwealth by declaring that it was her belief that once Queen Elizabeth II passes the throne along, Australia should become a republic and abandon the monarchy.
This statement is less shocking Down Under, where the debate about republicanism has been raging since a failed 1999 vote to replace the monarchy with a president elected by two thirds of the Parliament. The option failed to appeal to all republicans, yet still 45 per cent voted for a republic.
A December poll by Vision Critical revealed that a vast majority, 70 per cent, of Canadians are not interested in the upcoming wedding.
When the pollsters asked which system they would prefer to the monarchy, a plurality, 32 per cent, said Canada should establish its own elected head of state, while 29 per cent were indifferent. Only 21 per cent said Canada should remain a monarchy. (Eighteen per cent weren’t sure.)
More Canadians preferred “no monarch” after the Queen abdicates than either Prince Charles or Prince William.
Traditionalists will naturally disagree with me. Personally, I have little time for arguments about the value of doing things the same way they’ve always been done, since that is what has kept various forms of bigotry, from sexism to slavery, around for so long.
Furthermore, our increasingly pluralistic country ought not to be governed by the head of a church who derives her authority from a claimed blood lineage. This system hearkens back to days of a deep social divide between peasantry and nobility, when blasphemy was punishable by death.
The other argument routinely trotted out against abolishing the monarchy is that we risk centralizing more power in the already powerful PMO. Yet, as the failed Australian referendums demonstrated, this could allow Canadians the chance to put a new democratic check on the executive branch.
By establishing an elected Canadian president, we could have the chance to actually vote for who leads us, instead of electing a local backbencher.
Alternatively, we could retain the Governor General’s office as an appointment, but strengthen the position such that the prorogation crises could be avoided.
The monarchy is out of date for Canada, and it is time that we close this chapter on our history and work toward becoming the Republic of Canada.
Ian Bushfield is president of the B.C. Humanist Association and blogs at terahertzatheist.ca and canadianatheist.com.