We should exercise caution in getting rid of monarchy
A graduate of the University of Toronto, Trevor Hutchinson is a songwriter, writer and bookkeeper. He serves as Contributing Editor at The Lindsay Advocate. He lives with his fiancee and their five kids in Lindsay.
With the Queen now buried, an argument that has gone on in Canada for decades will be rekindled and intensified: should Canada remain a constitutional monarchy?
An Angus Reid poll done in April 2022 showed that 51 per cent of Canadians supported doing away with the monarchy in the future. Only 26 per cent supported retaining the monarchy and 65 per cent of respondents were opposed to Charles being king.
It’s unclear how the former queen’s mourning period will affect those numbers, but it is now a fact that King Charles III is our new head of state. For any of us born after Feb. 5, 1952 this is only the second head of state we have ever experienced.
The idea of having a British sovereign, albeit with ceremonial function and powers limited constitutionally gives me cognitive dissonance. As an anti-elitist, I should abhor the idea of monarchy and the colonialism that it historically represents. Then again, visiting Buckingham palace as a kid (and adult) and watching the Queen’s Christmas address every year kind of made me a closet monarchist. I’m not sure that my “come Chuck and Die” drinking party for that ill-fated royal wedding back in my teenage years made me Monarchist League of Canada material, but the royal family has just always been a cultural touchstone for me. Being an Anglican kind of makes me have to embrace the monarchy, however half-heartedly. And if I’m really honest about it, I like things that make me, well, less American.
But the fact is that no matter what we feel about our sovereign, his super-sleazy brother or any of the royal scandals over the years, it would take a Herculean political effort to change our country from a constitutional monarchy. Abandoning the monarchy would require a successful vote in every province and at our federal House of Commons to change the constitution. And given the increasing political polarization in the country, who knows what other issues might get tacked to this by some grandstanding politician?
The formula to change the constitution does not require seeking input from the three territories nor from First Nations, Inuit and Metis. This too is problematic. Some Indigenous commentators are against the monarchy, the very symbol of colonialism. Other commentators note that some of the First Nation Treaties were signed between the Crown and the first nations, before there was ever a thing called Canada.
Whatever we decide to do as a country regarding the monarchy, this should be done with consultation and deliberation. Abandoning centuries of tradition because we think Charles was mean to Diana is just stupid. And given our seeming inability to agree on any issue, it is a discussion we should have cautiously.
God Save the King.