31 May 2012

Constitutional nonsense from The Star

"Award-winning journalist" Bob Hepburn spouts off on a subject on which he is ill-informed: The Queen: three steps for Canada to replace the monarchy.

For most of her reign, the Queen has been a symbol of stability, dedication and continuity.
But with her reign nearing an end, the time is right for Canadians to start the process of cutting our formal ties to the British monarchy, an outmoded institution that dates back to the days when Canada was a British colony. . . .
A three-step process should be considered. First, Ottawa should hold a national referendum on a Yes-or-No question: “Should Canada sever ties with the British monarchy?” A simple majority would be sufficient to proceed further.

Hepburn badly needs a refresher course in this country's constitutional history. Our governors general have not represented the British Crown since 1931, when the Statute of Westminster established the constitutional equality of the what used to be called Dominions (now Commonwealth Realms) with the United Kingdom itself. Canada retains no ties whatsoever with the British Crown. The Queen is Queen of Canada in her own right, as she is of her 15 other Commonwealth Realms. More from Hepburn:

In the 21st century, it is unfathomable that Canada, a modern, multicultural nation that champions diversity, still tolerates having a foreign queen or king as its head of state.

Apart from the fact that the Queen is by no means foreign to Canada, Hepburn fails to unpack what he appears to think is an obvious connection between diversity and multiculturalism on the one hand and Canada's status as a constitutional monarchy on the other. Whatever he thinks it is, it is not evident to everyone and requires a reasoned defence.

While we're on the subject, C. G. P. Grey explains to us the "True Cost of the Royal Family." Whether we Canadians reap any of these financial advantages is questionable. We certainly can't reap the same benefit from tourism that Britain can. Nevertheless, it does help to put things in perspective.

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