Why Canada Needs the Crown
Cost of the Crown
|“A president would likely be more expensive—look at the proportional costs of the White House and Elysée Palace! There may be arguments for a republic, but cost-saving is not one of them.” (Source Here)|
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 popular 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, constitutional monarchy is of particular importance. It makes Canada unique in the Hemisphere. Its focus of loyalty and allegiance to a respected monarch, and so to our system of governance, rather than to a politician, an ideology, a symbol or a single document, underlies the notably tolerant, mature society which is a source of pride for all Canadians.
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
sort of debate is both inevitable and healthy in a vigorous democracy.
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 as head of state embodies all Canada and all Canadians. The monarchy protects and exemplifies the things Canadians agree about, and remain constant, regardless of an election: community, tolerance, nationhood, the rule of law. And by presiding at events such as the Montréal Olympics and Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill, The Queen emphasizes the non-partisan, unifying nature of great national occasions.
Parliament and the provincial legislatures are composed of The Queen and elected
members — along with the Senate in the case of the federal government. However,
no bills, no formal government regulations ("Orders-in-Council") or 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. Also in her name, public officials and diplomats are appointed, treaties approved, and cabinets commissioned and dismissed. Normally, this is a formality. Canadians entrust the nuts and bolts of governing to those whom they 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 Alberta political scientist Frank MacKinnon has put it — should normal democratic processes ever break down or be threatened. For example, even a popular government cannot simply dispense with holding an election.
Canada is a federal state. In short, this means that our Constitution gives
law-making power in certain areas to the national government, such as the
Criminal Code and foreign affairs. Other powers, such as education and municipal
affairs, it assigns to the provinces. 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 such as "The
Queen in right of Canada" or The Queen in right of Manitoba".
The premiers, including the separatist René Levesque, underlined the importance of the Crown in their 1978 statement, above, since the monarchy gives authority to each law-making entity, 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 identity with national unity.
Oaths taken by our new fellow Canadians, by MP’s and members of 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 to a politician, those who serve us and live in the land show their ultimate loyalty is not to elected figures, but to all Canadians and to the laws that make up the fabric of our 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.
The deepest loyalties of women and men 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 Canadian gives allegiance to The Queen, so reciprocating her decades of service to all Canada.
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 most of the constitutional functions of the Sovereign in her name. This arrangement allows our country to share in the traditions of an ancient monarchy stemming out of Canada’s history, while at the same time we enjoy the services of distinguished fellow citizens — think of Major-General Georges Vanier, Lincoln Alexander, David Lam and Lynda Haverstock, to name but a few — who serve Crown and country with great distinction.
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 the
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 or 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. So it is no surprise that 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, as did unprecedented crowds during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill during her 24th homecoming in 2010.
Canadians have lived for over 150 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 women and men
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’ Human Development Index, which regularly ranks Canada in the top five countries in the world.
Change is inevitable, and much of it good: cell phones, computers, social media. 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 have voted in 20 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.
Myths about the Monarchy Here