Wednesday, June 16, 2010

But We've Always Done it That Way

Imagine if you will people arguing that women, aboriginals and other visible minorities shouldn’t have the right to vote, that blacks should ride in the back of the bus that some people are born better than the rest of us and it is just too much of a bother to change it all.

It’s ridiculous to expect any rational person to go along with that.

We’ve come so far in the last hundred plus years that these ideas are obviously backward, misogynistic, racist and just plain wrong. But that is the argument forwarded by Matthew Rowe of the Monarchist League of Canada in response to a survey that said 2/3 of Canadians believe that we should cut ties with the monarchy once Queen Elizabeth II’s reign is done.

When Mr. Rowe says that “Canada has always been a Monarchy” and that it is “part of who we are as a nation.” What he is really doing is yelling STOP! and trying to hold an entire nation hostage to a system that has been woefully out of touch with the ideals of a modern society for decades, and at odds with the facts of reality since the concept of hereditary rule was first dreamed up.

I am not arguing that the monarchy has not served a purpose within the narrow confines of the Canadian Government. Indeed the constitutional monarchy which is Canada has fared quite well for the last 143 years. Our government is stable and it works well for the most part, but Rowe and his ilk seem to claim that this is as good as it gets, that we as a country and a society ought to be satisfied with the institutions and processes that the Fathers of Confederation cobbled together in 1867.

I disagree.

A constitution is a living document and as a society evolves its constitution ought to evolve along with it. This is not to say that change ought to occur for changes sake, but that when false premises are corrected or better solutions become available, to cling to the old for the sake of rigid conservatism or expediency is a detriment to individuals and therefore to the country itself.

I would be much more willing to hear Mr. Rowe’s position if instead of complaining that we’ve always done it that way, he had merely said that the system works and has proven itself as viable as any other we might choose, but he didn’t. Instead he appeals to authority, emotion and collectivism.

Canada should separate politically from the English monarchy, what’s more is that we as Canadians should be demanding it.

There is no good reason not to. It is an anachronism and contrary to the principles of a liberal society to have an unelected head of state. A Canadian republic would be just as stable if not more so than our current constitutional monarchy. Democratic representation would be enhanced and the legitimacy of the post of Head of State (whatever we might call it) would be ensured through election.

Removing Canada’s ties to the Monarchy would necessitate significant changes in the constitution which would mean unprecedented debate on that same document, perhaps an almost complete rewriting of it.

Many within the establishment raise the fear that such a reworking would lead to the fragmentation of Canada as the Maritimes, Quebec, Central Canada and the western provinces all vie for their fair share and all seek to right perceived wrongs.

This is the boogeyman that has kept us bound to not only the Monarchy but to the best laid plans of 1867. More than tradition, more than simplicity, the fear of the dissolution of Canada has kept us Canadians from seeking our own way separate from historic institutions.

The truth is that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. If the singular act of choosing to evolve as a society is enough to destroy the Canadian confederation then I would argue that this nation is already dead and we might as well get it all over with now, rather than later.

2 comments:

Immanuel said...

Canada has a tradition of being a monarchy for over 400 years.
It was a French monarchy until 1759 and English colony until 1867.

Canada's independence has been gradual from Confederation in 1867 to Westminster Statute 1931, having Canadian citizenship in 1948 and finally the 1982 repatriation.

The Monarchy as the Head of State is just one representation of the Crown multilayer presence in Canadian society.
The Crown is present in the executive, legislative and judiciary branches.
The Executive is the GG who represents the Queen in Canada. The Cabinet and Privy Council are sworn-in serve the Crown.
The official opposition in Parliament is titled Her Majesty Loyal Opposition.
The crown is also present in our courts. We have crown attorneys.

Furthermore, first nations and aboriginals interact with the Crown because it is non-partisan and above politics.

There are also crown lands, crown corporations and so on.

Above and beyond the argument that the crown is deeply rooted in the constitution, the amending formula would not permit for the removal of the monarchy and change of political system. Smaller and less ambitious amendments have failed at Meech Lake in 1987 and rejected with the Charlottetown Accord in 1992.

Zip said...

Immanuel you are not telling me anything I don't know.

All of that is useless history.

The process and trappings of government are not what makes a country. A country is the sum of the society which is itself a sum of the individuals within it and the majority of Canadian individuals want this useless elitist anachronism gone.

We don't care how long it's been that way. Tradition is no reason, indeed it is anti-reason.

The amending formula does not disallow the removal of the monarch, indeed it doesn't say anything about the monarch, please, look it up.

In Canada since 1982 the constitution is sovereign, not the crown. Our elected officials and the Canadian people decide how it is to be constructed and how it is to be administered either through a 3/4 majority of the House of Commons or through referendum.

Adapt or die, that is the natural order. If Canada is so weak as to disappear for want of a better system of government then again, I say good riddance.