So the Queen is 96. A good age. Happy birthday, Your Majesty.
Her birthday once again prompts the usual question. Do we want to continue with the monarchy? Or is it time to move on from an archaic institution?
According to an Angus Reid survey, the answer is yes we want to keep Queen Elizabeth II, but rather few want to be genuflecting before King Charles III. Over half of Canadians support remaining a constitutional monarchy as long as the Queen reigns, but barely a third want Charles on the throne.
Canadians also support countries such as Barbados, which has cut the ties, and Jamaica, which has indicated its intention to do so. Over half say we, too, should eventually leave the royal fold.
It’s not so simple for us, however. Barbadians merely had to pass appropriate legislation. We, on the other hand, have this constitutional thing that would have to be changed. In order to remove the Queen as head of state, we would need unanimous consent in the House of Commons, the Senate and each of the provincial legislatures. Good luck with that. We all know what happens when we open the constitutional can of worms—every province has its own agenda. And keep in mind that Quebec has never signed the constitution, and indigenous treaties are with the Queen and would therefor need to be revisited. Some fun.
Nonetheless, it’s worthy of consideration. It seems a bit immature for an established democracy to still have an unelected head of state. And a hereditary one at that.
So if we did fire the monarchy, how would we choose our head of state. Barbados’ president is elected by either a joint nomination of the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition or if there is no joint nomination, a vote of both houses of Parliament. The president has essentially the same powers as the queen, a sound measure—we wouldn’t want a president wth the kind of power our neighbour to the south has.
Electing the head of state either directly or by elected representatives sounds appropriately democratic. However, direct election may politicize the position and the head of state should be neutral, a representative of all citizens. Perhaps the Barbadian approach will deal with that. Another suggestion is to have the president, if that is what he/she is to be called, elected by the members of the Order of Canada. One of the brightest and best elected by the brightest and best should produce a worthy head.
Anyway, something for Canadians to think about. The charming old girl is 96, after all.