Celebrating Canada’s Monarchy

July 31, 2012

In 2012 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee – sixty years as Queen of Canada. Only one of her predecessors, her great-great-grandmother, Victoria, reigned for as long (1837-1901). There are celebrations, commemorative events and tributes planned throughout the year.

Some may suggest the time has come for Canada to cut ties with the monarchy, that as the Constitution was repatriated in 1982 it is now appropriate for the head of state to also reside in Canada and be solely Canadian. However it would appear her critics don’t understand the unifying aspect the Queen has in Canadian society or her constitutional role. The monarchy is something we can all share, all have in common, all respect, whatever our background.

Canadians of all ethnic backgrounds and origins can understand the importance of the monarchy as a national symbol. Elizabeth II has been a sterling example for all in her sixty years on the throne, a true leader of her people. The symbols of the monarchy are a constant reminder of Canadian history, from the Queen’s image on our coins to the recent restoration of the “Royal” designation to Canada’s Navy and Air Force.

The monarchy though is not just pomp and ceremony from Canada’s past, but an important aspect of Canada’s present. The Queen’s authority, through her designate the Governor General of Canada, includes being Commander-in-chief of our armed forces and delivering the Throne Speech to Parliament. Of greater importance is that she must assent to all legislation passed and has the power under Section 56 of the Constitution to disallow any legislation (though that power is rarely exercised by the monarch). It gives very subtle checks and balances to an admirable democracy that all powerful presidential systems do not have.

I think the monarchy is important to Canada.

What do you think?