The World Forum - June 16th, 2024

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Canadians want to drop the Monarchy but what would come next?


Is it time for Canada to cut the apron strings with the motherland that is Great Britain?

Most of us could go through our daily lives without giving two thoughts to the idea that Canada has ever had anything to do with the United Kingdom, well other than the Queen being on so much of our money.

However, a new poll found a growing majority of Canadians support the idea of cutting ties with Royal family after Queen Elizabeth passes on.

The Ipsos poll conducted earlier this month shows 60% strongly or somewhat agree with Canada dropping the monarchy — 25% say they strongly agree with this sentiment. That support is up from 53% who felt this way a year ago as Harry and Meghan were stepping back from royal duties and up from 44% in June 2011 when William and Kate married.

Of course, the question is, if we dump the monarchy what do we replace it with? A slight majority of Canadians, 51%, say, “I would prefer a republic system of government with an elected head of state, like in the United States.”

There are lots of positive elements to the American system, including better checks and balances on power compared to the way we have developed in the Westminster Parliamentary system in Canada. A majority government here means a de facto dictatorship and we just have to hope it’s benign.

In the American system, elected officials have more independence and don’t have to blindly follow what their leader says if their constituents disagree. I’d welcome more of that in our politics, too often smart people blindly follow bad ideas due to incredibly strict party discipline.

The big problem that I would have in switching to an American style republic is that it would reopen our constitution and Charter of Rights and at that point I worry too many in our chattering classes guiding the process would attempt to turn us into the People’s Socialist Republic of Canada. It’s not far off considering what academics and others would be pushing.

The beauty of the American Bill of Rights is that it spells out what the government cannot do to you, it limits government power via so-called negative rights. The ideas in vogue now are so-called positive rights, or what the government must do for you.

We would suddenly enshrine all kinds of rights that would mean governments were obliged to provide things to the citizens of Canada. If you think social programs are expensive now, wait until a slew of them, plus new ones, are enshrined in the new socialist charter.

All of which makes me a reluctant monarchist.

I’d love it if we could elect our head of state directly, choose one leader or party for that job and vote for another because the person was a good candidate and provides balance. I’m just not sure we could get there easily.

What I fear we would end up with is a government designed, behind closed doors, by a committee. That kind of design is always a bad idea.

Show me a good and clear plan and I’ll back it. But until then, God Save the Queen.