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The Monarchy Debate in Canada

We cannot fix anything else, so how do we replace old Charlie?

I recently dropped a blog about the nature of monarchies, just prior to the coronation of King Charles. Here it is.I discussed why Monarchy continues to be attractive to so many people, and promised to follow up with a post about the Monarchy in Canada. Here it is.

I shall now blog about some business arising from the coronation, especially as related to Canada. The coronation ceremony was an interesting show. The net chatter about it was interesting.

The coverage from Canadiana Blather Corporation was mediocre. Often I understood more about what was going on that the CBC commentators. They seemed to block out any amusing or interesting aspect.

What did not happen was often as amusing as what did. Charlie has had trouble with leaky fountain pens, so there was some suspense while he was signing the coronation oath. He managed that with no problem on this occasion, showing his calligraphic skills.

Many people believe there is a conspiracy to hide members of the royal family who are in the royal doghouse, from the cameras. They get put behind objects such as a candle. Aha, this time Princess Anne fixed naughty Prince Harry, blocking his face from the camera with her big hat plume as King Charles marched past. Twitter, twitter.

I needed to look elsewhere than CBC for some explanations of details of the ceremony such as, what was Charles doing in that booth, and what it was with that woman in Greek costume walking in front of him. Part of the ritual is the King being anointed with holy oil over his heart, so this required a little privacy. Old Charlie wants us to know he is part Greek on his father’s side; his great grandfather had been a King of Greece.

The monarchy is thought to be not so popular these days. Yet two million people stood for hours in the pouring rain just to watch the procession go by. People flew in from halfway around the world just to stand there. They could have stayed home and watched it on cable.

This shows the kind of power the British monarch could exert if he ever decided to. He is seen as the source of legitimate power and the basis for law. He is seen as the only force in the country whose interest is identical with the national interest.

This is the big reason why monarchy has been such a persistent form of government down the ages. It is usually pretty effective and enduring, as long as the monarch is reasonably competent and honest, is not a merely an amoral warlord or money sucker.

Monarchy or other legitimate power also goes wrong when it is surrounded and impaired by an amoral oligarchy with contempt for the population. That is a problem with Britain, Canada, and most western countries now. This is also the big hazard to the British royals; not just to their institution but to their own safety.

Malignant forces which want to restructure the political economy to suit their purposes will have to neutralize, co-opt, discredit, or outright remove the monarchy. This is why I have little sympathy for the dipsticks who tried to use the occasion to do empty protests about various vague and trivial issues.

Of all the conflict and crisis going on in the world, their biggest problem is getting that diamond back in Africa. They pretend that the present monarch is personally responsible for things that happened centuries ago.

Of course, these kinds of people are being agitated and directed by dark forces. These are usually not flaky anarchist types plotting in cellars, not directly anyway. Nor are they libertarian twits honking over the net about how government interferes with their right to be socially maladjusted bullies and loners.

Behind these useful idiots are people who really want the power to impose themselves or their ideology on the world. They have huge resources for doing so. These are the people who see monarchy as something in their way.

Other power seekers would like to use the monarchy. They often try to surround the monarchy. Some noticed that throughout the ceremony, Charles was surrounded by Anglican clergymen. We could wonder if the event was to announce Charles’ power or to advertise theirs.

We know that Charles is already a little too surrounded by people with the wrong kind of ideas. We had the token black, Sikh, Moslem, and Hindu; all with their place in the ceremony. The worst thing was the Ukrainian blue and yellow carpet.

Charles is known as a proponent of the ‘climate’ agenda. However, he seems more like another of its dupes, rather than a perpetrator of it. He stops short of entertaining the deindustrialization and depopulation of the planet.

So there is the British Monarchy. Great Britain seems still to want it. Canada used to be famous as even bigger enthusiasts for British Royalty than the British. That support has greatly declined in recent years.

However, I have long noticed that whenever Canadians start talking about the absurdity of having a foreign king as our head of state, they get to the topic of what to replace him with and the discussion fizzles out. Like anything to do with government in Canada, when it comes to fixing anything, Canadians just do not want to deal with it. They just want the problem to go away.

I do not have the open space here to go into a history of the Canadian constitution, or to discuss the Canadian character. Very simply, the Canadian constitution was designed from the start to be impossible to amend without Mother Britain. That is what being a colony is all about.

The Canadian government has developed serious problems, especially since 1980. There is no way to change anything. Government remains oligarchic, not democratic, which inevitably means that powerful interests are gradually pulling the constitution apart.

If we want an alternative to monarchy, we would have to devise a way of choosing a head of state. Given the way our “Westminster” style government is set up, the main role of such an official would be to act as a deadlock breaker. This is what all the provincial lieutenants governor, the Governor General in Ottawa, and their ultimate boss in London really do.

In a way, this was a clever system. If we had a deadlock, it could be decided by the delegate of someone across an ocean, who has no personal stake in the matter, and can go home when his/her gig is done. The decline in support for monarchy in Canada seemed to begin when the British let the Canadian prime minister choose the Governor General.

Since then, we have not had any big political crisis requiring the head of state to act as a non partisan deadlock breaker. Federal governments have avoided the temptation to plant their own party operatives into the position.

The lieutenants governor in the provinces have got into more fun and games. They are supposed to disallow provincial legislation which contravenes the constitution and crosses whatever the federal government is doing. They have stopped doing that in recent years for no obvious reason.

In 1930s Alberta, Social Credit premier ‘Bible Billy’ Aberhart shut off the water and lights to the lieutenant governor’s residence to try to force him to allow legislation he wanted. In the 1950s, In British Columbia, ’Wacky’ Bennett’s Social Credit government was unexpectedly elected. The lieutenant governor refused to appoint him, leaving the province without a government for two months.

In Australia they have almost the same system as we do, with the same problems. In 1972, the the elected Prime Minister was doing things which were very popular but which the establishment did not like. The Governor General, ‘recommended’ by a previous government, staged what amounted to a coup and removed him.

The most obvious option for replacing the Governor General would be an elected president. Most commonwealth countries eventually did that. In the Canadian context, even that simple reform would be almost impossible.

First of all, an elected head of state would have more power than an appointed governor general. He/she would not be the prime minister’s appointee. The Prez would be much less restrained in intervening when a government does something ridiculous, like try to stack the supreme court or send weapons and trainers to openly Nazi governments. 

The lieutenant governors would also have to be replaced with elected but still mostly ceremonial officials. I wonder what they would be called; governors, prefects, lieutenant presidents?

Elected officials means election campaigns. Each party machine would try to get its candidate elected. Given the nature of provincial politics, these offices will likely become partisan prizes and the holders will act in partisan ways.

There are many details which would have to be worked out about the relationship between federal and provincial heads of state. The lieutenant governors were supposed to act as a check on provincial governments. Such a check is very obviously needed. The lack of such a check is a very big problem with government in Canada.

Creating elected heads will require a constitutional amendment. To repeat, the big problem with Canadian government is that there is no effective means of amending the constitution. Somehow, the very bad and wrong idea got going that the consent of the provinces is required to amend.

I am unable to fully unravel how this nonsense got going. It was cemented in place by the 1982 so called ‘repatriation’ of the constitution. The British had the idea that since Quebec had to consent to certain things, then all the provinces had to agree.

It would have been much better to have let the constitution lie until the British could be convinced that this idea was not going to work. Or, to simply declare unilaterally the power to amend. What would the British do, reoccupy Canada?

The thing is, in Canada provincial governments are provincial. That is putting it very charitably. Most provincial political establishments have developed the idea that intergovernmental relations are about grabbing as much power as they can from the federal government, without regard for the stability or viability of the country as a whole.

It is not hard to imagine how most of the provinces will react to any initiative to replace the monarchy. They will want to know what they are going to get in return. They will also be very hostile to giving up their lieutenant governors for an elected official whom they cannot control.

Thus it seems there is little chance of Canada losing the monarchy any time soon, no matter how much the Canadian public is tired of it. It is not entirely Canada’s fault; mother Britain helped make a mess of our constitution.

That would partly be due to Britain no longer sending its own people over here to be Governors General. They are no longer informed of Canadian politics by their own people. They did not understand the consequences of the ‘protect provincial rights’ idea.

There is something bold old King Charlie could do to end this deadlock. He could decide unilaterally that he does not want to be King of Canada anymore. Canadians would then be forced to find an alternative to the monarchy.

We might in this country finally have some bold solutions to the immobility we have been stuck in for the last seventy years.

9 responses to “The Monarchy Debate in Canada”

  1. If you want to do something about unearned privilege, then get real. Do not set up easy scapegoats.


  2. I am English mostly but grew up in the Appalachians in North Georgia with Scotts-Irish and Cherokee. Don’t understand why there is still a monarchy. I understand the United States government, but most of what you wrote about your government I don’t understand. Only vaguely. But interesting. I suggest the provinces, starting with British Columbia become states of the US. BC could join first. When California, Oregon and Washington leave the US to form their own county, British Columbia would be right there with them. A perfect fit.

    I always thought we had problems with the way our government is set up, but now I see we are not alone. Good luck with that!


    • I always thought the main problem the US had was that the South lost the Civil War. Slavery would have faded away quickly because of external pressures but the resentment felt by the South and the Jealousy of the North in the wake of the Civil War made it two Countries in fact if not in name. The North was always going to be an entirely different culture because it had all the tools for industrialisation.


      • Problems are changing now. We have conflicts between urban and rural. The South has some large cities, Houston, Miami, Dallas, Atlanta, Charlotte. The demographics are also changing with different ethnic groups gaining power. There is also large states against the small states in population, not area. That has lead to disproportionate representation in the senate and in the electoral college. We are more of a country made up of different nations/cultures more than one national. A constitutional federal republic.


      • Immigration was initially essential to the US,but like Europe,the Immigration that has taken place since 1930 has only damaged what was a burgeoning self reliant populace.


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