Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Not a good day to be a republican

Prince William and Kate Middleton: Canada's Future King and Queen

Well, it certainly wasn't a good day to be a republican in the Commonwealth yesterday.  During most of the day, media in this country and abroad were producing story after story about Prince William and Kate Middleton's engagement.  Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with online chatter about the future king and queen.  And, people in coffee shops and around the water cooler were commenting on how nice a couple William and Kate are.  Ah yes, nothing like a good ole' royal wedding to put people in a happy mood. 

Except, of course, if you're a republican...

Republicans now find themselves in one heck of a predicament.  How on earth do you counter the enormous spike in interest in the Royal Family, and in turn, support for the institution of the monarchy?
Faced with such an insurmountable problem republicans fell over themselves yesterday - clumsy stunt after another - to try to gather some attention in an attempt to stay relevant.

The republican groups in Australia and New Zealand were quick to offer their own congratulatory messages.  How sweet.  Too bad nobody paid much attention.  And, the republican group in the UK opted to focus on how much the royal wedding was going to cost British taxpayers.  As if the small expense incurred is going to bankrupt the country and ignoring the obvious economic benefits (not to mention heightened morale) that will ultimately result. 

The republican group here in Canada - with their whopping 90 members on Facebook - kept quiet.

Republicans insisted that the royal wedding is good for their cause. 

(I'll wait til you stop laughing at that one)

Then, things turned nasty.  Republicans flooded to their usual online forums to vent.  No rational debate.  No reasons given as to how a republic would actually be any better than a monarchy.  Just petty insults and grasping at straws.


November 16, 2010 was not a good day to be a republican.

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I'd like to thank everyone in the League who helped with media inquiries.  It was definitely a busy day - probably the busiest single day I have experienced since becoming chairman.  Your hard work and support is what drives our League and our cause.  Thank-you.

Until next time,

Robert / The D.C.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Hon. Barbara Hagerman, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island

Last week I launched a special series on my blog called Canada's Other Governors.  The first provincial vice-regal I will profile is PEI's Barbara Hagerman.

The office of the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island traces its roots back to 1769 when Walter Patterson became the first Governor of St. John Island (the former name of PEI) - weeks after the island was made a separate colony.  In 1873, Sir William Cleaver Francis Robinson became the first Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island after the colony entered Confederation.  The Lieutenant Governor's website includes an excellent walk-through-time gallery of the former vice-regals that have served the province.

The Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island's personal standard.

The present Lieutenant Governor is Barbara Hagerman.  Born in New Brunswick, Ms. Hagerman graduated from Mount Allison University, specializing in voice and organ.  After moving to PEI, she enjoyed a lengthy career in music and teaching before became The Queen's representative in the province on July 31, 2006.

In addition to her constitutional responsibilities, Her Honour has focused on the following four areas: The Arts, Multiculturalism, Youth, and Seniors.

Government House in Charlottetown, built in 1834, is the official residence
of the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island.

The Lieutenant Governor of PEI resides at Government House (commonly referred to as Fanningbank) in Charlottetown.  Islanders and visitors are encouraged to visit Government House during the Summer and also at the New Year's Levee when, by long-standing tradition, citizens may pay their respects to the Sovereign's representative.

For more information on Barbara Hagerman and the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island, be sure to check out the Her Honour's website.

Until next time,
Robert / The D.C.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Canada's Other Governors

The Lieutenant Governors and their spouses with the Governor General, 2008

Compared to their federal counterpart, the Governor General, provincial lieutenant governors are typically not well known (especially outside their own provinces), receive minimal media attention, and often assume office with little fanfare.  Yet, these ten provincial vice-regals play a pivotal role in Canadian governance and society in general.

So, I am pleased to launch a special series on my blog called "Canada's Other Governors".  Over the coming months I will blog about each of the ten lieutentant governors - touching on the rich history of each office and discussing the incumbants' past accomplishments and how they've helped shape their provinces and communities.  The goal is to tell their story.

* * *

The lieutenant governors are appointed by the Governor General, in the name of The Queen, on the advice of the prime minister, to represent The Queen in their provinces.  In this way, the vice-regal representatives mirror the country's federal system, underlining that the provinces are as potent in the exercise of their constitutional responsibilities as is the national government in its assigned jurisdictions.  It is an historic office, in a sense pre-dating that of the Governor General, as the earliest colonial governors - of whom Samuel de Champlain was first - in fact had responsibility for areas roughly corresponding to some of today’s provinces.

George Stanley (with his wife Ruth) served as Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick
from 1982-87.  He is also the man who designed Canada's national flag.

As with the Governor General, the lieutenant governors are appointed to serve "at Her Majesty's pleasure". However, in practice, vice-regal appointments are customarily limited to five years, unless the prime minister of the day recommends to that their time in office be extended.

The role of the lieutenant governors is both constitutional and social.  As representative of the Sovereign, they form a part of the provincial legislative assemblies, summoning and dissolving its sessions and giving royal assent to legislation in The Queen's name.  They must approve all actions ("Orders-in-Council") of the provincial executive councils.  Generaly, they preside over the provinces' individual honours systems, allowing the provincial orders and similar recognitions to carry the dignity and prestige of the Crown.  Socially, they lend their vice-regal patronage to a variety of causes and community events, ranging from the Scouts to prizes for academic and literary achievement, thus underlining the important role of the Crown in encouraging Canadians to give of their best.  Each lieutenant governor chooses several areas of special concern that serve to draw the attention of the population to causes ranging, for example, from Aboriginal reconciliation to youth and disability issues.

David Onley, seen here at the League's 2010 Accession Day luncheon,
has been a champion for accessibility during his mandate as Ontario's Lieutenant Governor.

Much of the most influential role of the Crown takes place in local communities, day to day, and often under the radar of the national media, through the constant round of vice-regal activities undertaken by Canada’s ten lieutenant governors.  Each represents The Queen in a way reflective of the province and of their own personal style.

Next week, we'll begin to meet Canada's Other Governors...

Robert / The D.C.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Thanksgiving and the Royal Connection

Monday, Canadians will celebrate Thanksgiving, a day "For general thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings with which the people of Canada have been favoured."  And, while most of us will mark the day by feasting on turkey and spending time with family and friends, I thought it would be worthwhile to share the Royal connection with our Thanksgiving holiday.

While the roots of Thanksgiving go back centuries, the first Thanksgiving Day holiday post-Confederation was actually observed on April 15, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.

Prince Albert Edward in 1860

The eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Edward contracted typhoid in the winter of 1871 and almost died.  His recovery was greeted with relief and was celebrated across the British Empire.  Canada celebrated the Prince's recovery with Thanksgiving Day.

That Canada's first Thanksgiving Day was to celebrate the Prince of Wales is quite appropriate.  In 1860, the Prince became the first heir to the throne to extensively tour British North America (and the U.S.).  That year, he laid the cornerstone of the Centre Block of Parliament in Ottawa, inaugurated the Victoria Bridge in Montreal, and opened Queen's Park in Toronto.

Statue of King Edward VII at Queen's Park, Toronto

Edward became King in 1901 following the death of Queen Victoria.  He reined for just over nine years until his death in 1910. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

Robert / The D.C.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

David Johnston: Governor General AND Queen's Representative

"I begin by saying thank you to Her Majesty the Queen, the Prime Minister and the Canadian people for this call to service. My wife and I accept it with joy - as we contemplate the role of Canada in the years ahead - and with gratitude at the opportunity to serve as the Queen's representative in Canada."  And, with these words, the Right Honourable David Johnston began his first speech as Canada's 28th Governor General. 

Yours truly had the fortunate honour of attending Professor Johnston's Installation Ceremony this past Friday.  Seated in the Senate chamber beside our Vancouver branch chairman Keith Roy, I was treated to a ceremony rich in tradition and symbolism.  But, one thing more than anything else stood out to me.  That was the numerous references to and praises for The Queen.

Whereas in the past, some have attempted to hide or downplay the fact that the Governor General is indeed the representative of the Queen of Canada, today there seems to be a real desire to highlight this consitutional reality.  This is one of the good things that came out of the whole head of state fiasco a year ago.

The royalty-friendly ceremony didn't go unnoticed by the media, either, as this piece in the Sun chain demonstrates.

How refreshing to know that the new vice-regal is no longer just the Governor General.  He's once again the Queen's Representative!

The Governor General's website contains an excellent photo gallery and video gallery of the Installation Ceremony.  Be sure to check them out.

Until next time,
Robert / The D.C.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Coming soon to a computer screen near you...

I am pleased to offer you a glimpse of the League's new soon-to-be launched website.  Designed by University of Toronto member John Gross, the new fully bilingual website will provide better functionality and navigation along with a fresh, contemporary look.

The new website is our 40th anniversary project and will be our key tool to recruit new members to our cause and to promote the role of the Crown in the 21st century.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Republicanism tanks Down Under

Canadian republicans insist that we should show our independence and follow the Australians in debating the monarchy.  Just how mimicking a country on the other side of the world makes us more independent is any one's guess, but hey!

However, what the minuscule Canadian republican "movement" always fails to mention is that republicanism in Australia is in steep decline and has been for quite some time.  This fact has once again been confirmed by a recent poll by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

This commentary by David Flint, the head of Australians For Constitutional Monarchy (ACM), explains that support for a republic in Australia has dropped to a 16-year old low - a dismal 44%.  In turn, support for retaining the monarchy is now nearing 50%.  With numbers like these, it is obvious why scared republicans are clinging to their failed strategy of putting off their republican push until after The Queen's reign.

My hats off to ACM, the Australian Monarchist League, and other Australian monarchists.  No doubt their education and advocacy efforts are producing positive results.  Republicanism sure isn't as chic as it used to be Down Under.  And, that will surely disappoint the republicans in this country, too.

Until next time,
Robert / The D.C.