Friday, 30 October 2009

The First Twittered Royal Visit

When King George VI and Queen Elizabeth came to Canada in 1939, Canadians followed the first tour of a reigning Sovereign either in person, on radio, or in the newspapers. Flash forward to the 2009 visit of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. This Royal Homecoming, which starts Monday, will take place in a new information age with 24-hour news channels, online news sites, and emerging social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Monarchist League of Canada is pleased to announce that this will be the first "twittered" royal visit. Yes, members and friends - as well as the general public, no doubt - will use Twitter to post news items, provide first hand accounts, and offer interesting commentary on the Royal Homecoming.

All you need to participate is a Twitter account. You can follow the MLC at twitter.com/monarchist. If you want to post something simply include the #royalvisit09 hashmark tag in your post. For those of you who aren't on Twitter, you can still follow the action on our Website. A live Twitter feed will run on our homepage.

Happy Tweeting,
Robert.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Time to revisit the monarchy?

This column appeared in Wednesday's Ottawa Citizen. It is written by Andrew Cohen, who is President of the Historica-Dominion Institute whose mandate is supposedly "to build active and informed citizens through a greater knowledge and appreciation of the history, heritage and stories of Canada."

Our own Nathan Tidridge, the League's Education Coordinator and himself a teacher in Canadian Civics, offers the following rebuke:

It was Adrienne Clarkson who wrote that, concerning Canada’s democratic traditions, “there is an abysmal lack of knowledge about the system.” These words echoed in my mind as I read the letter written by the president of The Historica-Dominion Institute, Andrew Cohen.

As a teacher of Canadian Civics I find myself in complete agreement with our former Governor General: we do not understand how we are governed in this country. Mr. Cohen’s suggestion to simply declare the governor general as Head of State once The Queen of Canada dies displays a lack of knowledge of our parliamentary democracy. If we are going to have the “adult conversation” Mr. Cohen suggests about the Crown in Canada we need to educate ourselves about what eminent political scientist David E. Smith describes in his book, The Invisible Crown: The First Principal of Canadian Government, as the “. . .organizing force behind the executive, legislative, administration, and judiciary on both the federal and provincial spheres of government.”

The fact that only 24 percent of the population know that The Queen is the source of our political and legal authority is deplorable – it speaks to the poor treatment our political institutions have received over the years. Mr. Cohen contends that the end of the Canadian monarchy is simply “a manifestation of maturity.” Cohan forgets that such events as the patriation of the Constitution in 1982 entrenched the Crown in Canada, strengthening its position at the centre of our democracy. A superficial survey of history denies Canadians the depth and richness that centuries of political evolution have given us.

True, Australia did explore the possibility of becoming a republic in 1999. However, this plan was sidelined over the issue of legitimacy and authority of an Australian president. Put simply, the governor general receives their authority from The Queen, and when the monarch is removed there is nothing left to legitimize the existence of the Queen’s Representative. Simply renaming the “governor general” as “president” creates a host of new problems: Who elects the president? If the president is given a mandate by an electorate what is their relationship with the prime minister (the Head of Government)? How do we ensure that a politicized office represents all Canadians? What institution will protect Canadians against an abuse of power?

There are other realities to contend with as well: First Nations’ treaties are with The Crown, not the government of the day; the Crown provides the foundation for Confederation and inter-provincial /federal relations; the Crown provides a unifying force in a country that can be easily divided.

I welcome a national debate. However, Canadians need to educate themselves about what they could potentially loose. The Crown has roots that run deep in this country – it is a defining institution in our political and cultural make-up. By simply labeling Elizabeth II as the “Queen of England” (a title that has not existed since 1603 with the death of Elizabeth I) and a relic is an immature argument. Such a statement denies centuries of cultivation by Canadians of their constitutional monarchy. Let’s get educated about the subject and have a serious debate.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A Linc In Time

Yesterday evening I had the privilege of attending a screening of A Linc In Time, a documentary on the life of Lincoln Alexander, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

The special evening was hosted by Ontario's current Lieutenant Governor, David Onley, at his Queen's Park suite.

My first memory of Linc (as he is commonly known) is from my childhood when I was in Cub Scouts. Every year, there was a Scout parade in downtown Hamilton. We took this parade very seriously, and I can still recall how nervous we got when we marched past the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, who'd always offer us a vice-regal wave upon passing.

A Linc In Time is a "surprising, funny, often heartbreaking but always inspiring account of his childhood, loves of his life, successes and tragedies are all shared by the Honourable Alexander himself, in his own words." If you get a chance to watch this documentary, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Linc holds a special place in the hearts of Hamiltonians. He is our hero and our success story. For me, Lincoln Alexander, like The Queen he so proudly represented, is the epitome of service, honour, and dedication.

Until next time,
Robert.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Diminishing monarchist forces? Think again!

Today's Toronto Star features an opinion piece by Randall White. Mr. White is a known anti-monarchist and is a member of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, a small Toronto-based republican group. He regularly writes articles disparaging the monarchy such as this one.

In his latest attack on the Crown, Mr. White makes two references to "diminishing monarchist forces." Diminishing monarchist forces, eh, Mr. White? Are these the same diminishing forces that appeared in headlines across the country? The same ones that played a key role in highlighting the head-of-stateism-by-stealth campaign at Rideau Hall, that ultimately lead to a statement by the Prime Minister of Canada and Rideau Hall's correcting their Website?

Are these the same diminishing forces that will be called on to provide insight and opinion on the upcoming Royal Homecoming of The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall? The same ones who forced BC Ferries last year to restore The Queen's portraits to its fleet? The same ones who have cemented a monarchist mentality at Canada Post and the Royal Canadian Mint?

Are these the same diminishing forces that every day add new members (especially young Canadians) to its fold? The same ones with a rapidly growing Facebook and Twitter presence?

One interesting aspect I noticed in the wake of the head of state fiasco was the absence of any real discussion about whether Canada should keep or abolish the monarchy. None of the major newspapers called for a republic. Even those less sympathetic to the Crown defended Her Majesty. Indeed, nobody was interested in a republic. The silence was deafening.

Sorry, Mr. White. But, it doesn't look like it's the monarchist forces who are diminishing...

Until next time,
Robert
Proud Monarchist Parasite!

Friday, 16 October 2009

An immigrant's response to the head of state fiasco

I received the following Email from Kwan Ho Leung in Ontario. It is a copy of an Email he sent to Rideau Hall expressing his disappointment with Mme Jean's referring to herself as "head of state."

I became a Canadian citizen almost 10 years ago and nothing in the long process of citizenship made me prouder than swearing allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II as our Head of State.

This is why when I read that the Governor General called herself the Head of State, I was deeply dismayed and offended. When one of your staffers said she was the "de facto" head, it made me even angrier.

As most new and old Canadians know, the Governor General is the Queen's representative and a representative can never be the actual person being represented. Please make sure that this silly mistake is not going to happen again.

We swear allegiance to the Queen, not the Governor General.

Sincerely,
Kwan Ho Leung


My experience is that the vast majority of new Canadians have a solid understanding of and appreciation for Canada's monarchy. Surely, if newcomers to Canada are expected to learn about our constitutional realities, that same expectation must apply to those at Rideau Hall.

Thank-you, Kwan Ho, for sharing with me your letter.

Until next time,
Robert.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Proud to be a Parasite, Senator

Whenever the Monarchist League is in the news there are two things that I know are bound to come: 1) Emails, letters, and phone calls of praise, and 2) Emails, letters, and phone calls of condemnation. The latter - often outrageous sometimes downright nasty - I jokingly refer to as my "fan mail."

Out of the woodwork will come the same tired anti-monarchists: the false nationalists who insist the Crown is not Canadian; the anti-British crowd who blame the UK for all of the world's ills including the Toronto Maple Leafs' 42-year-old Stanley Cup drought; the ideologues who cannot reconcile monarchism with democracy (y'know because Canada, UK, Sweden, Japan, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, etc. aren't democratic), and, of course, the disenchanted Quebec nationalist who detests anything even remotely English.


In the wake of last week's so-called head of state debate, I received a message on my voicemail from retired Sentator Laurier LaPierre. "I'm Senator LaPierre" the message started (yeah, Hello to you to, sir). Mr. LaPierre then went on to say that although "it may not be in the law, or in paper, or in the stupid constitution...the Governor General is the head of state." Huh?

"As soon as we get rid of the monarchical system and become who we are supposed to be we will be much better of." I'm still trying to figure out who we are actually supposed to be.

The good senator wraps up by saying, "only parasiittttttteessss want to be subjeecctttttt to the foreign queen. Good bye!"

I was left shaking my head, left wondering how interesting the conversation might have been had I managed to actually pick up his call. I would have told him, quite frankly, that I am proud to be a parasite then!




Until next time,
Robert.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Last Week was a Turning Point

Dear friends,

Last week was a turning point. After years of ignorance and outright mischief on part of some staff at Rideau Hall, people finally awoke and took notice. As you probably know by now, the Governor General twice referred to herself as Canada's "head of state" at a UNESCO speech in Paris.
Immediately after learning of this major faux pas, I contacted the Governor General's Secretary to express our outrage. We all know that the Governor General is not Canada's head of state but rather the representative of the head of state, Her Majesty The Queen. So, how and why in the world did this happen, I asked.

Soon after, the League was asked to comment by the media. Admittedly, I felt a bit uncomfortable publicly criticising the Governor General and her staff. After all, aren't we supposed to be on the same team? But, when things go so wrong, when the train falls off the track, we do need to act. If the Monarchist League of Canada turns a blind eye to such an obvious attack on the Crown then why are we here, right?

As the story unfolded throughout the week, most major news outlets across the country were talking about what has become known as the "Head of State Debate." Recognizing that this story was not going away (and was, quite frankly, morphing into a major controversy), the Prime Minister issued a statement to help clarify matters. Yes, The Queen is head of state. No, the GG is not.

Constitutional experts, law professors, the PMO, MPs, bloggers, editorial boards, and the Monarchist League of Canada all came to The Queen's defence. It seemed like everyone - everyone except those at Rideau Hall - agreed that Canada's one and only head of state is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.

The significance of last week, though, is not the the fact that our Governor General referred to herself as head of state. Nor is it the fact that Rideau Hall so foolishly tried to justify using the term (more on that in another post!). And, nor is it the fact that the Prime Minister issued a rare public rebuke.

Rather, the importance of last week is that years of constitutional vandalism was suddenly exposed. Last week, the general public learned what many of us reluctantly suspected was on the agenda: a carefully calculated plan to elevate the office of the Governor General, to purposely downplay the role of The Queen herself, to "Canadianize" the Crown into a monarchy without a monarch .

Finally, the story was being told. The head-of-stateism-by-stealth campaign was blown wide open for all to see. Yes, that's what is important. (Kudos to the national media for bringing this whole head of state issue to the forefront, by the way!)

I believe that years from now we will look back and realise that last week was indeed a turning point. The hidden agenda to turn the Governor General into the head of state now public and causing tremendous backlash, the steps are now being taken to reverse the trend and to restore the vice-regal office to what it truly should be: a representative of our Queen, a woman who has dutifully and selflessly served us for almost 60 years.

Serving as The Queen's representative and the honour and prestige that goes with that opportunity should be reason enough to want to be a governor general. You surely don't need to strive to be something more than that to earn Canadians' respect.

Until next time,
Robert.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Charles and Camilla Homecoming an Opportunity for Monarchists

Good day friends,

Saturday, the Prime Minister announced the dates for next month's visit of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. The Royal Couple will be visiting 12 cities and communities in 4 provinces, including a stop in my hometown of Hamilton where a no doubt a tour of Dundurn Castle will be on the itinerary. The Duchess is the great-great-great granddaughter of Sir Allan Macnab, the man who built Dundurn - and who, in 1860, hosted Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) at the castle.

Needless to say, there will be an incredible amount of interest in this event. There already is, judging by what I have seen and heard over the weekend. Thus, there is a wonderful opportunity for us monarchists to tell our story. More specifically, to promote the Prince of Wales as Canada's future king.

In a way, Prince Charles is a product of "extreme makeover." A team of public relations experts have transformed the way the public and the media see him - at least in Britain. Let's face it, folks, not many would've bet that the public would accept his marrying Camilla Parker-Bowes even 2-3 years before he actually did in 2005, right? The fact that the marriage happened and was accepted - even celebrated - shows how far the future king has come since the gloomy days of the 1990s.

But, I get a sense that here in Canada we can do more to enhance Charles' image. No doubt, the unfortunate fact that it has been some 8 years since he was last in Canada, has not helped. But, there is no point in dwelling on the past or on the negative.

Instead, let us take this opportunity to focus our energies on the positive. The reality is that Charles is an untold story, really. So, let's tell that story.

Let's tell the story of how Charles has raised millions of dollars through the Prince's Charities; of how he has been an environmental leader long before it was chic to be "green"; of how he strives to reconcile the world's religions; and of how he has successfully drawn attention to Canada's First Nations, the disabled, and the elderly.

The reality is that Charles' interests very much resonate with Canadians. I believe this Royal Homecoming provides us with the opportunity to make Canadians aware of that fact.

In the coming days and weeks, the League will undertake a number of initiatives to help tell the story - the untold story - of the Prince of Wales, Canada's Future King!

Robert.

P.S. As always, I welcome any ideas and suggestions you may have.