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.

* * *

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.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Non-partisan vice-regals better than political presidents

Quentin Bryce, Governor General of Australia

In the aftermath of the recent Australian election that produced no clear winner, much attention is now being paid to that country's Governor General.  Specifically, people are asking what role she has in sorting out who should form the government.  This piece does a pretty good job explaining the various options.

However, the most reassuring fact is that the person who holds the ultimate authority in sorting out this political quandary is not a politician at all but rather a non-partisan vice-regal who represents the non-partisan Queen.

That's the beauty of constitutional monarchy.  It gives you a non-partisan headship of state.  The Queen and her representatives in the Commonwealth Realms are above the political fray.  Because politics are divisive in nature, at least in a constitutional monarchy (such as Canada or Australia) we have one element of government (the Crown) that strives to unite the country rather than divide it.  And, having a non-partisan head of state is only possible in a constitutional monarchy.

Despite what republicans may claim, it is virtually impossible to have a non-partisan president whether he is elected or appointed.  And, before any republican tries to one-up me by suggesting that the Governors General are appointed (and thus must be partisan, too), let me remind them that Governors General are appointed by (and removed by) The Queen.  It is also worth noting that time and time again, even vice-regals who are former politicians have shown themselves to be completely neutral and non-partisan once they take office.

In uncertain or turbulent political times, without question non-partisan vice-regals are much better than political presidents.

Until next time,
Robert / The D.C.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Creeping republicanism averted

Queen Victoria: The First Queen of
post-Confederation Canada
To borrow a favourite line of republicans: power to the people!  Thanks to the overwhelming response from residents in Cambridge, Ontario their local Member of Provincial Parliament Gerry Martiniuk has decided not to proceed with a private member's bill to change the name of Victoria Day to Victory in Europe Day.

Mr. Martiniuk conceded that he misjudged the situation, and that support for the Crown and maintaining the monarch-themed holiday - the day Canadians celebrate the birthdays of both our first and current Queen - was "almost universal."

Monarchists should take a lot of satisfaction in this victory.  A blatant example of creeping republicanism has been stopped dead in its tracks.

Until next time,
Robert / The D.C.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Scared republicans cling to flawed strategy

I couldn't help but ask myself what on earth are Australian republican politicians afraid of when it comes to championing their supposedly-beloved cause?  In case you weren't aware, Australians are in the midst of a federal election campaign pitting Prime Minister Julia Gillard (a republican) vs. Tony Abott (a monarchist, who is the former executive director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy).

Recently, the Prime Minister announced that she favours a republic but only after The Queen's reign ends.  In typical fashion she qualifies her republicanism by saying Australians respect and admire Her Majesty.  (So, why exactly are you a republican again?) 

It's become obvious that republicanism is no longer the chic thing it used to be Down Under.  Those advocating an end to the time-tested monarchy have replaced their "I am a republican" mantra with "I am a republican, but..."  Call 'em republican-lites.

Of course, republicans in Canada (yes, we've got a few here, too) also cite the end of The Queen's reign as the time when they think Canadians will all of a sudden wake up and magically become republicans.  Their thinking is flawed.

Republicans in both Australia and Canada are counting on one thing and one thing only: an unpopular Prince Charles.  Their assumptions are based on the idea that people will reject Prince Charles as their king.  The problem with this strategy is simple: who says Charles will be unpopular when becomes King?

When the sad day comes and The Queen passes on, Charles will become King of the 16 Commonwealth Realms immediately.  Sorry, no time to debate and change the constitution in that brief second of transition.

Nobody can predict the emotional state of the people during this time.  No doubt, there will be profound sadness at the passing of the only Sovereign most of us have ever known.  And, I suspect many people will have an enormous amount of sympathy for the Prince of Wales and will be impressed with the way the he and Prince William present themselves during what will surely be a difficult period of time.  Ultimately, there will be less hostility and more sympathy - coupled with a "let's give this guy a chance" mentality. 

If republican politicans were true to their words, they would champion their cause now instead of putting it off.  In other words, don't talk the talk but rather walk the walk.  Could it be that they are afraid that their cause is simply doomed to failure?  Yes.  They're scared.  So, they cling to a flawed strategy that pays lip service to the declining republican movement while allowing them to still boast, "I am a republican" - sorry "I am a republican, BUT..."

* * *

Next month, CBC will air an extraordinary documenary called "Queen Elizabeth in 3D."  It is only fitting that the subect of the first 3D documenary to be broadcast in Canada is The Queen of Canada.  The documentary features colour 3D footage of The Queen's Coronation in 1953 as well as 3D footage shot during Her Majesty's most recent Canadian Homecoming.  As an aside, yours truly also appears in the documentary...thankfully not in 3D.

* * *

Last month I had the great fortune of meeting Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at the Prime Minister's official dinner in Toronto.  The Queen has been one of my heroes and role models since I was a child.  Having the opportunity to meet her was for me a dream come true.  I thought I'd end by sharing with you what was a truly special moment in my life...

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Support for the monarchy rock solid

Whenever someone tells me that Canadians are no longer interested in remaining a monarchy or that Canadians are "divided" over the issue, I say to that person, "Show me the proof!"  Almost always, they will point to a poll that indicates support for the monarchy is less than 50%.  If they can produce a poll - and sometimes they can - that shows national support for the monarchy is actually less than that for a republic, they will arrogantly boast that Canada is on the verge of a republican revolution.  That is, until I throw cold water on their republican dreams by pointing out that when you dig deeper they will realise that support for a the monarchy in Canada is actually pretty rock solid.

I always take polls of any sort - but especially polls having to do with the monarchy - with a grain of salt.  Yes, they make for good conversation and can provide a snapshot of public opinion on a particular subject.  But, for the most part they don't offer much else in terms of value.  And, in many ways, they're actually rather useless.  Let's face it, folks.  The only poll that counts in a democracy is an actual vote - i.e., a referendum.  And, the mere fact nobody is seriously talking about holding a referendum on the monarchy speaks volumes.

In a new Angus Reid poll on the monarchy, national support for the monarchy is 36%.  Support for having an elected head of state is just 30%.  There are a few of important things to consider here to prove my point that the monarchy enjoys solid support in Canada.

1.  The Quebec Factor. 

Any reasonable person analysing monarchist support/republican sentiment in Canada must take into account that a significant portion of the Quebec population unfortunately wants to take Quebec out of the Canadian federation.  Yes, separatists are all for a republic.  But, they want a Republic of Quebec not a Republic of Canada.  Obviously, these individuals would not support anything that can act as a unifying force such as the Crown.

Further, thanks to decades of one-sided, vicious attacks on the monarchy by Quebec separatists, the fact there is any support for the Crown in La Belle Province is a miracle, quite frankly.  This monarchist will take the 15-20% support for the monarchy in Quebec and use it as a starting point for future opportunities.

When you look at numbers in the Rest of Canada - 39-30 in favour of the monarchy in BC; 46-27 in Alberta; a whopping 68-14 on the Prairies; 42-26 in populous Ontario; and 33-21 in Atlantic Canada - it becomes obvious that the monarchy enjoys tremendous support throughout the country..

2.  The Indifference/I Don't Know Factor

So, if 36% of Canadians are monarchists the other 64% are republicans, right?  Even the most optimistic republican surely doesn't follow this failed logic.  Republicans predictably focus on the monarchist numbers when they should be focusing on the percentage of Canadians who support a republic.  But, with numbers like those above who could blame them.  

The reality is that a good chunk of Canadians - 35% - don't know or don't have an opinion on the monarchy one way or another.  This is horrible news for republicans.  After all, they are the ones who need to convince Canadians to abolish the monarchy.  I've always considered the indifferent and I don't know's as default monarchists.  When push came to shove or in the event of referendum, they would likely stick with the status quo (that's what indifferent people do!) or not even bother voting at all.  So, while we monarchists can in an indirect way count on their "support" (hey, at least they're not supporting the other guys!), republicans can't or at least shouldn't.

Bottom line, there is no where near the level of republican support needed to abolish the monarchy in Canada.  Even in Quebec - where actual support for a republic is only 41% - I'm not convinced a referendum would even pass there.  In any event, considering the amending formula required to abolish the monarchy (i.e., unanimous consent of the federal government and all ten provinces), it is safe to say that the monarchy is here to stay.

3.  The "Canada having an elected head of state" Option

In this particular poll, respondents were giving the option of "Canada remaining a monarchy" or "Canada having an elected head of state."  This is significant because it is generally accepted that this would be the most popular option of choosing a republican head of state.  In other words, this would be the republican model that would get the most support.  As Australian republicans have already experienced, the electorate have no appetite whatsoever for having a head of state chosen by Parliament or some elitist committee.

Worst for republicans is that they themselves are divided over how to choose the republican head of state.  Get three republicans in a room and they'll proudly proclaim in unison that they want a republic.  But, they'll each tell you a different way to select the head of state.  And, looking at the Australian situation, many republicans would rather keep the time-tested monarchy we have then risk turning the constitution upside down by introducing a directly elected head of state.

So, there you have it.  At the end of the day, there is just no widespread support for a republic in Canada.  Period.  None of the major national political parties want to abolish the monarchy; there is no organised republican movement in Canada; and for the most part Canadian media are not hostile towards the institution or the Royal Family. 

Following back-to-back successful Royal Homecomings, Canadians are rediscovering their admiration, respect, and support for the Crown.  And, according to the latest poll support for a republic fell 6% while monarchist support rose 3% from May to June.  Looks to me that dismal support for a republic just got a whole lot more dismal.

Until next time

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Queen Elizabeth II: MVP

The Queen is our country's MVP. 

At last night's official dinner in Toronto, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told The Queen, “You are not only victorious, happy and glorious; you are also Canada’s most valuable player.”  He then called on Her Majesty to unveil a new exhibit (pictured) in her honour to be housed at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Of course, Canadians fondly recall that quintessential Canadian moment in 2002 during The Queen's Golden Jubilee when Her Majesty dropped the ceremonial puck at a hockey game in Vancouver.

As Canada's head of state, The Queen is the centrepiece of Canada's government and national psyche.  Laws are passed in her name.  She appoints the Governor General, who, in turn, opens, prorogues and dissolves Parliament.  She is the fount of Canadian Honours.  Her effigy appears on our coins and her portrait hangs in our courtrooms.  Yes, she is very much Canada's most valuable player.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Royal Tour keeps us all busy

Hi everyone,

As we're now more than half way through the 2010 Royal Tour (time flies when you're having fun!) I thought  I'd take the opportunity to say a big thank-you to all of our volunteers who are doing the League proud.  Our media team is in overdrive, our social media (Facebook and Twitter) is attracting new followers daily, our website continues to attract record hits, and, yes, we're busy welcoming new members to the League.  Within the first hours of the Royal Tour, we welcomed over 20 new members to the League.

Without question, the monarchist mood of Canadians has taken a grip.  The crowds have been huge.  Media coverage has been excellent.  And, no one is talking about a republic.

I truly believe that the genuine support for the monarchy that we are seeing amongst Canadians is in no small way thanks to the good work of the Monarchist League of Canada.  We can give ourselves a pat on the back and be proud of our accomplishments.

Keep up the good work, my friends.  And, let's keep busy!


Monday, 28 June 2010

The Royal Tour: Day One

Today, Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia at 2:20 p.m. (local) to begin a 9-day Royal Tour of Canada, The Queen's largest Realm.

On the itinerary today:

- A colourful welcome ceremony at Garrison Grounds, where Her Majesty will address Canadians and conduct a walkabout.  Many of our members will be in attendance.

- Mi'kmaq cultural event at Halifax Common to highlight the role of First Nations and Mi'qmaq communities across Canada and to honour the 400th anniversary of the Baptism of Grand Chief Henri Membertou.

- Re-dedication of Government House, the 200+ year old official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.  The residence has recently undergone an extensive three-year renovation.

Join me on CTV News Channel for live coverage of today's events.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Ready for the Royal Tour

Hello friends,

In three days, Canada's Queen and her Consort return "home" for a busy 9-day Royal Tour with visits to Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Manitoba.  The League has created a fabulous special welcome page (in English and en Français) on our website; has assembled a first-class team across the country to respond to media inquiries; and is ready to deliver extensive coverage of The Queen's 24th Royal Tour of Canada on our Twitter and Facebook.

Plus, yours truly will be blogging from here daily throughout the Tour offering you my own perspective and sharing with you other tidbits of information you may find of interest.

Many of our members have been invited to some of the many events taking place over the course of the next nine days.  Make sure to share your own stories with us, as well.

In the meantime, if you haven't done so already be sure to check out the Official Website of the 2010 Royal Tour.

Have a great weekend, and see you Monday.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Do not politicalize the Crown, Mr. Ignatieff

The Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition has regrettably turned the selection of Canada's next Governor General into a political issue, thanks to his peculiar press conference Sunday where he called on Michaëlle Jean to stay on as Canada's top vice-regal.

Never before has a leader of the opposition gone public with his thoughts as to who should represent The Queen in Canada.  That Michael Ignatieff chose to do so raises the risk of undermining the non-partisan nature of the office, which is a vital feature of our constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.

While the League is encouraged that the Prime Minister consulted with Mr. Ignatieff and the NDP's Jack Layton for their input on this subject, we are obviously disappointed - and confused - that Mr. Ignatieff doesn't recognise the importance of keeping such an discussion private.  On the other hand, Mr. Layton is to be commended for his decision to remain quiet.

Mr. Ignatieff is obviously aware that the choice for Governor General is strictly between The Queen and her Prime Minister. And, to his credit he alluded to this fact during his press conference. Which begs the question, why in the world go public in the first place?

The ultimate fear now is that there is a real risk that Mme Jean will be seen as the Liberal's choice for GG while the governing Conservative's choice is somebody else.  The office of the Governor General is supposed to be above politics.  Now, there is a perception that you should support one candidate over another, depending on what political party you belong to or vote for.  I can't imagine a more divisive situation to find ourselves in.

Mixing politics and the Crown is dangerous territory.  Don't do it, Mr. Ignatieff, don't do it.

Until next time,

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A republican disgrace Down Under

A foolish example of creeping republicanism has turned into a major incident in Australia.  God Save The Queen, the Royal Anthem we share, has been brazenly banished from the Melbourne Anzac Day service on April 25th.  Most of our members are probably unfamiliar with Anzac Day, but it is a significant day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) who fought in the battle of Gallipoli in Turkey during the First World War.

The Returned and Services League of Australia (the Australian equivalent to the Royal Canadian Legion) organizes Anzac Day services.  The RSL in the state of Victoria - aptly named after Queen Victoria - has dropped God Save The Queen from its Melbourne dawn service, resulting in a massive outcry amongst Australians.

Both major monarchist organizations in Australia - Australians For Constitutional Monarchy and the Australian Monarchist League - are leading the fight in the hopes that such a distasteful move can be reversed.

Here is an excllent post by ACM's National Convenor David Flint that explains why GSTQ has been dropped.  The reason?  That some people the organizers asked felt GSTQ was irrelevant.

Canadian monarchists know all too well the tactics of republicans.  When they can't get their way, they resort to removing and hiding visual evidence of the Crown.  Their hope is that by making the monarchy disappear people will simply forget about it and one day wake up as republicans.  Republicans know that they can't win the constitutional debate, so they are left performing the same tiresome, predictable, often childish stunts like this latest one Down Under.

Of course, we monarchists don't have to sit back.  In a previous post, I suggested we go on the offensive and beat the republicans at their own game.  It's called creeping monarchism and it works!

Until next time,

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Great Governor General Guessing Game

Since Easter weekend, the national media have been in a tizzy over who will become the next Governor General of Canada. Never has there been so much interest in and speculation surrounding the issue of a vice-regal appointment. Perhaps, it is a testament to the popularity of Michaëlle Jean. Or, that - thanks to two controversial prorogations - Canadians suddenly realise that the Governor General is much more than a mere figurehead. Or, maybe it is simply the information age we live in with the demand for news 24/7. Truthfully, it’s probably a combination of all three.

Such media attention, I believe, is very positive. Yes, I wish some journalists would do their homework and stop erroneously reporting that Mme Jean’s “term is up” and that “the Prime Minister likely won’t appoint her to a second term” (Civics 101. Governors General don’t serve “terms”. They’re appointed by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister and serve at The Queen’s pleasure. ) But, I am thankful that the media folk are actually talking about the office and its role. The Canadian Monarchy is in the news, and that’s a good thing.

There have been some wonderful names suggested. Some more seriously than others. Facebook campaigns have popped up asking people to support one person or another. And, the response to the League’s own Facebook page, Canada’s Next Governor General, has been fantastic.

When asked what qualifications the League believes a Governor General should possess, I am quite frank. We are rather flexible, really. All we ask is that he or she be a monarchist, understand and respect the role, and be non-partisan.

* * *

Here's a juxtaposition to think about.  If Canadian republicans argue that the Governor General is the head of state, then why do they say we need to abolish the monarchy in order to have a Canadian head of state?

* * *

This coming Sunday, I will be joining the League’s Kingston branch to celebrate The Queen’s 84th birthday as well as the League’s 40th anniversary. Next month, I will attend the Ottawa branch’s dinner to celebrate the same. I look forward to seeing many of you once again while welcoming the opportunity to meet others for the first time. One of my favourite things about being the League’s Dominion Chairman is meeting so many of our members. I hope to see you there.

Until next time,

Monday, 15 March 2010

Monarchy a major issue? Says who?

As a casual fan of CBC's Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, I was a bit surprised when I came across a new segment on their programme called Your Poll.  The idea is kind of cool and very 21st century.  Basically, you the viewer submits a question via Email and it may be selected to be a part of an actual survey conducted by EKOS Research exclusively for CBC.

It was the tagline to help promote the segment that caught me off guard: From the monarchy to prorogation, from climate change to the economy, Canadians have many opinions about the major issues of the day. We want to hear yours.

My immediate reaction was since when did the monarchy become a major issue for Canadians?  Sure, climate change and the economy are always high on Canadians' minds.  And, yes it does feel like prorogation has joined hockey as a new Canadian winter tradition.  But seriously, are Canadians that concerned with the monarchy to make it an apparent "major" issue?

I suspect it is just some republican - otherwise a nice guy or gal, I'm sure - working at the CBC - drawing a salary paid by you and me, remember - who simply wants to push their anti-monarchy agenda.  I mean, really, I can think of a dozen or more other topics that would be considered "major" issues before the monarchy and I bet you can, too.

The bottom line is that despite what the CBC says, Canadians are NOT interested in debating the monarchy.  The monarchy doesn't even register on the electorate's mind during election campaigns.  Canadians are much more interested in debating issues that affect their daily lives like healthcare and education or issues like terrorism and foreign policy. 

That the monarchy is a non-issue in Canada is evidenced by the mere fact that none of the major political parties in Canada has a pro-republican policy.  They know that any monarchy-republic debate is not going to win them an election.  If anything, it would only cost them votes.  Why?  Because the majority of Canadians are monarchists and the rest of us have more important matters to consider.

To quote former Governor General Ed Shreyer:  "On a list of 100 things that need fixing, the monarchy ranks 101st."

Until next time,
The D.C.

Monday, 8 March 2010

The Queen, a role model for women everywhere

Today marks both Commonwealth Day and International Women's Day. That got me thinking about what I could possibly blog about to somehow tie together these two symbolically important dates. Then, I recalled something Sheila Copps said when she addressed our Accession Day luncheon last month.

The former Minister of Canadian Heritage, who gave an enthusiastic and passionate speech about the monarchy, told of her deep admiration and respect for the Royal Family and for The Queen in particular. Alluding to Her Majesty's hard work and tireless dedication to service, Sheila called The Queen "a role model" for women - and men - everywhere...and someone who all women should aspire to be like.

On this day, when the peoples of the world celebrate International Women's Day and when almost a billion of the world's citizens celebrate Commonwealth Day, I would like to especially pay homage to one of world's greatest women, the Head of the Commonwealth Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Her Majesty has served her peoples with grace and dignity for almost 60 years. The world is a better place - kinder, gentler, more peaceful, and less divided - because of our Queen. And for that I say thank-you, Ma'am.

Until next time,

Monday, 1 March 2010

Canada's Next Governor General - an excellent opportunity.

It's hard to believe that it's been almost five years since Michaëlle Jean was appointed the 27th Governor General of Canada.  And, while there have certainly been some bumps along the road I think most Canadians will look back at Mme Jean's "term" as vice-regal with mostly positive memories.  But, as they say all good things must come to an end.  And, so the search is on to find Mme Jean's successor.

To get in the mood, the League has launched a new Facebook page called Canada's Next Governor General to encourage Canadians to offer their own input as to who they believe should be The Queen's next representative.  If you haven't done so already, please consider becoming a "fan" of this new FB page and also invite your friends to do the same.  You can also vote in an online FB poll - just for fun, of course - with over 50 imaginative choices for GG.

The idea behind Canada's Next Governor General is not only to allow you to make your own opinions known, but to challenge Canadians to learn more about the role of the Governor General.  And, I think that's where the real opportunity lies.

In the aftermath of two controversial prorogation requests by the Prime Minister - where the Governor General's constitutional powers were nicely illustrated - the time is right to step up our education efforts and explain to Canadians how our constitutional monarchy functions.

Queen to personally appoint the next Governor General?

There have been suggestions recently that The Queen herself may preside over the swearing in of her next Governor General while she is here in Canada this summer.  While, this is highly unlikely there is a possibility that The Queen could appoint the next the Governor General in person - like she did in August 1959 for Georges Vanier.  Coincidently, Vanier was appointed at Government House in Halifax.  Vanier was sworn in the following month.  The Queen will be in Halifax for centennial celebrations of the Canadian navy.  Perhaps, history is ready to repeat itself?

I believe having The Queen personally appoint her representative effectively accomplishes two key things.  First, it drives home the fact that is The Queen (not the Prime Minister) who appoints the Governor General.  Second, it illustrates that The Queen is the head of state and that she is appointing her representative.  Both of these, in my opinion, help strengthen the Crown and the office of the Governor General.

Until next time,
Robert / The D.C.

Monday, 8 February 2010

League's luncheon commemorates Queen's accession to the throne

Yesterday, I was joined by over a 120 League members and friends at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto for the annual Accession Sunday luncheon.  With the Honourable David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, as our guest of honour, we marked the 58th anniversary of The Queen's Reign.

As His Honour pointed out, commemorating the accession is a day of mixed emotions.  Not only do we celebrate our Queen's reign, but we also remember with sadness the death King George VI.

Our guest speaker was former Minister of Canadian Heritage Sheila Copps, who in 2002 caused the Golden Jubilee of The Queen’s Reign to be enthusiastically, widely and effectively promoted by the federal Government.  Sheila gave an entertaining anecdotal speech sometimes humourous, sometimes emotional and told the story of how - despite having republican sentiments as a youth - she transformed into an ardent monarchist.  She took the opportunity to convey her deep admiration and respect for The Queen, The Prince of Wales, and other members of the Royal Family - calling The Queen a role model for all Canadian women.

Following her speech, I presented Sheila with an Honorary Life Membership in the Monarchist League of Canada, a recognition she is very proud of.

I presented a second Honorary Life Membership to Nanda Casucci-Byrne.  Since 2003, Nanda has been the Private Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.  Previously, as Head of the Ontario Honours and Awards Secretariat, she positioned Ontario as a leader in the Canadian Honours System.  A great friend of the League, Nanda is truly honoured to be a new life member.

I would like to thank Their Honours, Sheila, Nanda, Taylor Scherberger, Graeme Scotchmer, Matthew Cutler, Sylvia Cook, the staff at the hotel, the luncheon patrons and contributors, and everyone who attended yesterday's luncheon.  Together, you made our event a great success.

Until next time,
Robert / The D.C.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Prince William's visit a blow to republicans Down Under

No surprise here. Prince William's visit to New Zealand and Australia was a smashing success. And, it has delivered a devastating blow to the republican movements in those countries.

Before the second in line to the throne touched down, the party-poopers..errr...republicans were nervously readying themselves for what surely even they knew would be an enormous wave of monarchist sentiment. The small republican group in New Zealand staged a protest that was easily outnumbered by well-wishers; and, instead of explaining to New Zealanders just exactly how they would be better off in some republic the group channelled their energy into unfurling a banner reading "It's time for a republic."

Republicans called it "extraordinarily ironic" to have Prince William open the Supreme Court (one of the main reasons for the visit) because it was established to replace Britain's Privy Council as New Zealand's highest court of appeal. I found this line of thinking a bit peculiar given that the Supreme Court of Canada has been our highest court since 1949. Really, there was absolutely nothing ironic at all in having Prince William open the NZ Supreme Court; rather, it was a sign of a mature country's new court being opened by a member of its shared Royal Family.

In Australia, where the national media have a strange, unhealthy obsession with all things republican, people came out in droves to support the Prince - leading to headlines reading "Prince Charming" and "Sydney's Favourite Son."

The Australian republican movement - still cranky 10 years after they were thumped in a referendum - used the occasion to unveil something big: the new reason why Australians should abolish the monarchy. Apparently, Australians need a republic because - are you ready for this? - Prince William wants England to host the World Cup of Soccer in 2018. Now, I must say that I've heard all kinds of arguments against the monarchy, but few have been as silly and desperate as this one.
In the end, the Crown is better off as a result of Prince William's visit. According to a poll released today, support for the monarchy has surged in Australia. Good news, for sure. But, what does all of this mean to us here in the Great White North?
Here in Canada, there is no republican movement. The media are much more balanced. And, none of the major political parties want to abolish the monarchy. So, at least for now the monarchy/republic debate is a non-issue - nothing more than meaningless chitchat, really.

However, the long-term strength of the Canadian Crown is obviously tied to Prince William. Ultimately, it is imperative that Prince William visit Canada in the not to distant future - as early as 2011, perhaps? - to enable him to learn more about this country and to enable its people to get to know their future King.

Until next time,
Rober / The D.C.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Michaëlle Jean's defining moment

I believe Michaëlle Jean has just experienced her defining moment as Governor General of Canada.  In the hours following the devastating earthquake in her native Haiti, Mme Jean has shown true leadership, compassion, selflessness and a genuine human touch at a time when, quite frankly, the world needed it.

Her tearful address to the media where she offered an emotional thanks to Canadians for moving so quickly to help was what - for many, me included - drove home the severity of the situation in Haiti.  Her sincere warmth and compassion for the people of her native homeland has moved us and has earned her well-deserved praise and respect.

There are some who maintain that the Monarch and her representative shouldn't show emotion in public.  I disagree.  I believe that if the Crown is to be the personification of the state, then it must also reflect the mood of the people of the state.  A kind, caring modern monarchy does not forbid its representatives to shed a tear when circumstances call for it.

Her direct participation in discussing Canada's relief efforts provided a unique opportunity to leverage the vice-regal's experience and non-partisanship.  The Governor General's right to be consulted, advise and to warn was truly demonstrated.

Mme Jean has not escaped criticism from the League or from me personally.  We Monarchists expressed our outrage when royal portraits were removed from Rideau Hall.  And, we were quick to correct her when she referred to herself as "head of state." 

But, Mme Jean's actions these last few days have done much to endear her to us.  I have earned a whole new respect for our Governor General as I suspect many Canadians have. 

When I look back years from now and assess Mme Jean's Governor Generalship I believe I will remember Mme Jean most for the way she conducted herself these last few days.  For me, this is her defining moment.

Until next time,
Robert / The D.C.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Upset with prorogation? Don’t blame the GG

Below is a letter yours truly sent to the Toronto Star in response to Bob Hepburn's column ranting against the Governor General.  After reading his piece, I'm sure you will agree that Mr. Hepburn should stick to writing opinion columns instead of trying to rewrite the constitution :)
Bob Hepburn is wrong when he says Michaëlle Jean has failed in carrying out her constitutional responsibilities as Governor General. His suggestion that Canadians should focus their anger towards Mme Jean and the vice-regal office if they don’t agree with the Prime Minister’s request to prorogue Parliament is absurd.

Mme Jean has done nothing other than follow normative behaviour for The Queen's representative: that is, to accept "advice" in the Constitutional sense from her sole Constitutional "advisor”, the Prime Minister of the day. She would be justified in refusing his advice only if a) his government had been defeated in an election or lost the confidence of the House; b) was personally implicated in corruption or misconduct; c) he asked her to thwart the Constitution by, for instance, ignoring its requirement for elections every five years.

Absent such a situation, Her Excellency is doing exactly what Canadian convention requires: avoiding implicating the Crown in a political controversy which, inevitably, would become the focus of the next election, when the focus should rightly be on determining whether Mr Harper's advice to Mme Jean - along with the rest of his record - justifies giving him another term or removing him from office.

Mr Hepburn’s proposed solution is equally unreasonable. To imagine that Canadians could casually abolish the fundamental Constitutional Office of Governor General - making our past wrenching Constitutional debates look like picnics - is as fanciful as it is inappropriate. Even if one disagrees with Mme Jean's actions, the remedy is not to change our entire system of government any more than we abolish Parliament when it passes a law we don't like.

Robert Finch,
Dominion Chairman
Monarchist League of Canada