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