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..."

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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.

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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...