Michael replies – Giving Canada its own head of state

Dear Michael
The royal wedding is historic and full of pageantry, and I’ll be watching it for sure. But it’s a reminder that we’ve got some unfinished business to discuss—the future of the monarchy in this country. After nearly 150 years of nationhood, we still rely on Buckingham Palace to give us a head of state, and I want to encourage forward thinking and leadership on the subject.

National symbols are important, and I believe it’s detrimental to Canada to continue labeling British ones “Canadian” when they’re not. A few examples:
  • Canada’s sovereign does not live here, nor share our citizenship
  • Any achievement of government is officially credited to the sovereign, not to those who wrote and passed it
  • New citizens must swear personal allegiance to the sovereign, instead of Canada and the Constitution. We intentionally divert the patriotic zeal of our newest citizens overseas.
  • The Maple Leaf flag must be removed from the position of honour for royal and vice-regal flags–even on Parliament Hill on the First of July. It insults the nation.
  • No Canadian has ever appeared on the head of a Canadian coin, a profound way we should honour national heroes
  • There’s a reason you never see the Great Seal of Canada. It shows virtually nothing Canadian, featuring Elizabeth II sitting on a British throne, holding British crown jewels
The monarchy is grand, but it’s of Britain, not of us. Over the last decade, every poll I’ve seen indicates a majority in favour of ending monarchy here. Our membership in the Commonwealth would remain unaffected.
Therefore, it’s politically safe to suggest we start looking at options for Canadianizing the head of state. In fact, it might be a key plank which distinguishes the NDP from others. By being the first major party to stake the issue, you’d own it, and put other parties on the defensive, forcing them to either agree with your patriotic vision for the country, or defend an antiquated status quo.
Yes, the country has other pressing issues, but we can handle multiple priorities. And frankly, this is a subject which answers the call of a country in need of an inspired national vision–one of leadership that takes us into the future.
I wonder if you might support giving Canada her own head of state, and raise the topic with your colleagues in the party. Imagine daring to make this a goal for our sesquicentennial in 2017, as a grand birthday gift to a country that’s long deserved it.
Many thanks, enjoy the wedding, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Wayne Adam
Michael replies:
Dear Wayne-
You have presented me with one of the most interesting questions of this campaign; what do we do with Canada’s Head of State? You’re right, no one seems to have a policy (although I have strong opinions) regarding what, if anything, to do about all those problems you list with our national symbols. Being a democrat, I’m not that fond of the idea of Royalty and the divine right of Kings, but I figure as long as we don’t have to have them on the payroll they give us a nice cultural continuity. Personally, I love your idea of “giving Canada her own head of state for our sesquicentennial in 2017, as a grand birthday gift to a country that’s long deserved it”. Perhaps that is something that would make Quebec feel more at home and entice them to sign on to the constitution. We’ll be thinking about the Royals this week and I will bring this idea of yours up when the conversation turns to the big wedding. Thanks for taking the time to pass along your ideas.
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