Canadians have been struggling with the “Canadian monarchy” for some time now. As you probably know, their “monarchy” refers to the British monarchy–which reigned over a large portion of the world.
Many of the countries that once were part of the British Empire have since declared their independence.
Canada, however–like other members of the Commonwealth–remains in a sort of in-between state when it comes to its government. Let’s find out more in the paragraphs to follow!
Yes, Canada is technically–and in some ways literally–under British rule. So are Australia, Jamaica, New Zealand, and about twelve other countries. Together, they comprise the British Commonwealth–a holdover of sorts from the colonial era.
These countries are known as “constitutional monarchies,” meaning that, while they function as democracies, the Queen still plays a minor role.
Queen Elizabeth II is the Canadian Queen.
She has visited Canada many times during her reign of over 65 years. So have her husband, children, and grandchildren. These have been largely ceremonial visits. She has made ceremonial visits to other countries as well.
Ceremonial visits speak more directly to her role as head of state than to any governmental functions she performs, though. Yes, QE2 is head of state for Canada, whereas Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is head of government.
This can be confusing, especially to Americans since the U.S. president functions in both roles. That’s why you will see him in the company of both Trudeau and the Queen.
The Queen still has some responsibilities in Canada–which will be taken over by her heir if the monarchy continues to be a presence there. However, many of her other functions as head of state are carried out by Canada’s Governor-General.
Of course, Queen Elizabeth is both well-known and popular. So you might not have heard of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette. But this woman has been the Governor-General of Canada since October 2, 2017.
According to her official website, Payette was an astronaut, engineer, scientific broadcaster, and corporate director before assuming her current role. Pretty impressive, eh?
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) describes the Governor-General’s responsibilities as the following:
Like the Queen herself, the Governor General’s responsibilities are primarily ceremonial and–like members of the Royal Family–takes on various charitable causes to promote and support.
This was certainly true of Payette’s predecessor, Michalle Jean, a Haitian immigrant who supported causes involving youth, aboriginal Canadians, the military, the arts and fighting violence against women.
By the way, since Canada is officially a bilingual and multicultural country, the Governor-General position alternates between French and English Canadians.
Well, actually Canada did declare its independence. Just as Americans celebrate independence from the Crown on July 4, Canada celebrates its independence on Canada Day, July 1.
Yes, on July 1, 1867, Canada became an independent nation with the passage of the British North America Act. You must be wondering what this actually means though, given the current role of the British monarchy in Canada.
We’d suppose it meant that Canadians wanted to retain the monarchy– as they did again in 1931 when the statute of Westminster formally recognized Canada’s independence.
And even today, according to The Economist (citing a 2013 survey by a Toronto firm), only slightly more than half of all Canadians wish to terminate the formal connection with the British Royal Family.
So it seems many Canadians still appreciate tradition. Perhaps they believe there are bigger concerns these days. Perhaps they are concerned about what will happen politically with the colossus to the south in years to come.
Well, at least some Canadians would answer this by saying “Absolutely nothing!” For many others, though, it’s about waiting to find out what happens in the near future.
Meanwhile, Kevin Anett, who is running for office under the Republican Party of Kanata, is one Canadian looking to change that future now. Check out this article for an interesting interview with him.
With Queen Elizabeth II now a sprightly 93 years old, we can expect some changes to the monarchy in the coming decade.
Prince Charles is next in line for the throne. His son Prince William follows. And there is no shortage of little ones in the generation after that waiting for their turn to rule a former empire.
Royalty is a conservative institution, but in challenging times, people value stability–along with never-ending news of The Royals.
Canada has always provided a home to immigrants and this hasn’t changed,
An article in a 2018 issue of CIC News (published by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) explains that “an immigration rate of one percent of Canada’s population by the year 2030…
“would help offset the challenges caused by an aging population and contribute one-third of Canada’s projected average annual real GDP growth rate of 1.9 percent that year.”
Canada is already a diverse country. But as the population grows even more diverse, politics will likely shift, and the issue of the Monarchy will arise all over again. It might change at some point. Time will tell.
But is Canada owned by England today? No! Read your history books!
Americans visit Canada for business, on vacations and other reasons. Most seem not to know a single thing about the country, though much less how its history both differs from and is intertwined with that of the U.S.
People need to realize, as Canadians do, that the U.S. and Canada took different paths toward independence: one a violent revolution, the other a gradual easing into a modern-day democracy.
Americans who visit Canada use words like “quaint,” “clean,” and “safe.” But most don’t understand what underlies these impressions, or what makes the U.S. and Canada so different. No, the U.S. would never tolerate a monarchy.
But do you really understand why this is the case? Or why Canada does tolerate one?
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