She’s on our money. She’s at our national celebrations. Her image adorns stamps and government offices and at every public assembly we sing a half-hearted ode to her health and longevity. But what does the Queen and her family actually do for Canada? For years and years, it seems the same argument has raged on. Should we abolish the monarchy or is it actually beneficial for us to keep it? As taxpayers, many of us dread the fact that any of our cash is supporting the Queen and her extravagant lifestyle (see note below) not to mention that of the entire royal family, but all the same there are some strong ideological reasons to keep on doing as we’re doing. I think it’s time we take full stock of our relationship with the monarchy and make a decision that’s based on all of the facts instead of the usual rhetoric.
Since 1982, under the government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canada has been a sovereign nation thanks to the Canada Act. We adopted our own flag, changed our national anthem from “God Save the Queen” to “Oh Canada,” and finally drafted our own version of the Constitution. Following these bold moves, the position of the reigning monarch in Canada remains vague at best. We all know what the Queen can’t do in our country. She can’t personally get involved in politics and government actions, and she can’t dictate law. She does however take great pleasure in presiding over our national affairs, bestowing Honours and taking Royal Tours. Essentially, we really aren’t getting a lot in return for our loyalty, materially speaking.
But here is where the arguments move past mere historical conservatism and physicality, becoming more philosophical. Accepting the fact that Canada is a constitutional monarchy whose monarch is all but obsolete, we are beginning to adapt the idea of the Crown to suit pressing contemporary needs–namely, the need to deal with our ever-oppressive neighbour to the south. Many Canadian monarchists advocate the Queen as a means to keep this country from being assimilated by the United States. As long as we continue to be a willing member of the Commonwealth, we retain an identity apart from the U.S. and are instilled with the theoretical backbone to say “no” to the President of the strongest economy in the world.
I guess the question is, is that enough of a reason to keep singing “God Save the Queen”? I say it is.
Note: You will be glad to know that your tax money does not pay for the Queen’s upkeep in Buckingham Palace. The lucky Brits get that privilege. We pay for her only when she’s in our country.
Sources for additional information
Monarchy in Canada – http://www.answers.com/topic/monarchy-in-canada
The Canadian Monarchy: The Legal Nuts and Bolts – http://www.monarchist.ca/new/nutsbolts.html
Canada Act 1982 – http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery?method=4&dsid=2040&dekey=CanadaAc&gwp=8&curtab=2040_1&linktext=Canada%20Act