With the news of the Queen of England’s recent stomach problems and hospitalization, Canadians are reflecting on what it means to be part of the monarchy.
Here are 5 fast facts about why Canada doesn’t need a Queen (or King).
1. She’s a Figurehead And Has No Power
While she seems like a lovely woman, the current Queen of England, Elizabeth II, is merely a figurehead of the 16 sovereign states she “rules” over.
As titular head of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Canadian government and each provincial government, she “rules” over parliamentary democracy and our constitutional monarchy.
Did you know? The Queen serves as Colonel-in-Chief, Captain General and Air Commodore-in-Chief of many units across Canada. #CdnCrown
— The Crown in Canada (@TheCrownCa) November 22, 2012
In short, Canadians recognize the Queen as our Head of State, but in fact our Governor General carries out the duties of Her Majesty on a daily basis and is Canada’s actual de facto Head of State.
The Queen herself has no power in our country, but she does appoint (or accept, in reality) our Governor General, who in turn does the heavy lifting in government.
Both roles are largely ceremonial, and can certainly be reassigned to elected Canadian officials.
2. Who Even Knows What A Governor General Does?
The Governor General, appointed by the Queen, has more responsibility in Canada, though again it’s largely ceremonial.
He or she (currently, it’s David Johnston) is responsible for appointing senators, judges and the Speaker of the Senate, providing royal assent to all legislation, and acting as the commander-in-chief of the Canadian Forces.
Most importantly, though, the Governor General has the power to summon and dissolve parliament.
Again, this is all work that can be done by a fully elected representative of the state with no connection or allegiance to a foreign power.
— David Johnston (@GGDavidJohnston) March 4, 2013
3. No One Wants A King Charles (Or King William)
Aside from his ill-fated marriage to Princess Diana, Prince Charles has about as much charm as a wet rag. While his charitable activities should be commended, what else does he really have on his plate as reigning Prince of Wales?
There are some who think that Charles should be skipped and the crown handed over to Prince William when Elizabeth dies. These same people likely think young blood will invigorate the monarchy and bring it back to fashion.
Does Prince Charles call his mum to ask how she is – or does that give her a fright?
— Polly Toynbee (@pollytoynbee) March 3, 2013
Others feel that the tall, gangly, balding William has little to offer in terms of real leadership. Expensive education and military experience aside, he’s basically a fancy-boy with a pretty new wife and baby on the way.
While he undoubtedly won the birth lottery in terms of wealth and privilege, does that really mean he’s automatically endowed with the wisdom, patience and leadership skills needed to run a large chunk of the world?
4. It’s Mostly Just Old People Who Like the Status Quo
Despite indications that the monarchy’s popularity is on the rise in Canada, chances are this is mostly to do with the hoopla of the royal wedding and imminent birth of William and Kate’s baby.
In reality, barely 50% of Canadians polled in favour of system last May, and that rate is far lower in French-speaking Canada. The holdouts tend to be elderly, and among youth the system is seen as dated and increasingly unnecessary.
”In the rest of Canada, 41 per cent support the monarchy and 32 per cent oppose it.”
— Collective Cognition (@cognitiveslap) March 4, 2013
In Australia, another Commonwealth country, opposition to the monarchy is even stronger. In 1999 a constitutional referendum was held on ditching the Queen. It failed, but republicans in that country continue to make their voices heard.
5. After 146 Years, I Think We Can Run Our Own Country (And Save Some Money in the Meantime)
While abolishing the monarchy in Canada would have massive repercussions (the foundation of our political system is based on it), countries like the U.S., Ireland and India show us that it can be done successfully.
Canadians pay a mere $1.57 per person per year to support the Queen, or a total of a little over $50 million per annum.
Over the last 10 years, the per capita bill for supporting the royal family — including expenses incurred by the royal family while in Canada and the costs of running the offices of the Governor General and our provincial lieutenant-governors — have more than doubled.
And in exchange we get to sing “God Save the Queen” once in a while, and hang her portraits on our government office walls.
— Will (@natnewswatch) May 31, 2012