CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The conversation over whether Canada should break away from the British monarchy has been reignited.
It comes following a decision last week from the Caribbean nation of Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and become its own republic.
Barbados isn’t the only country in history to have done this as other nations like India, Fiji and Kenya have changed to a republic from a constitutional monarchy.
Currently, just over 30 members of the Commonwealth of Nations are designated as republics.
Canada, however, is not on that list and the debate over whether the country should change from a dominion to a republic has gone on for decades.
Tom Freda is the director of Citizens for a Canadian Republic (CCR), an organization promoting the idea of independence from the monarchy.
He said it doesn’t make sense for Canada to continue to have someone on an entirely different continent, living in a castle as head of state.
“Canadians are constitutionally exempt, at the present time, from being head of state of their own country. What does that tell our children? You can grow up to be anything you want, except head of state of Canada. It’s (almost) 2021, it’s time we started looking at all of this and put away all this colonial baggage.”
Freda said any transition away from the constitutional monarchy will never be easy and recommends such a move take place after Queen Elizabeth II passes away.
Meanwhile, Robert Falconer with the Monarchist League of Canada believes the conservation should take place after the Queen’s death but argues it is too difficult of a process in the first place.
“The best legal argument is that it’s actually extremely difficult for us to remove the monarch as our head of state simply because it involves opening our constitution. There isn’t a huge appetite among the main federal parties to do that.”
Other countries, such as Australia, have pondered such a move many times in the past.
In 1999, the country held a referendum asking Australians whether to amend the constitution to allow for the creation of a republic and a president chosen by Parliament.
Just under 55 per cent of voters said no to that proposal.
One of the other key arguements against republicanism is the fear that having an elected head of state could lead to a complete overhaul and a government system that mirrors the United States.
Freda, however, refutes those claims saying if Canada does breakaway from the monarchy, it would still keep its parliamentary system.
“It doesn’t affect our royal instituions, it doesn’t affect our Parliamentary traditions. What it does do is it says to the world that we have taken that last step to independance and prefer to choose one of our own Canadians, one of our own citizens as representations of the state.”
He added, having a representative such as the Governor-General or Lieutenant-Governor is now obsolete as since 1940, more executive powers have been taken away from the Governor General to whoever holds the Prime Minister’s office.
Falconer said having such a representative is important and gives the example of the BC Liberal party folllowing its minority election win and non-confidence vote in 2017.
“Premier Clark went to the Lieutenant-Governor and asked her to call another election. The Lieutenant Governor, after weighing the consequences of this, decided that there wasn’t any confidence in the Legislative Assembly and decided to give the NDP a chance at forming government.”
Freda, however, rejects those claims, pointing to the fact that many republics still use their parliamentary system, as would Canada if they ever chose that route.
“It doesn’t affect our royal institutions, it doesn’t affect our Parliamentary traditions. What it does do is it says to the world that we have taken that last step to independence and prefer to choose one of our own Canadians, one of our own citizens as representations of the state.”
When it comes to Canadians opinion on this issue, many are not sure about the future of the monarchy after Queen Elizabeth II.
In January, a survey from Angus Reid showed about 41 per cent of respondents believe the royal family is irrelevant with 45 per cent agreeing its time to break away from the monarchy.