At some point, I hope to blog in detail about the Liberal Party of Canada’s attempts to rebuild itself following its disastrous decline over recent years, because (a) I find the idea of rebooting a major political party from scratch to a fascinating intellectual exercise, and (b), it will give me a chance to explain why I don’t think that the current crop of Liberal politicians has a chance in hell of actually pulling it off. Until then, however, I will satisfy myself by commenting upon the occasional nuggets which happen to strike my fancy.
Such as this one, for example. It seems that the youth wing of the Liberal Party* has passed a resolution calling for the abolition of the Monarchy** and it’s replacement by a Republic withan elected head-of-state (if passed, presumably, we can stop making fun of our American friends when they slip-up and make reference to the “President” of Canada).
Now, a resolution like this clearly raises all sorts of interesting questions, but the most prominent among them is why? Canada has existed quite comfortably these past one hundred forty-four-and-a-half years as an independent nation with a nominal foreign head-of-state, so is there any pressing reason to bring this up now? I mean, yes, it sucks that only British Anglicans can inherit the throne but, frankly, does that really make that much of a difference to society at large? Does the fact that only a member of a certain religion can inherit a nominal title in a country three thousand miles away so privilege members of that Religion living in Canada that it deforms our body-politic? Moreover, since we’re now talking about changing the constitution anyway, why are we wasting time discussing only such trivial cosmetic matters rather than actual, structural changes to the way that Canada is governed. I mean, I certainly suppose that an elected President would be less-likely to rubberstamp Harper’s prorogation of Parliament than a toothless ceremonial official like the Governor-General, but couldn’t the same result be achieved more effectively by simply enshrining the powers of Parliament (and the limits on the Prime Minister’s power) directly in the constitution?
What’s more, why would we want a Republic, really? What’s the advantage? To me at least, it seems like politicizing Canada’s head-of-state by means of elections could seriously undermine the Canadian state’s ability to function smoothely, and I hardly think that it’s a coincidence that seven of top ten countries on the United Nations Human Development Index are Constitutional Monarchies***. But, I suppose that there is something to be said for repatriating the head-of-state and all of its symbolic import to our development as a nation, so I would like to submit the following modest proposal:
Let’s form our own monarchy. As soon as (which God forbid) the Queen dies, let’s have parliament declare one of those royals who is at no risk of actually inheriting the throne to be our Head of State. This person would then move to Rideau Hall and be declared Queen of Canada. Everything would run in exactly the same way, only we won’t need Governors Generals anymore, and every part of the constitution which refers to “the Queen” will now be referring to the one in Ottawa. We won’t even need to change the name of all of those things that have been dubbed “Royal” over the years. If there is a downside to this, I’m afraid I cannot see it.
*I had cause to associate myself with them during the 2008 Federal Election campaign, during which time I found them to be a creepy, near cult-like band of circle-jerking, partisan wonks, but the same, in all fairness, is probably true of all political parties.
**Canada’s official head-of-state, for those of you not in the know, is still Queen Elizabeth II.
***Wait, we’re below the USA? Thanks alot, Harpo.