A united Canada without the Monar­chy

Abol­ish­ment would de­liver a force­ful dis­in­cen­tive to Que­bec’s sep­a­ratist move­ment

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - JEF­FREY J. CUN­NING­HAM

Canada and Eng­land would fit seam­lessly into the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity without the Monar­chy.

It is not ac­ci­den­tal that the great ma­jor­ity of na­tions are re­publics. It has been the re­sult of hu­man­ity’s long grop­ing in the dark, tribu­la­tions and sac­ri­fices.

Its first and great­est ben­e­fit for Canada is that it will de­liver a force­ful dis­in­cen­tive to the sep­a­ratist move­ment in Que­bec be­cause af­ter the dis­posal of the Monar­chy, ev­ery­one across the land will take the oath of al­le­giance to Canada it­self. We will pledge al­le­giance to one an­other and that per se will awaken a great sense of com­mit­ment, re­spon­si­bil­ity, and be­long­ing in all of us.

Let us for the du­ra­tion of time that it takes to read this ar­ti­cle set aside the fact of the Abo­rig­i­nals’ ex­is­tence on this con­ti­nent from time im­memo­rial and state an­other fact that the French came here be­fore the English and later on lost the colo­nial war to Eng­land, and Eng­land uni­lat­er­ally de­clared sovereignty over the en­tire land and dumped the Monar­chy on it. Wars are not any dif­fer­ent from sports in the sense that some­times you win and some­times you lose, and to take the oath of al­le­giance to the English Monarch sim­ply does not bring out the best in our French Cana­di­ans; it only per­pet­u­ates the feel­ing of a past loss.

France is a ma­jor world power, and sev­eral gen­er­a­tions ago with its Revo­lu­tion of 1789 it abol­ished the monar­chy and the par­a­sitism that went with it, ended the an­cient regime, and be­came the source of in­spi­ra­tion for the rest of the world. Now, what does it mean to a “free French cit­i­zen” to come all the way to Canada for a new life only to be la­belled as “the sub­ject” of the English Monarch? Who is any­one else to de­cide for our French Cana­di­ans how they should feel about tak­ing the oath of al­le­giance to the English Monarch?

As hu­man­ity’s ex­pe­ri­ence has shown, a monar­chy has never been a mar­ketable sys­tem. All monar­chies by their na­ture breed un­told priv­i­leges based on some­one’s birth and have been crum­bling one af­ter the other and, very for­tu­nately, it is im­pos­si­ble to con­vince a repub­lic to con­vert its sys­tem to a monar­chy.

What are we wait­ing for here in Canada? Are we wait­ing for the English to arouse from their coma to dis­pose of the Monar­chy be­fore we de­cide to be­come a repub­lic? The Monar­chy has al­ways worked for Cana­dian politi­cians.

One politi­cian af­ter the other has sought the high­est of­fice only for the sake of be­com­ing the prime min­is­ter, and the rest was to deal with the day-to-day rou­tines of the of­fice and at the end to col­lect a fat re­tire­ment pay­cheque!

We must sa­lute Aus­tralia for mov­ing in the di­rec­tion of a repub­li­can sys­tem. Its for­mer prime min­is­ter, Ju­lia Gil­lard, had the courage to make it her po­lit­i­cal plat­form dur­ing her cam­paign to end the Monar­chy in Aus­tralia and, when the Queen vis­ited Aus­tralia, she had the courage of her con­vic­tions and de­liv­ered the mes­sage by stand­ing tall and grace­ful and re­fus­ing to curtsy. What a great and un­for­get­table mo­ment it was for a na­tion mov­ing to­ward a repub­li­can sys­tem! Un­for­tu­nately, a coterie of mis­guided and sex­ist politi­cians did ev­ery­thing they could to bring her down, but they can­not stop Aus­tralia from mov­ing for­ward.

The best liv­ing proof that the sep­a­ratist move­ment in Que­bec will evap­o­rate and dis­ap­pear af­ter the monar­chy is ended is the state of Louisiana in the United States. Very briefly, in 1804 Napoleon Bon­a­parte com­mis­sioned four prom­i­nent jurists to sim­plify and nat­u­ral­ize the Ro­man law, which was preva­lent all over Europe. Their fin­ished work be­came known as the French Civil Code. In 1808 the state of Louisiana adopted it as the Civil Code of Louisiana. Even though the Code has un­der­gone sev­eral amend­ments and re­vi­sions, it is still heav­ily in­flu­enced by the Napoleonic Code!

Now, why is it that the early set­tlers in Louisiana, the Cana­dian Aca­di­ans, who were ex­pelled from the At­lantic Canada by the Bri­tish in 1755, and their de­scen­dents, the Ca­juns, never wanted to sep­a­rate from the United States to form their own in­de­pen­dent French state? Ob­vi­ously, be­cause the United States is a repub­lic and there was no trace of any monar­chy to look down its nose at them and, fur­ther­more, they could iden­tify with the United States be­cause the United States it­self re­volted against the Bri­tish and hence, the Fourth of July cel­e­bra­tion! The se­ces­sion of Louisiana dur­ing the Civil War (1861-1865) over a cen­tury af­ter their set­tle­ment had only to do with the “slav­ery” is­sue, which was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent mat­ter.

English Canada is sat­is­fied to think that the sep­a­ratist move­ment will go away on its own while the Monar­chy is firmly in place, but the hard facts in­di­cate that it is alive and well and only sim­mers down from time to time. Since Rene Levesque, the founder of the sep­a­ratist party, Parti Québé­cois, and the first Que­bec pre­mier from that party, re­signed from pol­i­tics in late 1985, we have had five more Parti Québé­cois pre­miers in Que­bec and there will be more in the years to come.

This leads us to the fair con­clu­sion that it now only takes a great and charis­matic French Cana­dian leader to rise to power and sweep them off their feet.

Time is march­ing on very fast and we must act de­ci­sively. We must stop once and for all falsely and com­pla­cently point­ing fin­gers at our French Cana­di­ans. In­stead, we must train our eyes and our united ef­forts to­ward re­mov­ing the ac­tual cause, which is the Monar­chy and its di­vi­sive ef­fect on our lives in Canada.

Jef­frey Cun­ning­ham is self-em­ployed, lives in Van­cou­ver, B.C., and his dream is a united, strong and sep­a­ratist-free Cana­dian repub­lic.

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