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A Thought on the Future of the Monarchy November 12, 2009

Posted by J. Hawkes in News.
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A CBC documentary airing tonight suggests that the Monarchy is in a deep crisis of legitimacy. Certainly the Queen’s family has not fared well in the celebrity-tabloid era. Could the malaise among some citizens about the Monarchy translate into constitutional change? Could the Crown of Canada be abolished after our beloved Queen Elizabeth II?

I doubt it highly. Current heir to the throne, Prince Charles, is certainly more unpopular than his mother, but not nearly so unpopular as to galvanize the public of Canada into replacing the traditional Head-of-State with a new (republican) system. As my previous post about political-history professor Michael Behiels makes clear: there is no simple way to change Canada’s constitution to allow a different Head-of-State. Opposition to Canada’s Monarchy would need to be united and very strong (75%+) to have any chance of eventually moving to a different system. And this would require constitutional negotiations and amendments – passed in all provinces and both houses in Ottawa (Constitution s. 41) – for the change to be effective. Disgruntled as some would-be-republicans might be, they are not nearly so united and strong as to force through a new Head-of-State.

In Canada’s case, the momentum of the status quo will ensure that we see our Monarchy continue beyond Queen Elizabeth II.

Those who are simply unimpressed with the current heir and wish to skip a generation should consult the constitutional conventions inherent in the Statute of Westminster 1931. The Crown is shared among several dominions and the United Kingdom. The Statute of Westminster requires the consent of all parties to the Crown to any alteration in the rules of succession. Historically, this was required only once before: when accepting the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936. I consider it unlikely that the governments in several countries will pursue any alteration in the succession.

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