Time for a management change
As Queen Elizabeth II's record reign winds down to its inevitable conclusion, Canadians are thinking about who will be our next head of state. Canada is a constitutional monarchy and Queen Elizabeth is Canada's head of state. As she is a very busy lady, Elizabeth delegates queening to Canada's Governor General. At one time the British Monarchs chose their proxy from a pool of unemployed British aristocrats who might benefit from being thousands of miles away from their liege, but these days the Monarch is even too busy to choose Governors General, so lets Canada's Prime Ministers pick who will represent them.
Being that Elizabeth is 95 as this is written, Canada can expect a new monarch sooner than later. For the same reason Barbados, another of the Queen's realms, have chosen to convert from a constitutional monarchy to a republic. Which has some Canadians wondering whether Canada should do the same. Not that Canada has anything against the British Royal Family, but let's face it, they are going to continue to be too busy trying to straighten out the mess the Brits have gotten themselves into, so really won't have the time to also straighten out Canada's mess.
Maybe it is time for Canada to move out of mom's basement.
Should Canada follow Barbados' example and become a republic? A republic is best defined as a country where the head of state is not a monarch. Your typical republic head of state is selected, but not necessarily elected, by the "State", ie a combination of people, property and real estate defined by an arbitrary border. A monarch IS the state "L' État c'est moi" supposedly said by France's Louis XIV. Even if he didn't say it, he definitely acted it.
In Canada and formerly Barbados, legal authority and public ownership belongs to the "Crown". Barbados parliament passed an act that says the word "State" will replace the word "Crown", they also converted the office of Governor General to a President elected by Parliament. Not by general election. Neither Barbados or Canada allows the President or Governor General to be elected by the Hoi Polloi, which given recent developments in some other states is probably a good thing.
Canada throws around the word crown a lot. Much of Canada is still owned by the crown, there are all kinds of Royal this and Royal that, including the national police force, military etc.. Giving one person ownership rights of Canada could potentially be a problem, cf Ferdinand Marcos, Idi Amin, Xi Jingping, etc. etc.. That is where the constitutional part of a constitutional monarchy comes into play.
Over the years the British monarch and parliament have mutually agreed that the role of the monarch would be limited to waving at crowds, ribbon cutting, and providing entertaining stories for the world's media services. The British (and Canadian) monarch or delegate is also expected to rubber stamp without question Parliament and all its actions making it official by royal command. Without ever so much as expressing an opinion to the contrary, let alone withholding commanding or commanding without benefit of Parliament. In Britain the constitution that says so is imaginary. It seems that all the parties have an understanding, but no formal document. Should a British monarch decide to exercise their divine authority over parliament, they would do well to remember the fate of Charles the First.
Canada should use the opportunity presented by end of the long and decent reign of Elizabeth II to thank the British Monarchy for their many years of service and go it alone. But why throw out the baby with the bathwater? Just consider the cost replacing all those Crowns, Royals, Kings and Queens littered over the Canadian landscape as well as everything printed by all the governments of Canada. It has been proven that allowing a Prime Minister to choose a monarch designate by himself does not always end well, especially if the Prime Minister is an idiot. The prospect of allowing any politician, swarm of politicians, or for that matter, the great unwashed Canadian Public to elect a head of state is its own potential minefield.
So why not have a Canadian royal family? In established monarchies, the monarch usually gets a lifetime of training for the job. The good ones study their country and its laws, they become valued ambassadors at home and abroad. Monarchs can also be important tourist attractions, they contribute to their economy in many ways. Royalty creates a whole ecosystem of fan boys and girls competing for royal honors by doing good works and achievements for medals, plaques, certificates, titles and related trinkets that cost nothing compared to more destructive or embarrassing ways of drawing attention to themselves. Crucially, monarchs exist well above the hurly burly of partisan politics, always considering what is best for the state because L'État c'est moi.
Like it or not Canada that is was created by and remains ruled by royal decree, first by the French, then the Brits with a nod to the Russians and Spanish who may or may not have planted flags on Canada's west coast. When negotiating permission to occupy Canada with the people who were already here, the new arrivals struck deals with the native people guaranteed by their respective Kings or Queens. Promises were made. A Monarch's word was the next best thing to a word from God, possibly better as God hasn't spoken for a while. For this reason Canada's first people would rather deal with a distant Royal who probably does not give a shit, than politicians who only want to screw them some more. Expect First Nations to be opposed to any attempt to dump Canada's monarch.
So how could Canada choose a royal family? When the Brits were terminally unhappy with the Stuart family, they looked for a suitable substitute. The main criteria was that they should have some connection to the established British royal blood line and be protestant. They selected the Hanover family from the German duchy of Brunswick. Hanover descendants are still running England today, albeit with some surname changes. Despite some early adjustment problems the Hanovers turned out to be a pretty good choice, producing some of Britain's best loved monarchs.
While it worked for Britain, Canada should not invite an unemployed royal from elsewhere to be their ruler. The Canadian royal family should have the deepest roots in Canada. A royal family that will always ensure that the covenants between settlers and first peoples will be kept. Canada should also take the opportunity to have an actual constitution that defines what the monarch can and cannot do. L' État c'est moi should not be taken too personally but invoked for the benefit of all parties. L' État c'est moi does need to be able to stop politicians from doing whatever the fuck they want just because they are temporarily in control of parliament. A Monarch acts from the position that they and theirs will be forever unless they really screw the pooch.
As it turns out Canada's Prime Minister has with astonishing prescience and wisdom chosen a person with exactly the right background to be Canada's new Queen.
Long Live Queen Mary Simon born in Quebec, Inuktutuk mother, Anglo Canadian dad, career diplomat representing Canada and the people of the Arctic.