Is the monarchy still strong in Canada?

Interviewed by guest host Mercedes Stephenson on the July 4, 2010 program

"Is the monarchy still strong in Canada?"

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  • Lynne Bell
    Freelance journalist, writes for Majesty magazine in UK, and co-author of Queen And Consort

  • Tom Freda
    National director of Citizens for a Canadian Republic.

  • Michael Valpy
    Longtime writer for the Globe and Mail specializing in politics and ethics.

  • Michael Bliss
    Professor emeritus at Univ. of Toronto, Canadian author and historian

Guest host Mercedes Stephenson's introduction to the July 4, 2010 program:

Our question today: "Is the monarchy still strong in Canada?"

Today we want to talk about the monarchy. Queen Elizabeth is on a nine-day tour of Canada. Since becoming Queen in 1953 she has visited Canada officially 22 times. The affection many Canadians hold for the Queen is obvious and it is evident in the crowds that turn out to see her. At fifty-seven years on the throne, for many Canadians she is the only sovereign they have ever known.

When Prince Charles visited with his wife Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, last year in November, the reception was polite but decidedly less enthusiastic. Some observers say when Charles becomes King the monarchy will weaken. Polls suggest that Canadians are evenly divided on the monarchy with some fully supporting the institution and others saying it's time to move to a more home-grown republican system. Republicans might sound like that party south of the border --- we're not talking about them today. We're talking about the republican movement in Canada. These republicans say the monarchy is anitquated, and it's time for the country to elect its own head of state. It's time for Canada to redefine itself on it own. Imagine -- elections for the governor general.

Critics of the republican option say everytime there's a royal visit it sets off polls of Canadian attitudes and soul-searching about whether Canadians really want a monarch who is based in another country ...but they point out that beyond the griping there is no deep-seated desire to enter into the kind of national discussion and negotiation that will lead to designing another constitutional option. Why tinker with somethings that works, they say.

Republicans counter that it is silly that a fully independent country still uses the monarch of its colonial master ...and that just as Canada found its own flag, Canadians can develop their own head of state.

We want to know what you think ...about the Queen ...and the future King? Do you think the monarchy as such has served Canada well? Is it worth trying to change it?

If it is worth trying to change it, what system would you prefer? How would Canadians choose a head of state ...and how would it function? What would you look for in a home-grown Canadian head of state?

Our question today: "Is the monarchy still strong in Canada?"

I'm Mercedes Stephenson, on CBC Radio One and on Sirius satellite radio channel 137 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.



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