Royal visits are fun but do we really need the monarchy, group asks

Citizens for a Canadian Republic say it’s time for Canada to sever its ties with the monarchy and have a truly Canadian head of state. Their director explains why.

Citizens for a Canadian Republic say Canada should ditch monarchy, Canadian should be head of state

William and Kate's trip through Canada is drawing lots of excitement, but Citizens for a Canadian Republic says that excitement will still be felt if Canada ditches the monarchy. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Wherever the royal couple has gone during their trip to B.C. and Yukon, they have drawn huge crowds.

But a group lobbying for a Canadian head of state says people should be careful not to confuse the couple's celebrity with Canadian support for the monarchy.

Tom Freda is the director of Citizens for a Canadian Republic and feels it's time for Canada to sever its ties with the monarchy.

He explained why in an interview with On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

Tell me more about Citizens for a Canadian Republic. What is the goal of your group?

By simply removing our link between the Governor General and the monarchy, that makes us a parliamentary republic. That is our goal.

Our Governor General acts in the name of the Queen. We would like that to change. We would like the Governor General to be our official head of state, not our de facto head of state.

No other difference: no change to our royal institutions, no changes to our history or culture, and above all, no changes to royal visits! We'd still welcome the Royals.

But you're not out to abolish the monarchy?

We consider the monarchy a British institution we have adopted. Whatever the British people decide to do with their monarchy, that's up to them. When Canadians are asked, "Are you in favour or not in favour of abolishing the monarchy?" of course people don't want to abolish the monarchy.

They have an affection for the Queen, they like watching the Royals, they like showing up for royal visits and seeing celebrities. But when you ask Canadians, "Do you think it's time for a Canadian person to be our head of state?" last year, 73 per cent of Canadians said yes.

So when you see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge drawing the crowds they do, greeted with such an outpouring of warmth and affection, what goes through your mind?

I don't think it relates. There are Canadians who like to go out and see somebody famous, and the Royals, they're A-list celebrities. They get the same kinds of crowds when they visit republics, like the United States.

But how do you know that it's celebrity rather than respect for the monarchy that is bringing out the crowds?

Ask them. They're there by and large because they're famous. We just had the Toronto International Film Festival, and we had the same kinds of throngs come out to see movie stars.

We're all about the constitution and our constitutional link to the Royals. [Royal visits] aren't going to change if we delete that. We're still going to like the Royals. We're still going to have royal visits. It's fine.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity. To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Royal visits are fun, but do we really need the monarchy?