Sunday April 02, 2017

New Canadians shouldn't have to swear allegiance to the Queen

Queen Elizabeth II, with Prince Philip, in Windsor, England, in June 2010, has reigned over an era that began when television was a novelty and colonialism was de rigeur. But Julienne Bay asks why new immigrants should have any allegiance to a colonial power?

Queen Elizabeth II, with Prince Philip, in Windsor, England, in June 2010, has reigned over an era that began when television was a novelty and colonialism was de rigeur. But Julienne Bay asks why new immigrants should have any allegiance to a colonial power? (Alastair Grant/Associated Press)

Listen 4:33

Julienne Bay was really enjoying her husband's citizenship ceremony, until the Queen got involved. 

All new Canadian citizens must swear allegiance to the British monarch. But to Bay, that's rather odd — given the role the British played in colonizing and dividing many of the countries those citizens come from. 

Her husband, for example, is of Indian descent. His mother, Bay says, "grew up hearing stories of colonial India: forced taxes on commodities such as salt and agricultural crops that sent Indians spiraling into poverty."

Julienne Bay

Freelance writer Julienne Bay wonders why Canada requires new citizens to swear allegiance to the Queen? (provided)

And it's not just immigrants who feel this way. A recent Canadian survey shows most citizens would rather drop the constitutional monarchy. 

Bay argues 2017 is a great year to enact such change. Not only is it a milestone year as we mark 50 years of Confederation, but Immigration Minster Ahmed Hussen has "mandated that the [citizenship] oath include honouring treaties with Indigenous peoples."

"Perhaps this change marks the start of a new era for the oath," says Bay. "Pledging allegiance to the Queen only bolsters a past full of discrimination. Why not scrap mention of the Queen altogether?"