Term Paper: Canadian Politics

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Canadian Politics

Canada is a nation that is comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Those provinces and territories span five regions: the Atlantic (Maritime region), Central Canada, the prairies, the West Coast and North (DeRocco 2009, 61). Every province in Canada works with Canada's federal government to make sure that Canada is progressing nicely; however, each of these provinces, it must be noted, has its own government. There is one question that plagues Canadian society and politics: Should Canada become a republic or retain its constitutional monarchy? While there are many arguments out there for keeping the status quo, there are just as many arguments that can debunk pro-monarchy assertions -- for example, most developed nations have moved past the archaic concepts of nobles and inherited rights in government and society (CCCR 2010). Another reason is that along with Canada's economic and cultural development, how Canada defines itself and how the people define themselves is a significant part of life (as is for any nation). Creating a republic is necessary for Canada as it will change the way other nations look at Canada, cut ancient and passe symbolic links and calm the crisis between English and French solitudes.

The first element to be considered is that republicanism is not new to Canada. Historically, Canada led the former British colonies in legislating independence and democratic reform, incrementally keeping Canada on the road to a republic since before the Confederation. Therefore, there are many who believe that Canada should do away with the final bondage of British colonialism, eliminate the monarchy, and become a republic. Others think that Canada should stay a part of the British Commonwealth and there are groups such as the Monarchist League of Canada to support that loyalty to England. However, keeping Canada as a Commonwealth country is passe and if Canada were named a republic it would solve the problem of Quebec separatism. Trudeau (1958, 300) asserts that "democracy will be thwarted in Canada so long as one-third of the people hardly believe in it -- and that because to no small extent the remaining two-thirds provide them with ample grounds for distrusting it." The British monarchy is simply outdated in Canada and it makes no sense for the nation -- as Canada is truly a republic already in everything but name. There is a head of state and the supreme power does lie in the body of its citizens. Canada's constitution allows for Canadians to remove the monarchy by its own legislation (though a challenge) and also significantly limit the power of the crown (CCCR 2010).

Perhaps it is because of a "ensuring loyalty" that is "deeply rooted in Canadian soil" (Appadurai 2009, 2). In the United States, when the 13 colonies rebelled against the British Empire, a groundbreaking event had occurred. For many years, Canadians (as well as New Zealanders and Australians) saw really no need to define themselves with a separate citizenship; they defined themselves by being English subjects. In 1935, the Irish Free State was the first Dominion to declare and define its own citizenship when it passed the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, which classified all non-Irish subjects -- including British, as aliens (Bridge & Fedorawich 2003, 8). However, the real revolution started in 1946 when Canada introduced its own Citizenship Act, which under Canadians still were to be English subjects but only by dint of being Canadian citizens first. "Indivisibility of subjecthood,' which had long helped to underpin the British world, was now irrevocably severed. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa followed suit in 1948-49" (2003, 8).

If republicanism happened tomorrow, what would happen? Many Canadians are split on this issue -- and some are merely confused: how would life change if Canada was a republic -- if it changed at all? What are the benefits of keeping the Queen as head of state for Canada? First of all, the notion of monarchy is just an tedious topic as it makes no sense in this day and age. The whole notion of someone being born royal with the possibility of potentially running a country (and Commonwealths) is ridiculous. When royalty and country heads are so arbitrarily decided, it makes everything else in the world seem massively unfair and primordial in thought. it's true that the monarchy in Canada doesn't have any real power per se, but they do have the ability to influence as there are still many who are loyal to the British monarchy. but, if the monarchy doesn't really have any power, then what is the purpose of keeping them there if only for a symbolic purposes? Nations need hands-on leaders and Canada does just fine with its Governor-General. The queen visiting Canada every few years doesn't have any positive consequences -- politically speaking -- for Canada (CCCR 2010).

Canada needs to become a republic in name and unlash itself from Britain. The current Governor-General, Michaelle Jean, is a Haitian refugee who came to Canada in 1968, and her authoritative presence -- especially due to the fact that she is a black woman -- makes the Queen's position as head-of-state not only feel antiquated, but look antiquated. Canada needs a more heterogeneous leader to account for the fact that Canada is now more varied in race, ethnicity, culture, language and religion than every before. The Queen of England does not stand for what Canada wants to symbolize.

In regards to the Governor-General, Cannadine (2008, 206) notes that the Governor-Generalship of Canada was the most promising pro-consular position available in the entire British Empire (excluding the Indian Viceroyalty). Since 1867, Canada has been a self-governing "Dominion" in the British Empire (CCCR 2010) though full legislative independence for Canada was established only in 1931 (the Statute of Westminster). Yet, it was not until the patriation of its constitution in 1982 that amendments could be made without the permission of Britain's parliament (2010).

The government would change slightly if Canada were to do away with its constitutional monarchy. The Governor-General, which is technically the head-of-state, has a "largely ceremonial role in the operation of Canada's government" (CCCR 2010). There is the option that a President (or other name for that role) could just inherit the role at first, with a later procedure to decide if any other changes are needed for that position. A better scenario would be to …democratize and clearly codify the constitutional role of the present office of the Governor-General -- essentially establishing a sort of 'president in waiting'. Then, when the opportunity arises, possibly at the end of the Queen's reign, a functioning replacement will already be in place. Either way, with the exception of being the representative of the People of Canada rather than the Crown, it's possible -- perhaps even likely -- that the functional change will barely be noticeable to most Canadians (CCCR 2010).

There is the strong argument that if Canada were to become a republic, it would weaken -- if not completely eradicate -- the urge for Quebec sovereignty. The notion that if Canada become a republic then Quebec may feel more of a part of Canada (as opposed to England) is a powerful statement and it is one that makes sense since separatists and Francophones have long complained about oppression by the Anglo majority. Once France and Britain are taken out of the equation, separatists will have less fuel for their fires.

Those in favor of a monarchical society may believe that tradition is the reason for their opinion. When the argument of tradition is given, it is simply a lack of understanding about tradition. Tradition can be both good -- and bad. Tradition kept women from voting, blacks from being equals, and oppression as normal. Sometimes it is good -- and necessary -- to break away from tradition as life progresses, and unjust and immoral perspectives change for the better.

In terms of Canada's place in the world and how it would fare if it were not linked to England, one only needs to look at its relationship with the United States to see. Canada's ties are no longer just ties to other Commonwealths; in fact, Canada has a strong tie to the United States -- Canada's NAFTA co-member and trading partner. Canada is also making associations to countries such as China and Mexico -- and Canada is doing it without the presence or assistance of Great Britain. For those who would argue that breaking free of the Commonwealth would severely impact relationships with other nations, this is just not so.

Canada would need to figure out what republican system it wants to use as a model in the event of breaking ties with England. There are many different types of heads of state as well as the level of responsibility and power they have. Many agree that simply evolving the current Westminster-style parliamentary monarchy into a Westminster-style parliamentary republic would be the simplest choice. "This would retain a largely ceremonial, politically-neutral and symbolic head of state as president (with… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Canadian Politics."  Essaytown.com.  June 29, 2010.  Accessed November 22, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/canadian-politics/62690.