Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Another reason to be glad we don't really have a monarchy in Canada

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The Guardian has revealed that the British Queen and her son have involved themselves more than a thousand times, often with their own legal counsel assisting them, in the framing of legislation when it affects their interests and their income -- actions that the paper says would be illegal if engaged in by a Member of Parliament, say. This is not the formality of royal assent. It's just one of the privileges of being royal in the United Kingdom.

We're often told that Queen Elizabeth is Queen of Canada, too, but happily in this sense she isn't. The queen doesn't meddle in Canadian legislation in this way. Royal assent is given by governors general (and lieutenant governors) on the advice of their ministers, and I trust they do not have the privilege of revising bits of legislation that might affect their own pocketbooks. It's another wholesome way in which we have effectively abolished the monarchy from Canadian public life.

What Canada really ought to do, I come to suspect, is retain the forms of constitutional monarchy, and amend the constitution only to the extent of declaring the Canadian crown permanently vacant. We'd preserve all the benefits of our parliamentary system, simply removing the symbolic place of that peculiarly privileged foreign English family. That would still require a constitutional amendment -- and a decision on how to properly select a governor-general/head of state. But it would involve a minimum of the kind of constitutional or organizational turmoil that traditionally deters premiers and prime ministers from venturing into the topic. 

Why aren't there highly skilled teams of constitutional scholars and Masters of Law students laying the legal groundwork for this? Do I have to do all the work around here?

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