'Depasse and archaic' - Macleans.ca

‘Depasse and archaic’


Gilles Duceppe, not particularly excited about the visit of Charles and Camilla.

“The monarchy is a system that is depasse and archaic,” Duceppe said Tuesday in Montreal. “I call it a genetic lottery. People who say they have blue blood should see their doctor as soon as they can.”


‘Depasse and archaic’

  1. someone should ask Iggy if he stills means what he said awhile back : For greatness is what monarchy once implied, and the greatness is irrevocably gone. If so, why retreat further? Why not turn retreat into an opportunity for reform? Now is the time for the republican tradition in Britain to find its voice again. Such respect for the monarchy as I have makes me believe they deserve a more honorable opponent than rabid porno-populism. For the choice the British face is between clinging to an institution which has had its day or affirming what their history has always taught, which is that “We, the people” and not the crown are the source of all power and authority in this island.

  2. Genetic lottery = pretty good line

  3. The whole point is that it's arbitrary. Nobody is suggesting that the monarch should be (or is) the best man for the job. The only alternatives are a presidential system, with the Tsarism that entails, or a straight lottery, which (let's face it) is not likely to select someone trained from birth in how to stand still.

    • And don't forget bladder control.

      • And the wave. It takes a lifetime to perfect the wave.

        • Reminds me of Napoleon's complaint that he could never figure out how to walk like a monarch.

    • "the only alternatives are a presidential system"

      Well, there are systems in which the president's role is entirely ceremonial and almost identical to the GG's. The Commonwealth republics are cases in point.

      To my mind, it's politicizing the role that's the real danger. We could have a system in which Canadians elect a sovereign for life. But since I believe the system is working fine (Canada is, after all, the country that has the longest unbroken stretch of democracy in the World) I'm happy with thing as they are. And, as we all know, tinkering with it just invites a lot opportunism from 2nd-tier politicians.

      I think we need to fix Parliament before touching this.

      • Hear hear, first things first.

        • I agree. Canada may one day sever itself from its monarchial ties, but it will be a long and painful process. The constitutional bickering will make Meech Lake seem like a walk in the park.

          • The real concern is whether what emerges from that bickering will be an improvement upon the current situation. I forsee endless committees coming up with increasingly more complex and less workable plans.

          • It's like Wells was talking about last night. Most of us don't really think about Monarchy at all but many of us turn into Monarchists when forced to think about alternative system. I think it's no-brainer: choice of keeping status quo or the constitutional drama that will occur if we were to kick our Head Of State to the curb.

            Long live the Queen!

          • Hear, hear. Long live the Queen. Her mother made it to 101; hopefully Queen Elizabeth will reign for another decade or so.

          • She'll surpass Queen Victoria on 10 September 2015 and Louis XIV on 26 May 2024 (FTW).

          • If the Queen surpassed Louis XIV, that would be truly amazing! Thanks to modern medicine and the Queen's maternal longevity, there's a decent chance that this could actually happen.

            On a related note:

          • Interesting. "Rabid porno-populism" is a nice phrase.

            I'm reminded of George Orwell's diary, I think from late 1940 or early 1941, in which he recounts meeting a continental intellectual (French, if memory serves) who apparently voiced what Orwell took to be the widespread opinion on the continent that Britain had not gone Fascist precisely because of the monarchy, i.e. there was no tradition of worshiping political figures, all that loyalty being given rather to the monarch. Perhaps Ignatieff has rethought his erstwhile republicanism after seeing what happens, e.g. in the USA, when a Head of State becomes a de facto dictator.

          • That's an interesting point about the monarchy being credited by wartime Europeans as having prevented Britain from succumbing to fascism. I'm sure that monarch-veneration really did play a role in smothering demagogue-worship. Of course, you could also argue that Britain's democratic and intellectual traditions are inherently anti-Fascist (despite all the Imperialistic and jingoistic excesses of the 19th and early 20th centuries).

            Hopefully Ignatieff will clarify his stance on the monarchy, now that his old anti-monarchist musings been revealed. I discovered Iggy's piece months ago, and I thought it was noteworthy because no Liberal or Conservative leader in Canadian history had ever gone as far as Ignatieff in denouncing the monarchy and calling for a "republican tradition to find its voice again".

            As Kady once pointed out to me, if Ignatieff became Canada's Kevin Rudd and took a strong republican stance, it could be one of the most popular positions he has ever held. The problem is that doing so might cause a serious rift within the Liberal party.

  4. Well, one could say the BQ is depasse and archaic. At least the monarchy is doing no harm – and many of us think it does considerable good. I wish one could think the same of M. Duceppe.

    • The monarchy has been archaic and an anachronism quite a bit longer than the BQ. And what good is the monarchy doing for Canada, at this stage of our history? There is simply no longer a place for a British monarch in a modern Canadian democracy.

      We should transfer the head of state powers to the GG, once Elizabeth II has passed on. The GG should be appointed by some non-political process (that's the hard part). This is one of those rare times I agree with M. Duceppe.

      • The hard part is opening up the constitution to change the head of state. And then figuring out what to do with all of the conventions and rules in our legislative, executive and judicial systems that recognize the crown as supreme. Think of all the terms that would have to be changed "royal assent", "crown attorney", "crown agency", "her majesty's loyal opposition". And what would the outcome of all this effort be other than to discard the history and tradition of our country and the British Empire from which we were formed.

        • Just because it's hard to do isn't an argument that it shouldn't be done. I'm sure many laws had to be changed when slavery was banned, but somehow countries survived this.

          And we wouldn't be discarding our history and traditions just merely evolving to then next logical level of a mature democracy. There is more to Canadian history than the influence from the British Empire.

          • Again, I would ask that you not interpret my remarks to indicate what I think should or ought to happen.

            These are my arguments:
            Changing the head of state requires constitutional change.
            Implementing that constitutional change will require changes to the rules and conventions of the legislative, executive and judicial systems for provincial and federal governments (perhaps municipal too).
            Such implementation would require significant resources that would have to be diverted from other initiatives.
            There are many more initiatives that the public would rather the government devote resources too.

            Dee, I don't think you can remove the symbolism of the crown from our judicial, executive and legislative an history without discarding many of the traditions of those systems. I think those traditions related to the crown are what make our systems quite different from their American counterparts. You are correct, that there is more to Canadian history than the influence of the British Empire, but I think it's hard to argue that there is anything more fundamental to our history.

          • We agree that changing the head of state will require constitutional change. However, so did the repatriation of our Constitution and implementation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. We managed to survive that ok. One could even argue that it was a very positive change in our society, and all the worrywarts who were hesitant about the change now embrace the Charter.

            My point is that, with Elizabeth II nearing the end of her reign and hapless Charles waiting in the wings, it is about time we finally removed this one last vestige of our colonial past. We are a sophisticated, multicultural nation embarrassingly with a head of state who obtained the role purely from her/his aristocratic background. We can maintain many of the traditions of the system simply by transferring the powers over to a Canadian GG head-of-state. Realistically, it wouldn't be all that different from the system we currently have.

          • Your comparison to the challenge of reforming systems to implement the abolishment of slavery is sensational but somewhat interesting. Obviously implementing those changes involved radical and disruptive change to systems, and certainly in the United States lead to a very destructive civil war and economic devastation in the U.S. south. Of course this was needed in order to ensure individual liberties and freedoms, human rights etc. But from my point of view there aren't tangible benefits to removing the crown that would make it worth the effort.

          • Yes, granted, slavery is a sensational example for this comparison. But the U.S. situation with respect to eliminating slavery is also an extreme example. Slavery was eliminated from the British Empire thanks to decades of lobbying with not nearly as much turmoil and slaughter as in the U.S.

            To your last point, I would ask what benefits does the crown provide us? (besides providing us with an aristocratic anachronism as our head of state) There is no reason why we can't have a made-in-Canada model for how we select our head of state.

          • If I can answer this, surely since you are proposing the change, the burden is on you to demonstrate some actual benefit in the change – as well as a guarantee that changing a fundamental element of our constitution won't make things worse, rather than better?

            As for the beneftis of the crown, at the very least it provides us with a tangible reminder of our history and the very raison d'etre of our status as an independent nation in North America – as opposed to a part of the republic to the south.

          • I don't need a privileged aristocrat playing dress up to provide me with any tangible reminders of Canadian history or our independence as a nation. All I have to do is travel across this beautiful land or visit places like the war cemeteries near Vimy Ridge to find those reminders.

          • You still haven't provided a convincing (or any) rationale for fundamentally altering our constitution.

            Yes, there are many other reminders of our independence and our reasons for being distinct. Loyalty to the crown, however, is a characteristic that many of those buried at Vimy would also have appreciated.

          • Well, for starters, it's highly undemocratic to have a spoiled British aristocrat as the Canadian head of state. If you can't see that, I can't help you.

          • Why is it undemocratic? In a constitutional monarchy the monarch reigns with the consent of the people. We have adopted a constitution that incorporates that principle. There is nothing undemocratic about it.

            (And descending to personal abuse of Her Majesty doesn't make your argument stronger)

      • The monarchy provides constitutional stabliity and continuity. It is not a "British" monarchy, it is a Canadian one. And its place in a modern democracy is justified by the very fact we have such a successful democracy. Constitutional monarchies are not, I admit, a particularly logical form of government. But they generally work well, as does ours. And the monarchy is a fundamental part of what makes us Canadian – including the ritual complaints about the institution. As Lord Falkland said – "What it is not necessary to change it is necessary not to change." As with so many things, that aphorism applies to the monarchy.

        • Ok, fair enough, officially it is labelled a "Canadian" monarchy. That doesn't escape the fact that our head of state mostly lives in castles in Britain, and does not live in Canada. Definitely a tad retrograde and backwards.

          Yes, we have a very successful democracy (besides having a head of state that doesn't live in the country, an appointed Senate, non-proportional representation [unlike Australia's excellent system]). My point is there is plenty of room for improvement, and the transfer of head-of-state powers from the Queen (following her death) to a Canadian GG is a reasonable next step.

          It's time for the Canadian political system to grow up and cut the final ties to a British system which has often rewarded social position and class over merit. We have moved beyond having a monarchy, and the polling of Canadians that shows an overwhelming dislike for Charles suggests this is an opportune time to cut the monarchy cord.

  5. I agree with Gilles, and I would add that those who have the condition called Pure Laine should see their Doctor as well, preferably at psychiatrist.

  6. The monarchy may be outdated, and the majority of Canadians may wish to replace it, but the majority of Canadians probably don't realise that it forms the spine of our entire legislative, executive and judicial systems. Any effort to replace it would be futile as the Canadian public would never agree on a form of replacement. And as long as the political establishment in this country remembers the aftermath of Meech Lake and Charlottetown, there won't be any efforts to reform system.

    • Good.

    • So, the crux of your argument is that the British monarch's role shouldn't be changed because Canadians are too ignorant about their own political system, and the politicians and public are currently too gutless to make a major change (as was done in 1982).

      Yaaay us! We are pathetic, if this is indeed the case.

      • As I understand it, the crux of Pete's argument is that the monarchy won't be changed because the change would have to be so extensive that Canadians would never agree on a replacement. (With aplogies to PeteTong if I got it wrong.)

        • You got it right Sigh. If this were a question on the LSAT you would get it right and Dee would get it wrong.

      • No, the crux of the argument is that we have a healthy functioning democracy in a well-regulated prosperous country. We shouldn't take that so much for granted that we decide to risk upsetting that democracy by throwing out a fundamental constitutional institution for no better reason than we are bored.

        Canada has been well served by our royal family and the institution of the monarchy. There is no reason to change the constitution in that regard and every reason not to.

      • Dee you are incorrectly assume that I am arguing on what the monarch's role should or ought to be. In fact, if you properly read and understood my statement, you would realise that I am arguing that change or attempts at change are unlikely to happen.

        I don't think politicians are necessarily gutless for not making attempts to reform the constitution, I think it is more a sign that the public has not given them a mandate to make those attempts, and that at this time there isn't an apparent new constitional end state that would be acceptable to the public and provincial governments that would be required to support it.

        • Given that Charles is disliked by most Canadians (at least, according to polling) it's an obvious time to have a referendum on the role of the monarchy in our political system.

          Will this happen? As you point, it's an unlikely prospect. Does this reflect poorly on the status quo of the Canadian political system? Absolutely. If we can't ask these kind of hard questions about our country and how it is governed, we really are pathetic.

  7. So we're all in agreement that removing the Crown as the Head of State (i.e. altering our agreed upon form of governance) would mean opening up the Constitution and that would almost assuredly be messy and divisive and ultimately pointless?

    Would somebody please pass the memo along to Harper and all the other would-be Senate reformers who are looking to do it on the cheap? Thanks.

  8. I could be mistaken but I thought Paul Wells said we may get rid of the monarchy – because Britain may in about 10 years and it will automatically happen for us…….not his exact words. I thought it was interesting because some of my British friends say there's a growing view in Britain that they aren't necessary anymore.

    My late father-in-law used to say that the British monarchy was the richest welfare family in the world.

    • For the millionth time…the British and Canadian monarchies are separate legal institutions. Same person happens to hold both jobs, along with a few others (Queen of Australia, etc., and so on, and whatnot). But the offices are entirely distinct. If the Brits were to go all Cromwell and dump their monarchy, Canada's head of state would not change. Have a look at the back of the quarter. That's her. And she ain't goin' nowhere, god bless her.

      • Hear hear! There is, of course, a chance the lines of succession will diverge anyway – if the British don't change their Act of Succession – and some future monarch or monarch-to-be converts to Catholicism or marries a Catholic. The bar to succession would clearly be unconstitutional in Canada. Whether the British (who really don't care much at all about religion any more) would allow it to impede succession is an open question.

        But in all likelihood both Britain and Canada will continue with their respective hereditary heads of state, who will retain the crowns of both Kingdoms.

      • obviously you're a monarchist……….I just said what Paul Wells indicated. Relax.

        Moulds for money can be changed.

        • I think the point is, it wouldn't happen automatically for us. We would have to take active steps ourselves if we wanted to abolish the monarchy.

  9. Gilles= remember this is the guy who wants to see the destruction of Canada!

  10. Can't stand the separatists, but that man does make me laugh.

    I'd like to ditch the monarchy. Put an outline of Parliament on the back of all of our coins and make the Gov-Gen the figureHead of State appointed by the PM. But it's a bit more complicated, mainly because all of the treaties with First Nations from the colonial and early national period aren't with the Government of Canada but with the Crown, so that alone would open a whole can of worms.

    • Actually Her Majesty is on the obverse, or "front" of our coins, not the back.

      And yes, it would be a bit complicated – although not impossible, as other countries have demonstrated. Often, as in Fiji's case, it hasn't gone well.

  11. Please educate me, someone. Since when is constitutional monarchy dépassé or archaic – isn't republicanism older?

    Have no doubt about it, Monsieur Duceppe's views are anglophobic.

    Que Dieu protège la reine !

    • "Since when is constitutional monarchy dépassé or archaic"

      When it is being viewed by a separatist.