God save the Queen, whichever one she is - Macleans.ca

God save the Queen, whichever one she is


Dan Gardner wades into what our Kady, Andrew and John have spent the day variously wrestling with.

Look, I know most people think this is all about toasts at Rideau Hall and whose face goes on the coins. But it’s much more than that. This is about Canadian history and heritage, yes, but fundamentally it’s about the constitution: The Crown is the cornerstone of our legal order and the head of state is its guarantor, possessing emergency powers in the event of impasse or breakdown. Even the staunchest republican should agree that it is absurd that these changes can be made without the slightest popular discussion or consent.

If Michaelle Jean wants to be Queen, let her say so and put it to a vote. That at least would have the virtue of honesty, which is considerably better than what she is doing now.


God save the Queen, whichever one she is

  1. The number of people terrified of even the smallest change in this country amazes me.

    Actually it isn't even that. Past GGs have called themselves the same thing, notably Romeo Leblanc.

    We seem to have developed the habit of sneering at female ones, and mocking them as 'wannabe' queens.

  2. "If Michaelle Jean wants to be Queen, let her say so and put it to a vote. "

    I don't think she ever said that she wants to be Queen. The President is the head of state of the US but he is not king – though Nixon did claim to have the power of an absolute monarch. The Queen is not an absolute monarch herself!

    Interesting subject though, and I am glad that we're bringing up the Crown. I don't think that what belongs to the Crown of England belongs to the Queen, right?

  3. Dan Gardner nailed it.

    Jean has serious delusions of grandeur.

  4. So does His Harperness. Perfect symmetry.

  5. Agreed on the Gardner point.

    I think a fair question is how institutionalized this is, as in within Rideau Hall staff? Makes sense to them, they become really important.

    I am sure it is aided and abetted by the occupants….clarkson and jean…..perhaps the next one will clean house.

    As gardner says, you want to make the change, make in the open….but a stealth pattern, seen it on other issues too many times before.

  6. I'm not sure I've seen enough to tell me this is actually some kind of coup attempt as opposed to the GG (and/or her staff) just being lazy with their language, and not being careful enough to use appropriate rhetoric (which is highly problematic, but not quite the same as the Governor General wanting to usurp the powers of the Sovereign).

    If it's more than a slip of the tongue though, then "Hear! Hear!" to what Gardner wrote.

  7. As an aside, one of my favorite reads is the minutes of the committee of the HoC that looked into the organization of that infamous circumpolar trip by former GG Clarkson. I have read them at least five times. The recurring theme is MPs always had to concede their ignorance of the function of GG and its workings. They had created a scandal because they had no idea what they were talking about.

    Stephen Harper, who was appointed prime minister by Madame Jean, should think twice before getting into this kind of arguments. The man who promised to pass a law on fixed elections date should by now realize that he's no more constitutional lawyer than economist. He is a politician playing the political game.

    And boy do I agree with Tillium concerning our habit habit of sneering at female ones, and mocking them as 'wannabe' queens. There is large dose of sexism here, IMO.

  8. I think it's a slip of the tongue that betrays her inner view of her own role.

  9. Except that in this case the PM is correct. I wouldn't get into a scrap with the GG if I were Harper either, but I see this as a case of the PM inserting himself between the Queen and the GG, in defense of the Crown, which is kinda his job.

    As for the sexism of mocking women as "wannabe queens", fair enough, in a broader context, but in this case I don't think one can call this sexism, as the argument (which I'm not sure is correct) is that it appears that the Governor General may want to usurp the powers of an ACTUAL QUEEN!!! Saying of a woman generally that she "just wants to be Queen" may very well be sexist. How else can you frame it though if your argument is that a woman literally wants to usurp the powers of a sitting Sovereign?

  10. It was never said about Romeo Leblanc, and he referred to himself as our head of state. No one even hinted at some kind of coup against the monarchy. In fact, I doubt anyone even noticed.

    • Fair enough, I suppose, however I'd like to think that if Romeo Leblanc had been publicly corrected for his error by the PMO that he wouldn't have launched a new website days later that apparently repeats the same error over and over again.

      I also don't really think this is really some kind of coup myself, but even if it's not an attempt to usurp or undermine the powers and prerogatives of the Sovereign, at the very least it seems to me that it could be described as perpetuating misinformation to Canadians about the fundamental nature of their government.

      The very fact that people could think it was somehow untoward of the PMO to issue a press release containing nothing more shocking than a simple statement of fact is quite disturbing to me.

  11. The GG website clearly states: "Since Confederation in 1867, Canada has been a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the sovereign and Canada's head of State."

    what is in the water today?

  12. I hate these arguments that are about supposedly contradictory interpretations of the role of the GG in Canadian Government but actually about certain people thinking that Ms Jean is getting uppity.

    A little like down south in red state land.

    • I'm actually surprised that it took this long for the "You're racist!" argument to present itself.


  13. I am the first person who never wants to see the day that Tampon and Camilla become the King & Queen of Canada. Nevertheless, we have a constitution and it behooves us to adhere to it until it is changed. By all means let's have a referendum (my god I hate that word) to establish the GG as our real head of state. But, until that happens, I am sad to say the Queen remains our head of state whether we like it or not (and I personally do not).

    • Just to let you know, even if you hold and win your referendum the Queen will still be Head of State.

      Successful votes in the House of Commons, the Senate, and all ten provincial legislatures. That's what you're going to need to make the Governor General our Head of State. (BTW, the last time such an idea was even floated it was rejected unanimously by all ten provincial Premiers, including legendary monarchist Rene Levesque).

      However, I applaud your openness to following the Constitution until it's legitimately changed. I may disagree with Republicanism, or attempts to change the nature of our governance in this way, but I in no way object to honest and legitimate attempts to make said changes a reality by following the rule of law.

      Pretending the Constitution is meaningless always gets me riled up though.

  14. Let's see if I can get this straight. The Queen who is our Head of State (on paper only); lives in Britain and does NO work as Head of State. The GG is not our Head of State; but lives in Canada, and does ALL the work as Head of State. Folks, just do away with this stupid monarchy and then we can solve this problem.

  15. The Queen who is our Head of State (on paper only); lives in Britain and does NO work as Head of State.

    You don't know much about Queen Elizabeth's daily agenda, do you? She's arguably one of the hardest working people in our government's executive hierarchy. Seriously, do you think what Stephen Harper does every day should be called "work"? God only knows how many golf courses he knows like the back of his right hand.

    By the way–yes, Elizabeth lives in Britain, but the people who really rule Canada live in Washington D.C., a situation that deserves more of your concern than the vagaries of our monarchical heritage.

    • "…but the people who really rule Canada live in Washington D.C."

      Er, what?