Images borrowed from the Royal web site

God save the Queen, and God bless the Queen's loyal Canadian subjects: a practical discourse on the meaning of our Monarchy

White Rock B.C. - Tuesday, March 4, 2008- by: Brian Marlatt
  God save the Queen from those of little understanding or ancient prejudice. Spare her, too, the jibes of those who will always treat Canadian institutions with disdain or regard them as meaningless.

The importance of the Crown and the monarchy is cultural, political, and constitutional.

Culturally, it reminds all of us that Canadians are members of the wider Commonwealth and heirs to its history, beginning with the UK but extending well beyond it. That is an important thing, not just because of the British connection - although that is central as a beginning point and unifying - but on a multi-cultural and multilingual level, as well, that allows a shared understanding that is lacking in other connections. As Canadians, we have much more in common with Australians or Trinidadians and share a larger number of assumptions than with our American cousins - it is a matter of history, traditions, and values.

Politically, the monarch provides a practical safeguard against identification of the nation with any particular party or political stripe. You are every bit a Canadian even though you may not favour whatever party is in power at the moment. In republics that is not necessarily the case; tribalism and the politics of exclusion surrounding political "movements" are less a danger to democracy in a parliamentary democracy where the head of government must suffer the sometimes withering criticism of the opposition in the Commons - something that does not happen in a republic where allegiance to "movements" or "communities" usurps allegiance to all of our citizens as is meant in appeals to "Queen and Country."

It is essential that the Head of State, the Queen as represented by the Governor General, and the head of government are not the same person. In essence, the head of state is the embodiment of the nation, the personification. To a Canadian, the prime minister is just another politician to be found wanting or able according to his or her abilities, insights and policies; presidents are often politicians above the law - going to war in Iraq to "support the troops and the President" may have the same ring as "For Queen and Country" but it also has a political dimension that makes the present US misadventure in Iraq all the more understandable and probable of repetition.

Constitutionally, the monarch speaks to the whole of the nation. You are a Canadian first, not an Albertan, Newfoundlander, Quebecois, or Ontarian. Sovereignty of the people flows through the Crown, not through the state. Thus, while "states rights" is argued by Americans and was the reason for their Civil War, throughout our Commonwealth and in our constitution it is understood that we are one nation though the peoples within Canada may be seen as more diverse and distinct. In this sense, Australian constitutional provisions, flowing from the Queen as the Head of State, provides that in areas of dispute between state and federal law in areas of state jurisdiction, federal law will apply, and does so because the sovereignty of the people, of all Australians, is grounded solidly in the Crown. In Canada, in our particular form of federalism defined in our constitution, we are "federally united" into "one Dominion under the Crown." These are nuanced issues of importance that are sometimes not fully appreciated until they are they are lost.

They are the stuff of national unity; they are reason enough to feel pride in saying "God Save the Queen," and God bless the Queen’s loyal Canadian subjects.



Brian Marlatt



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