Should Canada separate from the monarchy and become a republic?

Those pushing for the creation of a Canadian republic believe severing ties with the Crown could be easy but, as Mark McAllister explains, the monarch's systemic roots run deep.

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the ascension of Charles as King of England, the question has come up again whether Canada should remain apart of the monarchy or become its own republic?

Tom Freda, the National Director of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, is an advocate for separating the country from the monarchy and he believes it wouldn’t be difficult to do.

“The truth is the constitution doesn’t even mention the monarchy. It mentions the office of the Queen. And several legal actions, even our 2013 Succession to the Throne Act, that states that the Canadian government can determine who assumes the Office of the Queen,” explained Freda.

He said the term “the Crown” doesn’t necessarily have to be synonymous with the monarchy.

“[Over] 70 years, our office of the queen has evolved,” explained Freda. “Eventually Canada will have to deal with this. We’ll have to open the Constitution. And it’s not as difficult as some say.”

The Director at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, Peter Loewen said it is a curious issue facing Canada in the years ahead. “We’re one of the world’s longest running continuous democracies and our head of state lives somewhere else. They’re not a citizen of this country and they don’t come up out of this country so you can understand the value side of it.”

“We have a system of government in which authority is thought to be vested in the crown, not in the people in a sense but it’s an integral part into how we make laws in our country,” said Loewen.

Freda said this could be a defining moment in Canadian independence.

“Until we have the ability to select our own head estate independently from our own citizens, and we delegate that to an overseas position led by someone who lives in a castle….we are totally dependent.”

He clarifies that Canada can still recognize the Royal Family, there just doesn’t need to be a constitutional link.

“We can still recognize them as head of the Commonwealth. We can still have them visit us but you won’t find more popularity for the royals anywhere in the world. Just look at all the republics that are covering this.”

His idea is to have the governor general who preforms the function of a head of state in Canada become the official head of state.

“The function of a Canadian head of state is carried out by our governor general. That is a process that started 70 years ago and over that. We now have a governor general that is virtually the same powers as a parliamentary president anywhere else in the world. Let’s just now make it permanent.”

Freda added this has already been done before in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Malta.

“This is not reinventing the wheel. This is using international precedent to deal with something that should’ve been done decades ago.”

Loewen understands why the issue is now coming up.

“For those who are Republicans, those who want to not have a queen or perhaps an elected head of state from Canada, it’s an opportunity for them to talk about it even fit might not be the most polite time to talk about it.”

While Freda said he believes it wouldn’t be too hard of a process, Loewen said it would be a difficult journey.

“It’s a major change to our Constitution. You can’t have a major change to the Constitution without inviting every province to consent to it

Written into the very fabric of the constitution is the statement that “executive powers and authority over Canada be continued and vested in the Queen,” with wording throughout related to the role of Governor General as representative.

With the Queen’s visit in 1982, changes to the constitution only reaffirmed the monarch as head of this country.

There is an article in the Constitution that details any amendments to the office of the Queen would need unanimous consent of both the Senate, House of Commons, and the legislative assembly of each province.

“It’s always probably a good idea to talk about how our democratic institutions and how our institutions of government can be improved but, boy, it’s not a simple flip of a switch to go from a monarch as her head of state to something else,” said Loewen.

He adds the benefits of changing the head of state are unclear to him. “What in our system of government isn’t working right now that would work better if we had a Canadian head of state, perhaps elected or perhaps chosen by the house of commons. It’s not clear to me what benefit we would get from that.”

According to a poll conducted in April, half of those survey say Canada should not remain a monarchy in coming generations. One-quarter would keep the tradition and form of government in place, while a similar number are unsure.

While 55 per cent of Canadians support remaining a constitutional monarchy as long as the Queen was alive, support for King Charles and Queen Camilla dropped to 34 per cent in the country.

Renewed calls for a republic have also grown louder in Australia where the current prime minster has previously said he’s in favour and has appointed a Member of Parliament(MP) to explore options.

The country had a referendum in 1999 in which the matter of replacing the Governor General as head of state was defeated.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today