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What would Canadian politics look like without a Queen? – Policy Options

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The televised interview of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry with Oprah Winfrey in early March has resulted in the usual calls for the abolition of the monarchy. These are channeled through the anti-colonialism prism. The British Empire was racist and the monarchy is an integral part of that past. However, Canada’s constitutional straitjacket makes abolition here highly unlikely. At best, it would take a long and contentious process, something Canadians likely do not want. The optimal republican pathway seems to rest upon attrition through rising indifference.

What happens to Canada if the United Kingdom abolishes the monarchy? Simply put, we would be constitutionally stranded, and that would create a crisis of the first order. Many questions would need to be answered.

The British monarchy has lasted for more than 1,100 years and REX-IT – or a regional exit from the U.K. – would be startling. While public support for the institution may be falling, it appears to be buttressed by widespread appreciation for Queen Elizabeth. Prince Charles, her successor-in-waiting, is not nearly as popular. The revelation by Meghan and Harry about the toxic comment concerning their son’s skin colour has highlighted the undeniable racist nature of British colonialism.

People ask why they should respect and honour a racist institution. Anyone who has attended a Canadian citizenship ceremony has seen people conflicted. They are proud to become a citizen but may be unhappy with having to commit to “bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors.”

To abolish the monarchy in the U.K., all that is required is a majority vote in its Parliament. But even after that, Canada would still be a constitutional monarchy and the still-living monarch residing in the U.K. would still be the King or Queen of Canada. Of course, the former British monarch might decline to continue in the Canadian role (perhaps informed by public opinion that has turned against maintenance of the British connection).

The foundational role of the monarchy in Canada’s constitutional framework is set by Section 17 of the Constitution Act of 1867 which states: “There shall be one Parliament for Canada, consisting of the Queen, an Upper House styled the Senate, and the House of Commons.” Thus, any REX-IT would require action to be taken regarding the Queen and her representatives (the Governor General and lieutenant-governors) in Canada

Changes to the role of the Queen in Canada requires approval of the legislative assemblies of all provinces, the Senate and the House of Commons. Unanimity, being a high bar, may encourage delaying, even disruptive, behaviour. Should we be confident that the variegated Canadian public would be much agreed on various matters?

Consider the Governor General.

The very name, infused with our colonial past, would surely be debated, as would the role of the head of state. Traditionalists would argue that the parliamentary system (if that’s what we opt for) necessitates that a non-partisan must grant or deny the prime minister’s request to prorogue or dissolve Parliament, forcing an election.

In very rare circumstances, the current Governor General asks someone to attempt to form a government that has the confidence of the House. This may happen when there has been a sudden death or resignation of a prime minister or when an election result has been inconclusive.

If we stay with the parliamentary system, how will the new head of state be chosen? Perhaps in the longstanding pattern of Canadian politics, the process will be dominated by elites, working amongst themselves.

However, others will want a populist option – and have the decision made by vote. Should the method of appointment be subject to an authorizing referendum? Is a simple majority sufficient or do we need some formula, involving percentages of the vote, number of provinces (say, seven), or even, say, Ontario, Quebec and some number, but not all, of the Atlantic provinces and of the four western provinces? What about the territories, with miniscule populations but an enormous swath of Canada’s land? Indigenous peoples will point to Section 35.1(b) of the Constitution Act (1982) to establish their necessary inclusion.

Over the long arc of previous constitutional discussions, a clear pattern is discernible. Matters on the table become more diverse, more complicated, more symbolically existential, with a widening set of actors, making it harder and harder to produce a coherent agreement. Why would Canada, in its moment of post-colonial liberation, reach agreement? Would the ghosts of the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Accord thread their way through our debates?

Are our bonds between our various diverse communities – east and west, north and south – resilient and strong enough not to fracture?

There is another matter of compelling importance. The Supreme Court of Canada in  Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia (2014) determined that there exists a “special relationship between the Crown and the Aboriginal group in question,” which gives Indigenous land “special status.”

It also reinforces the special relationship established in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 between the British Crown and the Indigenous peoples of Canada, which has sometimes been described as “The Indian Magna Carta” and the “Indian Bill of Rights.” Its signal importance for Indigenous rights is highlighted by its inclusion in Section 25 of the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Abolition of the monarchy by the British people will not happen precipitously. However, politics in the internet age can change quickly. The U.K. referendum on its membership in the European Union produced a surprising result, reflecting an unleashing of latent populistic forces.

For Canada, the monarchy is not a disposable ornament. It is embedded deeply in its constitutional architecture. If the U.K. abolishes of the monarchy, Canada’s ability to handle quickly any necessary changes will be hampered by its constitutional straitjacket.

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Prince Philip took a keen interest in Canada, but stayed above politics, former GGs and PM say

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When former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien met the late Prince Philip for the first time, he told him that for an Englishman, his French was very good.

“He said ‘I’m not English and I’ve spoken French since before you were born,’” Chrétien told the Star Friday, commenting on his many encounters over 50 years with the Duke of Edinburgh.

“He was not dull, let me put it that way,” Chrétien said. “He had some strong views. Sometimes he had to show discipline to not speak up more than he would have wished.”

Philip, born in Greece in 1921 and husband to Queen Elizabeth II for over 73 years, died at the age of 99 on Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said he first met Philip when he was a little boy, described him as “a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others.”

Former prime ministers and governors general spoke of a man who understood his role and knew not to get involved in politics, but who was very knowledgeable about Canada and took a keen interest in the country’s success.

“I was always impressed by their knowledge,” Chrétien said of Philip and the Queen, Canada’s head of state.

He said he can recall Philip asking about the prospect of Quebec separating from the rest of the country. “Not in a very political fashion, just in terms of interest. Of course he was interested to not see Canada break up. He would certainly say that to me.”

 

Statements from former prime ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper highlighted Philip’s devotion to the Canadian armed forces and charitable organizations, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, an international self-development program for young people.

Former governors general David Johnston and Michaëlle Jean, through their role as the Queen’s representative in Canada, were also able to get to know Philip more intimately, particularly at the Queen’s Balmoral Castle estate in Scotland.

Jean recalls being “overwhelmed” by all the protocol recommendations ahead of a Balmoral visit with her husband and six-year-old daughter prior to taking office in 2005, only to find Philip and the Queen greeting them at the door, with Philip paying special attention to her daughter.

“The memory I keep of Prince Philip is that of an affable, caring, elegant and warm man,” Jean told the Star, adding he was a man who was very attentive to detail.

She recalled attending a barbecue on the Balmoral estate, just the four of them, and Philip telling her, “Don’t forget to congratulate Her Majesty for her salad dressing, because she made it herself.”

What Jean also saw was a man sometimes hampered by the limitations of his role, like when he talked about one of his favourite topics, the environment.

“He said ‘I do a lot about it, I raise awareness, I take actions…I feel that whatever I do, no one cares,’” Jean recounted. “What I got from that is how lonely he felt…There was a sense of not feeling appreciated in proportion to his contributions, a feeling of being misunderstood.”

Johnston, who succeeded Jean, said Canada’s constitutional monarchy — where the head of state is politically neutral and separate from elected office — is an “important and precious” form of government, and Philip was key to making it work.

Philip showed leadership as a servant, Johnston said, “not taking centre stage, but by ensuring that the Queen and the monarchy were front row and centre.

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“He played such an important structural role, and did that with great diligence and commitment. He was selfless in that respect,” Johnston said in an interview.

For Matthew Rowe, who works on the Royal Family’s charitable endeavours in Canada, the Duke of Edinburgh’s political value to Canada was precisely that he was not political — that he, along with the rest of the monarchy, provided a stabilizing force outside of the partisan fray.

He was dynamic, irascible, exasperating, intriguing. And he was always three steps behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth, who utterly adored him throughout their 73-year marriage, flaws, faux pas and all.

“His presence, and the role of Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family, has been to be able to represent the nation, to represent Canadian interests, and commemorate Canadian achievements without being tied to a particular political ideology or regional faction,” Rowe, who met Philip at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in 2010, said in an interview.

 

Philip’s role meant he could speak more frankly than the Queen in public, and spoke “quite thoughtfully” about the constitutional monarchy in Canada, said University of Toronto history instructor Carolyn Harris.

At a press conference in Ottawa in 1969, Philip famously said that the monarchy doesn’t exist “in the interests of the monarch…It exists solely in the interest of the people. We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”

Philip had a good, joking relationship with Johnston’s wife, Sharon. He recounted how the two joined the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral in August 2010, prior to Johnston’s swearing-in later that year.

One evening, they were returning to the castle from a barbecue at a renovated shepherd’s hut on the estate — just the four of them, the Queen driving with Johnston in one land rover, and Philip driving with Sharon in the other ahead of them on narrow, highland roads.

“We were coming home at about 10 p.m., as black as could be, he and Sharon were ahead, kind of weaving, and we could hear these gales of laughter coming out. They were cracking jokes at one another,” Johnston said.

“I had a vision of him going over the edge and down half a mile into the valley, and my first thought is: Do the Queen and I rustle down to rescue them?”

Chrétien said “it must be terrible” for the Queen to now find herself alone after a marriage that lasted for more than 70 years. He noted it’s been almost seven months to the day since he lost his wife, Aline.

 

“It’s a big change in life but she’s an extremely courageous person and she will face the situation with the strength that she has been able to show to the world for the almost 70 years she’s been queen,” Chrétien said.

With files from Alex Boutilier and Kieran Leavitt

 

 

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After warning, McConnell softens posture on corporations’ taking political stances

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., softened his stance on corporations’ getting involved in politics Wednesday, a day after he warned companies not to weigh in on hot button issues.

“I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are,” McConnell told reporters. “My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill.

“They got intimidated into adopting an interpretation … given by the Georgia Democrats in order to help get their way,” he said.

McConnell was referring to a controversial voting law recently passed in Georgia, which came about in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s campaign of falsehoods about the election result in the state last fall.

The law led the CEOs of Delta and Coca-Cola — which are based in Atlanta — to condemn the measure. And last week, Major League Baseball pulled this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest. The game will, instead, be played in Colorado.

In recent weeks, McConnell has excoriated corporate America for boycotting states over various GOP-led bills. He said Tuesday that it is “stupid” for corporations to take positions on divisive political issues but noted that his criticism did not extend to their donations.

“So my warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” McConnell said in Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s not what you’re designed for. And don’t be intimidated by the left into taking up causes that put you right in the middle of one of America’s greatest political debates.”

Major League Baseball’s decision drew the most outrage from Republicans, as Trump called for a boycott of baseball and other companies that spoke out against the Georgia law. McConnell said Tuesday that the latest moves are “irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.”

McConnell, long a champion of big money in politics, however, noted Tuesday that corporations “have a right to participate in a political process” but said they should do so without alienating “an awful lot of people.”

“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he said. “I’m talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or a state because you don’t like a particular law that passed. I just think it’s stupid.”

Source:- NBC News

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Facebook Removes 1,000 Fake Accounts Seeking to Sway Global Politics

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(Bloomberg) — Facebook Inc. said it removed 14 networks representing more than 1,000 accounts seeking to sway politics around the world, including in Iran and El Salvador, while misleading the public about their identity.

Most of the removed networks were in the early stages of building their audiences, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Tuesday. Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday, part of its monthly reporting on efforts to rid its platforms of fake accounts, represents one of the larger crack downs by the company in recent months.

“We have been growing this program for several years,” said David Agranovich, Facebook’s global threat disruption lead. “I would expect to see this drum beat of take downs to continue.”

In one example, the company removed a network of more than 300 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and the photo-sharing app Instagram that appear to be run by a years-old troll farm located in Albania and operated by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq opposition group. The group appeared to target Iran, but also other audiences with content about Iran, according to a report released by Facebook.

The group was most active in 2017, but increased its activity again in the latter half of 2020. It was one of a handful of the influence campaigns that likely used machine learning technologies capable of creating realistic profile photos to the naked eye, Facebook said in the report.

The company also removed 118 accounts, eight pages and 10 Instagram accounts based in Spain and El Salvador for violating the company’s foreign interference policy. The group amplified criticism of Henry Flores, a mayoral candidate in Santa Tecla, El Savador and supportive commentary of his rivals, the company said.

The social media giant also took down a network of 29 Facebook accounts, two pages, one group and 10 Instagram accounts based in Iran that was targeting Israel. The people behind the network posed as locals and posted criticism about Isreali prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Facebook. The company also took down networks based in Argentina, Mexico, Egypt and other nations.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said the company has improved its ability to identify inauthentic accounts, but said bad actors continue to change their strategies to avoid Facebook’s detection.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Source:- BNN

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