The Monarchy and Canadian Independence
by Arthur Bousfield and Garry Toffoli
1. There are different types of monarchies and different types of republics in the world but every independent country can be categorised as either a monarchy or a republic. Independence may involve changing from one system to the other or may be achieved within the same system. That is, independence has nothing inherently to do with monarchism or republicanism.
2. Canada evolved from a monarchical colony to a semi-autonomous monarchy to a fully independent monarchy. The highlights of its evolution are as follows.
1497 – John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) stakes the claim to Canada of King Henry VII of England .
1534 – Jacques Cartier stakes the claim to Canada of King François I of France .
1663 – New France is taken from the control of the Company of 100 Associates and made a Royal Province under King Louis XIV like any other province of France .
1763 – The Treaty of Paris transfers New France from the sovereignty of King Louis XV of France to King George III of Great Britain , establishing a single royal line for what is now Canada .
1867 – The Dominion of Canada is established and “Executive authority of and over Canada is declared to continue and be vested in the Queen”. A new Canadian Parliament is established of which the Queen is head and courts are established in the Queen’s name. In short, Queen Victoria simply established a new set of Canadian advisors for Canadian affairs. The Fathers of Confederation intentionally and explicitly established that government would be conducted by the Queen personally or in the Queen’s name rather than the frequent colonial practice of it being conducted in the Governor-General’s name to make it clear that Canada was not a mere colony.
1921 – King George V adopts Royal Arms for Canada which are now (since 1931) the Queen’s Arms of Dominion and Sovereignty in Right of Canada.
1931 – The Statute of Westminster establishes the equality of each of the King’s realms and the Governor-General’s position is solely the personal representative of the King. King George V becomes the first Canadian in international law by virtue of the Statute.
1937 – At the Coronation of King George VI Canada is mentioned specifically for the first time as one of the King’s realms in the coronation oath of a sovereign.
1939 – King George VI gives royal assent in the Canadian Parliament, the first time a Sovereign has been present in person in the Canadian Parliament and the first time since Queen Victoria ’s mid-reign that a Sovereign has given royal assent in person anywhere in the Empire and Commonwealth (including Britain ).
1953 – The Queen officially adopts the title “Queen of Canada” in the new Canadian Royal Style and Titles: Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom , Canada and Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
1957 – The Queen opens the Canadian Parliament, the first time a Sovereign has done so in person. In 1977 the Queen also opens a session of Parliament in Ottawa .
1962 – The Queen adopts a personal flag for use in Canada based on her Canadian Arms.
1982 – As Queen of Canada Her Majesty proclaims the Constitution Act 1982 on 17th April, which revised the Canadian Constitution, maintaining the monarchical nature of Canada and the Queen’s authority as Sovereign. In March, as Queen of the United Kingdom , Her Majesty had given royal assent to the Canada Act which provided for the Constitution Act and transferred the residual powers of amending the Canadian Constitution held by the British Parliament to the authority of the Queen of Canada.
3. The position of Canada today is that it is an independent constitutional monarchy under the Sovereignty of Queen Elizabeth II of the House of Windsor. Canada ’s Queen is also the Queen of fifteen other countries and Head of the Commonwealth of Nations . The Canadian status is not dependent on the actions of the other countries. If in (the highly unlikely) event that the United Kingdom became a republic Canada would still be a monarchy under the sovereignty of the Queen or her successor. All provisions of the B.N.A. Act 1867 regarding the monarchy, such as the Queen’s executive, legislative and judicial roles, are still in effect in the Canadian Constitution, and changes to the Monarchy can only be made by a proclamation under the authority of the Queen authorising a resolution supported by the Senate, the House of Commons and every provincial legislative assembly.
4. Monarchy has played the pivotal role in maintaining the independence of Canada in North America . Canada emerged after the American Revolution as that part of North America (English and French) which wished to remain a monarchical society. Being a monarchy has since provided Canada with a distinct identity from the United States and is the philosophical basis (the state as family) for the social differences that have evolved between what were essentially the same people two and a quarter centuries ago (i.e. Crown corporations; public broadcasting; social welfare and health schemes; appointed judiciary; peace, order and good government; multiculturalism; etc.).
Copyright © 2004/2013 Arthur Bousfield and Garry Toffoli (Fealty Enterprises)