Is it possible for Canada drop the Queen and become a republic?
By Jessica Berget, Assistant Editor
Of the 1000 Canadians surveyed, one in four (24 percent) said they would prefer Canada stay a monarchy, 13 percent were undecided, and 19 percent said they didn’t care.
Among the recent drama surrounding the Royal Family as per Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Oprah interview, the positivity rating of the monarchy among Canadians is at an all time low. With Barbados making plans to drop the Queen, many think that other commonwealth countries like Canada should do the same and elect their own head of state, but what would dropping the monarchy look like for Canada?
The poll done by Research Co., found that of the 1000 Canadians surveyed, one in four (24 percent) said they would prefer Canada stay a monarchy, 13 percent were undecided, and 19 percent said they didn’t care. The poll goes on to say that 45 percent of respondents said they would prefer to have an elected head of state rather than the Queen when considering the Canadian constitution.
Currently, the Queen is the head of state in 16 countries including the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, as well as nations in the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean. With Barbados making plans to become a republic later this year, one must wonder what it would take to make Canada a republic as well. For Barbados, their 30 member House of Assembly voted for the move to ditch the Queen; with the monarch being written into the Canadian Constitution, this may be more difficult for us to achieve. Under section 41 of the constitution (passed in 1982 by Pierre Trudeau), the “office of the Queen” cannot be changed unless approved by Parliament as well as the legislative assembly of each Canadian province. This means that Canada would need the approval of the House of Commons, the Senate, as well as all the provinces to sign on to this deal to make Canada a republic—something many people don’t want to deal with (especially amidst a pandemic).
Yet, there is a loophole in our constitution. The term “office of the Queen” has no real definition, meaning our constitution does not say explicitly that our monarch has to be a descendant of the Queen or that it even has to be the same monarch as in the UK. This means that Canada would just need a single parliamentary statute to crown as our monarch, or we could sign off on another country’s monarch such as Japan or Norway.
In Canada, the Queen has no real power and only serves as a symbolic figurehead. She plays no active role in Canadian politics and since she rarely comes to Canada, her daily symbolic responsibilities are done by the Governor General. Because of this, many argue that removing her as a figurehead would be better for the country. However, things may not change even if Canada does remove the Queen as head of state and moves to a fully fledged Canadian—the only real difference would be that the leader would then be in Canada instead of England. On the other hand, if Canada were to become a republic and have someone acting as a president instead of a King or Queen, there would have to be a huge change in the constitution and to our politics—and it would be expensive.