Debate on the Monarchy in Canada

Canadians are divided on whether the monarchy should be abolished and the country should have an elected head of state instead. Proponents claim that Canada has a long legacy and is the cumulative work and effort of many generations. The monarch is the personification of the state, which is an abstraction, and its government and laws. Opponents point out that the royal family is nothing more than celebrities and should not have a formal role in Canada.

The Monarchy Debate

According to proponents, the monarchy is an institution that is deeply interwoven with the Canadian state and constitutional order. It is the organizing principle of governance and the foundation of the executive power. It is also the centrepiece of legislatures and courts and the symbol of provincial and federal sovereignties. The monarch is also the foundation of a fair and just civil service, the Indian treaties, and the system of land tenure. Constitutional experts also point out that any change of this magnitude will not be easy as it will require a constitutional amendment that all provinces support. Even if all provinces were to support such an amendment, a radical change can be expensive. If Canada becomes a republic with an elected head of state, exercising formal powers will require more human resource than the Governor General. Opponents, on the other hand, believe that the monarchy should be abolished because the Queen is not a Canadian citizen, does not live in the country, was not born here, and knows little about political and social life in Canada.

What Canadians Think

Polls show that Canadians are divided on the issue, with 61 percent of respondents saying that the monarch should not have any formal role in the country. According to YouGov data, support for constitutional monarchy varies by age group. In the 45 – 54 age group, 40 percent support abolishing the monarchy while in the 55+ age group, 46 percent support such a change. An Ipsos poll also shows that Canadians are somehow sceptical about the role of the institution after Queen Elizabeth’s reign. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan 63 percent of respondents support this, and the figure is even higher in Quebec (70 percent).  The group of opponents is a minority in other provinces, including British Columbia (46 percent), Ontario (46 percent), and Atlantic Canada (49 percent). A small share of surveyed participants (24 percent) strongly agrees that Canada should not have any formal ties with the royals after the end of the Queen’s reign. The majority of respondents (81 percent) also believe that the Monarch “has done a good job”. The poll was conducted in the form of online interviews and included over 1,000 Canadians, showing that overall people are supportive of the Queen in her role as the head of state. What Canadians are less supportive of is the monarchy as an institution and its role in society.