Apparently Charles and Camilla* are wending their way towards BC at this time. This Royal visit, as with all Royal visits sparks off the call-in shows asking whether we should abolish the monarchy all together. The problem with the question is that many people do not really understand the role of the monarchy in our political system.
Most countries have a head of state and a head of government and usually, these 2 positions are held by 2 different people. For example, in Canada the head of government is the Prime Minister and the head of state is the Governor-General who is the Queen’s representative in Canada. In Canada, if the Queen were here she would take over the responsibilities of the Governor-General, for example reading the speech from the throne. In most cases, the head of state only has ceremonial powers. In the United States, the President is both the head of state and the head of government.
Those who advocate abolishing the monarchy do not generally have anything in mind to replace the head of state functions. Having a separate head of state allows that person to rise above the politics that would otherwise hamstring a head of government. It means that the greeting of dignitaries and other heads of state can be done on behalf of all Canadians rather than it devolving to a partisan event. Although the Monarchy is completely out of date, I believe that there is value in retaining the monarchy.
Through the British Monarchy we are part of the British Commonwealth. We share closer relationships with other, former British colonies. These relationships may increase our ability to trade with other member nations. The Monarchy also provides a degree of continuity – while political heads may change, the head of state does not. It does cost money to support the monarchy however most of this is borne by British taxpayers. Canadians do pay to support the office of the Governor-General.
Having a separate head of state can be indispensable in times of political crisis. In times of unstable government, having a head of state who can make serious decisions and intervene if necessary is priceless. The Governor-General and the presence of the monarchy help to stabilize countries and provides guidance and a final decision making process.
Before we can entertain plans to eradicate the monarchy in Canada we would need to have serious discussions about what would replace it.
*Huh! I bet you all thought I was incapable of blogging about another subject other than H1N1 and dogs!