The Canadian Monarchy

With the failure of republics around the world to promote social progress, unify diverse populations, and nurture democracy it is becoming more evident with each passing day the importance for the prime minister of Canada to be a strong supporter of Canada's monarchy. From previous experience the NDP has not been overly supportive of our monarchy.

 

This is unfortunate as monarchy has been shown to have advantages over republics in a number of areas including the quality of democratic norms. In a 2008 study titled "Presidents with Prime Ministers: Do Direct Elections Matter?" by Margit Tavits she found that directly-elected presidencies did nothing to lower voter apathy and were in fact associated with increased voter fatigue and a 7% drop in voter turnout for legislative elections. Likewise, she found that indirectly-elected presidents were not as non-partisan as we tend to believe them to be (since they are still an electoral asset). The recent Austrian election shows how a essentially powerless presidency can become divisive with the far-right challenger being barely defeated late last year. Further, a 2009 study titled "Constitutional Power and Competing Risks: Monarchs, Presidents, Prime Ministers, and the Termination of East and West European Cabinets" by Petra Schleiter and Edward Morgan-Jones found that constitutional monarchies had a marked preference for using elections when governments lost confidence of the legislature. Both legislative and (especially) executive presidencies had a marked preference for shuffling the people in cabinet and continuing to the end of term. If you feel the people should be consulted when a government falls this is not a good thing.

 

On the economic front things are much the same. In 2008 a study was published titled "Economic Growth and Institutional Reform in Modern Monarchies and Republics: A Historical Cross‐Country Perspective 1820‐2000" by Christian Bjørnskov Peter Kurrild‐Klitgaard which found that while both republics and monarchies handled small institutional reforms the same when larger reforms were undertaken republics tended to suffer a period of economic downturn or 'valley of tears' while monarchies did not. While republics would generally recover and catch up this effect should not be under-estimated. If large institutional changes are needed its not the size of the change that is the biggest hindrance to success; its the blow back from those negatively effected (see America). By lessening this effect monarchies are more adaptable than republics. Another study of interest was conducted in 2004 titled "Determinants of generalized trust: A cross-country comparison" by Christian Bjørnskov. Professor Bjørnskov studies 'generalized trust' which is best described as the trust you have for people who are neither your kin nor your friends. It has a large number of positive economic benefits (and a few social ones, see refugee crisis). He found that one of the factors most highly correlated with greater levels of generalized trust was whether a country had a monarchy or not. In a second study published in 2013 titled "Trust, Welfare States and Income Equality: What Causes What?" by Andreas Bergh and Christian Bjørnskov found that welfare states did not increase generalized trust but that higher levels of generalized trust helped welfare states survive. It is no accident that the most successful welfare states have tended to be monarchies.

 

With the increasingly divided USA to our south and the increasingly extreme views being embraced in France, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland (to name a few) we should remember the words of our first prime minister: "By adhering to the monarchical principle we avoid one defect inherent in the Constitution of the United States. By the election of the president by a majority and for a short period, he never is the sovereign and chief of the nation. He is never looked up to by the whole people as the head and front of the nation. He is at best but the successful leader of a party. This defect is all the greater on account of the practice of reelection. During his first term of office he is employed in taking steps to secure his own reelection, and for his party a continuance of power. We avoid this by adhering to the monarchical principle – the sovereign whom you respect and love. I believe that it is of the utmost importance to have that principle recognized so that we shall have a sovereign who is placed above the region of party – to whom all parties look up; who is not elevated by the action of one party nor depressed by the action of another; who is the common head and sovereign of all." ~John A. Macdonald

 

Our monarchical constitution has produced a series of heads of state (and related members) who have worked to make Canada great. For instance you have Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn who in 1792 famously broke up a riot between French and English saying "Part then in peace. Let me hear no more of the odious distinction of English and French. You are all His Britannic Majesty's beloved Canadian subjects.". This is, I might add, the first recorded instance of someone using the term 'Canadian' in a civic rather than ethnic sense. And of course you have our Queen who has managed to avoid in her 65 years on the throne either calling a large portion of the population deplorable (which Hillary Clinton couldn't manage over a one year period) or being a total jackass (which Trump can't go a day without doing).

 

We should be proud of our system of government and you should lead the way as prime minister. As you can see I believe our monarchy provides tangible benefits to Canadians. Its not too much to ask our elected leaders show the institution well-deserved respect.

 

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UPDATE 3/8/2017

 

I would like to address the points raised by Chris Banfill. 

 

"The idea that one person is superior to another by birthright is contrary to Canadian values"

 

This comment presupposes that support for the monarchy isn't itself a Canadian value. Which is odd as not only is the monarchy the only form of government Canada has ever had it is the only government form both the colonies of British North America and New France ever had. Even the First Nations through the wide-spread hereditary chief tradition had experience with birthright determining some form of leadership. It is one of the few institutions all of Canada's founding peoples share. Further, the role of hereditary chief among Canada's First Nations and the monarch serve similar roles. You can't oppose one without by necessity opposing the other.

 

And while we are talking about rights lets consider that cherished Canadian values like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to vote, etc are all subject to limitations as "the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society". The monarchy can be seen as one such 'exception' as it demonstrably improves how Canada functions. Speaking of which... 

 

"Even if your proposed correlation of monarchy with stability and “quality of democratic norms” actually exists today, correlation and causality are not the same thing."

 

You are correct, in a limited sense. Correlation does not equal causation, but it does point suggestively in a certain direction. Secondly, you made an assumption that the researchers quoted didn't try to take the issue of causation into account. As an example I contacted the authors of "Economic Growth and Institutional Reform in Modern Monarchies and Republics: A Historical Cross‐Country Perspective 1820‐2000" to get an idea how they dealt with the causality issue. Here are their responses:

 

Christian Bjørnskov "We got that from the reviewers. That's the reason we're doing the IV estimates in the paper that - so far as is possible - deal with the causality issue. Besides, if we had claimed that monarchies create growth, it would be a plausible argument that growth just allowed monarchy to survive. But since we claim that monarchy only affects growth around major institutional changes, I think it's much more difficult to claim the reverse causality. Anyway, we did what we could to make sure that our estimates are not biased."

 

Peter Kurrild‐Klitgaard "I understand your point but I am not sure I understand why it should be a particular problem here rather than in other regression studies (and this is in fact a panel study with a large number of observations).  As you can see we have controlled for a very wide variety of other factors (including a very large number of controls suggested by various reviewers), and the results have remained robust.  We may still need to fully understand the precise 'link' but I have no doubt that there is a connection."

 

"We have suffered no harm by having our own flag, anthem or constitution. Abolition of the monarchy would be a logical extension of what was already done to make Canada “a real country” in the minds of others."

 

We have suffered no harm from Canadians being allowed to have dual citizenships, or live (and work) outside the country. Supporting our monarchy is an extension of that open-minded attitude. But the crux of your point relies on the Queen not really being 'ours'. I'd point you to the Queen's comments regarding Canada. These are not the words of someone who has a casual relationship with her country. Your final statement is a classic example of cultural cringe. Why exactly do we care so much what other countries think about our traditions? Its a sign of immaturity that the smallest of ignorant comments by others leads some to question bedrock values of our country.

 

"Abolishing the monarchy would not require us to have a US style President who is also the Head of State or even to rid ourselves of the rule that the government must have the confidence of the House."

 

And I never said it would. But I did link studies that showed legislative republics having their own difficulties. A legislative republic would be better than a presidential republic but 'better' in this situation is akin to it being better to be shot in the foot rather than the head. I for one prefer not being shot at all.

 

"Most Canadians are not of British ancestry and most who are have no connection to the UK and are cultural Canadians who know the rules of hockey and not rugby."

 

This is irrelevant. The Queen is ruler of all.  Former Liberal Member of Parliament Hubert Badanai noted during Queen Elizabeth II's 1959 tour of Canada that "non-Anglo Saxons are more keen about the Queen than the Anglo Saxons.". Former NDP candidate Michael Valpy argued that the Crown's nature permitted non-conformity amongst its subjects, thereby opening the door to multiculturalism and pluralism. W. L. Morton felt that because Canadians owed their allegiance to a monarch, rather than to a concept like "the People", there was no pressure on anyone to conform to a singular Canadian way of life; he said "the society of allegiance admits of a diversity the society of compact does not, and one of the blessings of Canadian life is that there is no Canadian way of life, much less two, but a unity under the Crown admitting of a thousand diversities."

 

As for hockey and rugby; I can't say I care much about either of those sports. And isn't it a little silly to base a cultural test on how well you know the rules of sports you can only play half the year?

 

"Even if we did need a monarch, there is no reason why that person cannot be a Canadian rather than a foreigner who inherited that title gained over us by colonial aggression."

 

Her Majesty's title is Queen of Canada. I don't think you have much room to say she's not Canadian. And holding a conquest, that occurred in the 1700s, against the present monarch is just a tad petty. By the logic you used in the above statement the French and English should hate each other because way back when we killed a lot of each other. Rather, it is better to remember the past with a little detachment. 

 

"The symbolism of this foreign monarchy supports an anti-French mentality and false Anglo-oriented vision of Canadian history. For instance, Franco-Ontarians are thought of as recent immigrants from Québec even in communities that were originally French settlements, and have not always been free of discrimination." 

 

As I noted with the quote in the original post the monarchy has treated its subjects in an equal manner. If you have a problem with history being misinterpreted you would do better to address the poor state of history education across Canada.

 

"Nathan Cullen did no damage by proposing a referendum on abolition in his 2012 leadership bid."

 

Nathan Cullen did no damage because he lost the leadership race and his idea was stillborn. You are right that that the NDP has no duty to defend the monarchy. But then again the NDP has no duty to exist at all. But, like the monarchy, Canada is better for having it.

 

 


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  • tagged this with important to me 2017-03-22 17:15:29 -0400
  • commented 2017-03-17 20:37:02 -0400
    Mr. Wilson: First, I want to tank you for kindly directing readers to my comments on this important issue.

    Re: The idea that one person being superior to another being contrary to Canadian values must not apply to monarchy because monarchy is itself a Canadian value and has been throughout history of French and Native peoples as well. Our values can change and I would insist that the idea that one person can be superior to another by birthright was a belief of Canadians of the past. I know some rich people still believe it. At any rate monarchy and people born equal are contradictory values and we can make the change that eliminates the contradiction. The Queen signed off on our right to do it, but you don’t want to celebrate that part.

    Re: There is a correlation between monarchy with political stability and now economic growth. Even though correlation and causation are not the same thing, we should keep monarchy based on correlation. I have argued that that correlation with political stability is not true and given examples of stable republics and unstable monarchies. I stand behind my statement that such correlation does not exist. As for economic growth, constitutional monarchs of today have zero control over monetary or fiscal policies or the behaviour of corporations that are large enough to have any macroeconomic effect. In this case correlation would be coincidence which could be reversed at any time. I will also state here that our queen is also the queen of Belize and Jamaica. If you’re consulting these authors, try asking them why they would even bother to study such a small group of persons to find a relation between them and what they do not control. I think Monarchists being selective about evidence to fit a pre-determined conclusion is visible here. You should expect the more active monarchs of the third world to have an economic effect. Why don’t you blame the bad economic conditions of Kuwait, Lesotho, Saudi Arabia on the institution of monarchy when that institution has more control there? If monarchy has any economic effect, we should expect it to be negative.

    Re: Irrelevance of most of us not being British and being fans of hockey rather than rugby because the queen is queen of all. My point was and remains that most of us have no cultural interest in the monarch, even though some might favour the celebrity value of it. What culture we have and what diversity exists within it can therefore continue under a republic.

    Re: Her Majesty’s title is Queen of Canada. I don’t think you have much room to say she’s not Canadian. And holding a conquest, that occurred in the 1700s, against the present monarch is just a tad petty. This is not about the present monarch, who is as much of a foreigner as the President of France for the same reasons. Just because we cannot reverse what happened in 1759 does not mean that we should not have a republic. As for going on, it is easier without the symbolism and officialdom that you support that can reinforce attitudes, even when something happens that is obviously not intended bigotry. Dual French citizenship was made an issue regarding Michaele Jean and Tom Mulcair but not regarding John Turner’s UK citizenship. The attitude that British is Canadian and French is not had an effect, even if Tom low-keyed it. By contrast Pearson did the right thing with a Canadian anthem that is also not The Maple Leaf Forever and a flag that contained neither the Fleur de Lys nor Union Jack. Officialdom that is neither English nor French but Canadian.

    Re: the monarchy has treated its subjects in an equal manner. Acadians were burnt out of their homes and the creation of Upper Canada out of Québec territory for the Loyalists, which contained French settlements at that time, violated the Québec Act. The present monarch did not do these things, but this is not about the present monarch.

    Re: Nathan Cullen did no damage because he lost the leadership race and his idea was stillborn. I’ll agree that you would have lost the referendum that he proposed. As for damage, it should have already been done by McDonald, Pearson and Trudeau.
  • commented 2017-03-17 12:31:33 -0400
    I agree that sharing our monarch with the other Commonwealth realms has largely been beneficial to Canada since 1867. It is for most Canadians both a Canadian and international symbol of continuity, non-partisan authority, and civic participation in an increasingly globalized society. Canada’s colonial history has many shameful memories, but they are primarily tied to the policies of past governments and exploitative practices of commercial interests. The monarchy is largely a reflection of our times and it’s current incarnation should be used to celebrate and cultivate the best that Canada has to offer.
  • tagged this with important to me 2017-03-17 12:31:32 -0400
  • commented 2017-03-01 11:58:52 -0500
    The UK is not very stable right now and Canada has seen two Québec separatist referendums. I would say that Switzerland and Ireland today are quite peaceful and stable. Protesting of policies in France, Germany and the US have not always happened, can happen here and are not caused by an absence of a monarch. As for anti-immigrant sentiments, they exist in the Kingdoms of Scandinavia and Holland now has a ban on the burqa, a citizenship test only available in Dutch and a Queen. Even if your proposed correlation of monarchy with stability and “quality of democratic norms” actually exists today, correlation and causality are not the same thing.
    We have suffered no harm by having our own flag, anthem or constitution. Abolition of the monarchy would be a logical extension of what was already done to make Canada “a real country” in the minds of others.
    Abolishing the monarchy would not require us to have a US style President who is also the Head of State or even to rid ourselves of the rule that the government must have the confidence of the House.
    The idea that one person is superior to another by birthright is contrary to Canadian values even when those values are enumerated by Kellie Leitch.
    Most Canadians are not of British ancestry and most who are have no connection to the UK and are cultural Canadians who know the rules of hockey and not rugby. Even if we did need a monarch, there is no reason why that person cannot be a Canadian rather than a foreigner who inherited that title gained over us by colonial aggression.
    The symbolism of this foreign monarchy supports an anti-French mentality and false Anglo-oriented vision of Canadian history. For instance, Franco-Ontarians are thought of as recent immigrants from Québec even in communities that were originally French settlements, and have not always been free of discrimination.
    The NDP has no duty to defend the monarchy and as a party that seeks to be the party of all Canadians it should not do so. Nathan Cullen did no damage by proposing a referendum on abolition in his 2012 leadership bid.
  • commented 2017-02-24 05:49:47 -0500
    Republicanism is a failed governmental concept. Compare the peace and relative stability of the United Kingdom with the constant strife and unrest in France, or the unparalleled quality of life and happiness in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. It’s no coincidence that having a uniting symbol in the form of a King or Queen helps bring people together and creates a better life. Republicans often point to Monarchies being undemocratic, but I see no lack of democracy in any Constitutional Monarchy-led country. I would see Peter Julian be the candidate that stands up for our Monarchy; who says “There is plenty wrong with our government and system of electing MP’s, but not in the Canadian Monarchy. I see no reason to do away with the unity and stability that having a Monarchy has brought Canada over the past 150+ years.”
  • tagged this with important to me 2017-02-24 05:49:47 -0500
  • commented 2017-02-24 03:47:38 -0500
    I think this is a very important issue with me. I hope you will be an advocate, and supporter of the monarchy. -18 year old Ontarian.
  • tagged this with campaign on this 2017-02-24 03:47:38 -0500
  • tagged this with important to me 2017-02-24 03:47:38 -0500
  • published this page in What issues are important to you? 2017-02-13 01:09:11 -0500

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