This year, the Commonwealth is celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. In anticipation, the Canadian government has prepared medals to be given to well-deserving Canadians. While it is a good gesture to honour those who have shown great contributions to their community, I cannot help but feel that it would be better represented by our own government rather than the “royal” family.
Prince Charles and Camilla have just visited Canada on a trip paid for by the Canadian taxpayers. All the media outlets share a soft spot for this privileged family with the sole exception of those in Quebec. The debate on the monarchy is a repressed one in Canada, but something needs to be said about this so-called royal family that rakes in our dollars and provides our head of state. Queen Elizabeth II on her last visit referred to Canada as her second home; after all, who would not enjoy an all-expenses paid vacation to all the top spots in Canada?
Recently, the Canadian public was fortunate enough (or so we are told) to be chosen as the first travel destination by Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton as an official married couple. The couple arrived on June 30, 2011 on a nine day tour which included a range of activities from Canada Day celebrations to exploring our remote tundra in Yellowknife and even attended a swearing-in ceremony for Canada's newest citizens. Is it not odd and inconsistent that newly arrived Canadians must swear loyalty to the Queen while Canadian born citizens never had to? Besides that, anytime one of the privileged family members comes over for a visit, we must incur all their expenses.
Catherine Middleton has been heralded as a fashion icon and an image of beauty in the same vein as the late Princess Diana. The hype surrounding the royal couple is seen to be a restoration of public opinion towards the British Monarchy, which steadily declined after the death of Princess Diana. Unfortunately some people were displeased that the “royals” would allow their prince to marry a “commoner”. This language only seeks to be divisive and reminds us that we are not people of equal opportunity because we as Canadians are simply “commoners” who should be honoured that this family even pays attention to us. The idea that this family is more important than any other Canadian family is a purely elitist and archaic concept that should remain in the past. We as Canadians should recognize that despite our socio-economic status, we can still achieve our desires with the right work ethic and that labels such as “commoners” have a negative impact on our identity as Canadian citizens.
Queen Elizabeth II will be the longest ruling British monarch if she lives to September 10, 2015, at the age of 89. If polls are indicative of anything, she may be the last monarch of Canada. According to an Ipsos-Reid poll done in June 2010, two in three Canadians agree that the royal family should have no formal role in Canadian society, while 58% of Canadians want Canada to end ties with the monarchy when Queen Elizabeth II's reign is over. The same poll found that 62% of Canadians believe that our head of state should be the Canadian-born Governor General and not the Queen. Polls conducted by Angus Reid in 1993 showed similar results with each more recent poll showing a growing movement in favour of abolishing the monarchy.
Some may wonder how much the monarchy costs us exactly, if it costs us anything at all. Ironically, a study conducted in July 2009 by none other than the Monarchist League of Canada found that it costs each Canadian $1.53 per year to maintain the monarchy, including the Governor General and the provincial lieutenant governors who represent the Queen in Canada. It may not sound like much at first, but collectively, the sum exceeds $46 million dollars a year. All the money that the monarchy is receiving could go towards improving our infrastructure or helping out “commoners”.
Instead of putting the Queen on all of our coins and on the widely circulated twenty dollar bill, we could instead choose to celebrate the many honourable Canadians that deserve to be on our currency such as Terry Fox, Sir Sanford Fleming, and Sir Frederick Banting who have all made substantial contributions to the Canadian way of life. If a more serious debate were held perhaps we would see Canadians abolishing this antiquated relic from our colonial past.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of The Prince Arthur Herald.
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