Something else worth remembering about Canada in 2009 …

Nov 11th, 2009 | By | Category: In Brief
Protesters clash with riot police as they await the arrival of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in Montreal, Tuesday, Nov., 10, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

Protesters clash with riot police as they await the arrival of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in Montreal, Tuesday, Nov., 10, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

TORONTO. NOVEMBER 11, 2009. It was inevitable that the quiet journey of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall through four Canadian provinces during the first few weeks of  November this year would finally bump into some noisy protest when it reached la belle province du Quebec. (See “Flying eggs, riot police, pro-Quebec slogans greet Prince Charles” and/or “Protesters stall royals in Montreal.”)

Opinion polls nowadays regularly report that the British monarchy is even less popular in Quebec than in other parts of Canada. This has been true ever since the 1867 confederation — and of course even ever since what used to be called the British Conquest of Canada, in the North American phases of the global Seven Years War of 1756–1763 (also known as the French and Indian War in the historiography of the present-day USA). And you don’t have to be a political rocket scientist to figure out why.

In fact, the radical divisiveness induced by the British monarchy in Quebec is one of several good reasons that Canada at large should finally recognize what Rex Murphy let slip on CBC TV the other night.  As he explained: “There’s some talk that there should be a debate about Canada’s ties to the monarch. I’m not sure there’s really enough wood to start that fire. There’s not so much a debate as a kind of polite indifference … The long shadow of irrelevance  — ‘what are kings when regiment is gone’ — is obscuring the once-mighty institution of the British crown, and this tour has more than a touch of unacknowledged farewell about it.”

Of course, for various good and bad reasons, nothing is going to happen too quickly on this front. And if the serious continuing supporters of the British monarchy in Canada are now a diminishing minority, outside as well as inside Quebec, they are still capable of much noisy protest themselves. Similarly, some of those who opposed the monarchy so openly in Montreal on November 10 are still mindlessly dreaming of some kind of independent state of Quebec.

The good news, however, is that, again outside as well as inside Quebec, there are growing numbers of Canadians who would agree with the Montreal protester who “identified himself as Max Hydrogen,” and “said it is ‘ridiculous’ that the monarchy still exists in Canada, with the Queen as head of state … ‘It’s time that we get rid of it and replace it with a republic and have an elected Senate and an elected president.’”

“Sacrifices made for humanity ... It is hopeful that more Canadians are putting aside time on Nov. 11 to honour our veterans and the freedoms they fought for.” (The Globe and Mail).

“Sacrifices made for humanity ... It is hopeful that more Canadians are putting aside time on Nov. 11 to honour our veterans and the freedoms they fought for.” (The Globe and Mail).

Who can say right now exactly what the new symbolic details will be in the end? But this is something worth remembering on Remembrance Day 2009 too — in the vast northern territory from the Atlantic to the Arctic to the Pacific oceans, first brought together by the first resource economy of the multiracial northern North American fur trade, in centuries now long gone by. Canada is no longer just the first self-governing dominion of the British empire initially created by what we now call the Constitution Act, 1867. It has matured into what the Constitution Act, 1982 calls “a free and democratic society” in its own right. And it will live on long into the 21st century and beyond, because so many brave ordinary Canadians have already courageously sacrificed their lives in its defence — not because even a quite respectable prince across the ocean is still said to be the honourary colonel of the Black Watch regiment in Montreal.

Tags: , , ,


Leave Comment