Kudos to Bloc Québécois from hardy believers in “free and democratic” Canadian republic outside Quebec

Oct 27th, 2022 | By | Category: In Brief
“Where to Now?” by Michael Seward, October 2022.

COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. OCTOBER 27, 2022. “History has many cunning passages” (T.S. Eliot). And in one of them, in the Canadian House of Commons, yesterday’s very clear defeat of a Bloc Québécois motion to sever ties with the “British monarchy” could somewhat ironically prove the effective first step on a long inevitable journey to a “free and democratic” Canadian republic.

To avoid any confusion of the sort all too prevalent in the rather bizarre debate on the subject in 44TH PARLIAMENT, 1ST SESSION, EDITED HANSARD, No. 117… TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2022, on the journey ahead Canada will evolve from its present somewhat contradictory mix of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy on the Westminster (or British or even just English?) model, to a more logical and durable independent Canadian parliamentary democratic republic on the Westminster model.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet during question period in Canadian House of Commons, Tuesday, October 25, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick.

Happily enough, this kind of journey has already been pioneered in simple and sensible ways by Canada’s fellow former self-governing British dominions of the present-day Republic of Ireland (now outside the Commonwealth) and Republic of India (aka Bhārat Ganarājya — and still very much inside and increasingly at the centre of the Commonwealth).

The crux of the process is that you just turn the present office of governor general into a somewhat more democratically selected independent ceremonial head of state, finally replacing rather than just representing the British monarch. And then you leave everything else about Canada’s “Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom” the same.

There was something of the feeling of an effective first step on a long inevitable journey to more or less this kind of Canadian republic in (at least the initial?) headline of a short but helpful CTV News report on the October 26, 2022 vote in the House: “Bloc Quebecois’ motion to sever ties with monarchy fails, but gets backing from other MPs.” (At least some subsequent referencing headlines for the piece somehow sounded more monarchist : “Bloc motion to sever ties with ‘racist’ monarchy fails.”)

“Voting Day, Oct, 24” by Michael Seward, October 2022.

As further explained by the CTV News report (by Spencer Van Dyk) : “While the [BQ] proposal was largely opposed—seeing the motion defeated 266-44— it did have support from several non-Bloc MPs … Several NDP MPs, including Jenny Kwan, Lori Idlout, and Leah Gazan voted in favour of the motion, along with Green MP Mike Morrice, Liberal MP Joel Lightbound and Independent MP Alain Rayes.”

Our summary view : The BQ currently has 32 members. Assuming all 32 voted Yes, the 266–44 vote means an additional 12 non-BQ members also voted Yes! So we at least now have a dozen MPs beyond the Bloc already on the side of the Canadian republic better angels of our nature. And even the 32 Bloc members are still Canadian citizens. As usual, Quebec (only somewhat ironically) leads the way in Canadian nation building! (And, logically enough, Quebec has a greater percentage of its population claiming “Canadian” ethnic or cultural origins than any other province!)

New Democrat MP for Nunavut Lori Idlout, who voted for the Bloc motion on severing Canada’s ties with the British monarchy on October 26, 2022.

Again, there is a chance that the Bloc motion proposed by party leader Yves-François Blanchet and defeated on October 26, 2022 (with 44 brave early apostles standing up for the true we-the-north future) is just the start of something that will finally be big in some suitably Canadian way.

And in case this chance works out (which we of course hope and expect is finally bound to prove true), it may be useful to note the exact text of Yves-François Blanchet’s motion (in English) : “That, given that,/(i) Canada is a democratic state,/(ii) this House believes in the principle of equality for all,/the House express its desire to sever ties between the Canadian State and the British monarchy, and call on the government to take the actions necessary to do so.”

Those of us who continue to believe in a Canadian republic as the logical democratic destiny of the diverse history that goes back to the earliest northern North American encounters between Indigenous North Americans and Others from the global village in the 16th century should be happy. The long journey ahead to an ultimate constitutional amendment turning the somewhat democratized (and renamed?) office of governor general into the British monarch’s successor — as agreed to by the federal and all 10 provincial parliaments — may have just taken a quick first step forward in the new last Canadian colonial age of King Charles III.

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