MPs and senators could avoid the centuries-old oath of allegiance to King Charles if Liberal MPs pass their pending private members’ bill.
Canadian monarchists say the bill is republicanism by stealth, a massive package that would slowly chip away at the monarchy’s status in Canada without actually abolishing the monarchy through long constitutional battles with the provinces. They claim that this is part of their efforts.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Republican Party has hailed the bill as a necessary step toward ridding the country of what they say is an outdated system.
Article 128 the constitution requires All newly elected or appointed members of parliament take an oath of “loyalty and true allegiance” to the reigning monarch.
Under Canada’s founding documents, members cannot legally hold office in Parliament until they have sworn an oath to the sovereign.
monarchs listed in oath of a group is Queen Victoria, although the oath includes a statement that her actual name may change “from time to time”.
Bill C-347, introduced by New Brunswick Liberal MP René Arsenault, would overturn that tradition by allowing federal politicians to take the “oath of office.”
The abbreviated oath would simply state that the officeholder will carry out their duties “in Canada’s best interests, upholding the Constitution.”
Arsenault declined to be interviewed by CBC News.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said now is not the time to debate the role of the monarchy in Canada.
Prime Minister Trudeau praised King Charles as someone who is “deeply aligned” with Canada’s values, including fighting climate change and pursuing Indigenous reconciliation.
A spokesperson for Justice Minister Arif Virani said the government “will have further comments when this private members’ bill is debated.” That will happen when Congress reconvenes later this month.
Arsenault found a supporter in Pierre Vincent, a long-time opponent of the royal oath.
Vincent, a former federal civil servant; citizens of the republic of canadaobjected to a similar requirement that bureaucrats swear allegiance to the sovereign.
Vincent, an Acadian, said he did not want to mention the monarch’s name because of Britain’s role. 18th century exile His French-speaking ancestors came from what is now Atlantic Canada.
“Colonial period, medieval period”
“They gave me an ultimatum,” he said of the upper echelons of the civil service. “They told me to take an oath or they’d fire me, so I told them, ‘No!’
After years of fighting, Vincent won and the oath was quietly withdrawn in favor of bureaucrats.
Now he wants lawmakers to break with the past.
“Why are we still doing colonial and medieval things that are inconsistent with modern thinking about diversity and inclusion? I mean, it’s ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense.” Vincent told CBC News.
“Mexico once had a tradition of sacrificing virgins, but Mexico has abandoned it. Tradition itself is not a legitimate reason for such an act or a violation of free speech.”
john fraser is president Crown Research Institute of Canada and a prominent monarchist. He called the bill a “stupid idea.”
He said Republicans are “stupidly” trying to dismantle Canada’s Westminster political system, a parliamentary system that has served the country for more than 150 years.
He said Canada’s long-standing association with the Crown, an institution that transcends the whims of partisan politics, is something to celebrate.
Fraser said the governor-general, the crown’s representative in Canada, checks political power and ensures the prime minister has control over the confidence of the House of Commons.
“We live in a constitutional monarchy, and trying to dismantle it piecemeal is not a good way to run a country,” Fraser told CBC News.
“If the government of the day feels that the time has come for us to seriously consider becoming a republic, they should draft a referendum and present it to the people. But there are backup plans to replace the referendum. is also necessary.”
Fraser said Republicans have yet to decide on a viable alternative to the current system.
Will Canada have an appointed or elected presidency? Will there be a difference between the head of state and the head of government, as there is now?
“The whole idea of abolishing the oath is based on emotionalism,” Fraser said. “I don’t think we should alienate something that is an integral part of our governance system. Look at what the republic is now. Look at the South, look at the United States. We don’t want it here. Are you there?”
The Canadian Monarchist Alliance has launched a letter campaign instructing its members to urge MPs to withdraw the bill.
The group calls the bill an effort to “promote republicanism through a well-concealed backdoor.”
Neither camp has public opinion squarely on their side. Opinion polls show the country is evenly divided down the middle on whether it is time to sever ties with the king.
There are also questions about whether revocation of oaths can be achieved through law alone.
In 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada Senate reference personthe justices asserted that changes to “the offices of the Queen, the Governor-General, and the Lieutenant-Governor” require the unanimous consent of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and all state legislatures.
The court ruled that unanimity gives all of Canada’s partners “the right to veto any topic they deem most essential to the survival of the nation.”
Although there are provisions in the constitution that give Congress powers over itself, the courts have ruled that those powers are limited.
Barbara Messamore is a professor of history at the University of the Fraser Valley and an expert on Canada’s crown jewels.
She said actually withdrawing the oath would be a “stealth and significant change” to Canada’s system.
“This bill is being smuggled in under the guise of something that’s not very important. And I would like to suggest that it’s quite important,” she told CBC News. “I never take the oath lightly. It is a promise.
“It’s not just about your personal loyalty to Charles. It’s about your loyalty to the Canadian Constitution, the Canadian people, and Canada’s system of governance. It’s not about the personal popularity of the sovereign, it’s about the broader system. It’s about loyalty to.”
Messamore said if the bill passes, it could go to court, where a judge could decide whether Congress can unilaterally enact such changes.
“The monarchy is in every sense at the heart of our constitution. The whole parliamentary system is organized around the monarchy. It is natural that the oath of a member of parliament must include loyalty to the king. I think it’s a flow,” she said. .