#41 – “The 24th of May, the Queen’s birthday.”

Are you old enough to remember when children sang the ditty: “The 24th of May, the Queen’s birthday. If we don’t get a holiday, we’ll all run away”? Or if a bit younger you might remember it as “The 24th of May, firecracker day. If we don’t get a holiday, we’ll all run away.

The Harper Conservative government chose the eve of this celebration of Queen Victoria to announce that the royals are again coming to visit their Canadian subjects. Queen Elizabeth and her husband intend to so honor us. There are many Canadians who do not share in the enthusiasm for this outmoded demonstration of fealty. It is not only inappropriate in the 21st Century but it sends a very wrong message to everybody as to what we are as Canadians.

The fact of being a Canadian sovereign is based on the law of primogeniture which is no longer valid law in most of the world’s jurisdictions. It is a law that passes all possessions and titles to the eldest male offspring. It is not even valid in Canada. It would be impossible, under Canadian law for the Queen’s son Charles to claim her estates, possessions and bank accounts without a specific will provided by her to that effect and with agreement by her husband and her other children. As for her titles, there is no provision provided for their transfer under Canadian law.

While our laws allow the monarchy to exist, it is, at best, a polite fiction. You are not supposed to tell people that because it is considered rude. Those of us who have served the Canadian monarchy (in the right of Canada) in various capacities, ranging from police and jurists to the military and to privy counsellors have had to swear allegiance to this mystic Canadian phenomenon. It is assumed that this allegiance is quietly voided once your term of service expires—with the exception of privy counsellors who are appointed for life.

But in this time, in this century, in this modern world, the monarchy makes no sense. It should no longer be countenanced or even quietly ignored. Try explaining the law of primogeniture to your daughter and you will deserve the kick in the shin she should give you. Try to explain why the guy with the big ears is prepared to take over as King Charles III and you will be considered ridiculous by a kindergarten class.

Nobody but the most foolish despots and business tycoons try to pass power from parent to offspring today. Does Kim Il Sung’s leadership of North Korea being passed on to his son Kim Jong Il inspire confidence in that country?

Fairy story time of kings and queens, princes and princesses is over. Canada needs to strike out boldly to create a new future. The first step is to structure a constitutional assembly. This must be an elected assembly that reflects its electors. It will need time to consider the future, discuss alternatives and to choose a path. Whatever the assembly decides then must be approved by a clear majority of Canadians after a reasonable period of discussion and consideration. What is decided might become a model for the rest of the world.

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