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Monday, April 25, 2011

Let’s address intolerance and racism, especially when it exists in the highest office in our land

The following is a re-print of an article by me that was published by Postmedia News on April 28, 2011 at Canada.com.




W
ith the Royal Wedding being showcased by Canadian media and the questioning abroad of the current system of male preference primogeniture as it applies to succession of the
QEIIthrone, one might expect to hear more of our leaders’ views on the monarchy.
The best defence I’ve heard for that institution are the arguments for the stability it provides by being above the political fray, and its place as a reminder of Canada’s British heritage. Fair enough, but how compelling are these arguments in 2011?
I contend that the monarchy must go because it embodies values that are anathema to Canadian ideals of gender equity, religious tolerance and racial equality.
Succession of the monarchy is governed by male-preference cognatic primogeniture, under which sons inherit before daughters. How can Canada, which has such built-in bias favouring males over females as our head of state, be taken seriously on the issue of gender equality.
This blatant discrimination—which it seems to me is contrary to the spirit, at least, of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms—probably passes un-noticed because Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for almost 60 years, a lifetime for many Canadians. But for how much longer will Canadians stand for its basic lack of fairness.
And regarding the Charter, does it not prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion? Yet our monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic. Our monarch is termed “defender of the [Protestant] faith.” She is required to be a member of the Church of England (Anglican) and cannot marry a Roman Catholic. The CIA website suggests less then seven per cent of Canadians are Anglicans, yet our head of state must be one.
Our head of state is also the titular head of the Church of England. “I accept Your Majesty as the sole source of ecclesiastical, spiritual and temporal power,” is the oath sworn by Church of England bishops. So much for Canada’s claim to be a secular state.
In conclusion, I consider our monarchy to be a racist institution—perhaps the most egregious form of discrimination. Our head of state must be a member of one particular white-English family, the only one with the right to superior status to which the rest of us must bow. Does our Charter really allow any particular ethnic group the right to claim superior rights? How does this inequality play among our racially diverse population?
I’m told that ordinary Canadians have more important things to worry about than who our head of state is. They are more concerned about the economy, health care, taxes, the environment, etc., I’m told.
But I say that Canadians should always have time to address systemic gender-inequality, religious intolerance and racism, especially when it exists in the highest office in our land.


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.

8 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. So you don't like her hats? I think they are wonderful.....and for anyone to look at English history and suggest that only males get to rule perhaps ignores the current monarch (on the throne for 50+ years), Victoria (on the throne for 64 years), Anne, Mary (of William and Mary joint ruling post Glorious Revolution fame), Elizabeth I, and Mary (the one nicknamed "Bloody"). In any event, the UK Parliament will no doubt shift the male succession line to become a whoever is eldest succession thing, as the Swedes, Norwegians and others have done. Charles himself has said that he wants the oath the monarch swears to change so he would become Defender of Faiths, instead of Defender of the Faith, because he wants to reflect that all faiths and matters of conscience deserve respect.
    There are many reasons to prefer a republican model of government frmo the constitutional monarchical one. But I'm not sure fixing upon the items you have are the strong points of the argument.
    And as I mentioned at the outset -- her hats seem to me to make the monarchy worthwhile.....symbols and appearances of stability being valuable for something.

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  2. Anon 11:57 AM,

    Mary I (Bloody Mary) was the first Queen after many, many kings. Mary (of William and Mary fame) was not allowed to reign alone, but had to have a man on the throne also. Elizabeth I, Anne, Victoria and Elizabeth II have also ruled. (Some may claim one or two more queens whose rule were disputed.) Since 1066 when William I came to the throne, however, there have been 37 kings. The females were the exceptions that have proved the rule, not examples of gender-equity.

    You make my points, then totally dismiss them… curious.

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  3. The changes you have suggested are already under discussion, but it will take a while. The constitutions of Britain and 11 countries have to be re-opened and there has to be a collective political will to do that. For example, how keen would the present government be to mess with the Constitution during this election? Do you think the UK coalition wants to touch this issue at this time? Nope - more fun to watch the wedding.

    We should talk about the monarchy, once we figure out who is governing this country, preferably when the issue will NOT be politicized (i.e., when we have a stable, national majority government) AND not with Pauline Marois.

    Canada is a great country because of British (and similar French) traditions. Our strong institutions and laws are based on British and French law. We should evolve slowly and with a great deal of thought about unintended consequences. Our universal education systems were based on the Scottish protestant kirk system and French Catholic traditions.

    Don't forget the fact that my grandmother, 3rd generation Canadian and "suffragette", could not vote until she was 34. That movement started the year she was born. Her father could not vote until he owned some property.

    We have enough problems with our new 1982 constitution without messing with the basic framework. Adding Charter rights has created legal havoc, especially the 1985 ruling which gives failed refugee claimants the right to waste our money appealing for 12 years. It would be better to clean it up and work on more important issues such as the Indian Act first.

    We still need our traditions and symbols, especially in turbulent times. Long live the queen!

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  4. Sure L, we're much too busy and it'd be difficult and messy so let's just ignore the unjustness of the present system, after all, we've ONLY had it for about 145 years--and it's only about our head of state, nothing too important there. Yes it's all just too much fuss and bother.

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  5. Actually in theory anyone csn become King or Queen as the Sovereign can declare anyone to be his/her heir to the throne. In practice this is one of the family and generally the first born male. I'd have no problem with the first born regardless of sex being first in line, or even the first born daughter taking precedence, I would have a problem with the abolition of the monarchy and would take up arms to prevent it.

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  6. Apparently, Russ, you only like your own opinions.

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  7. Yes, I agree, Rick, under certain conditions.

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  8. Interesting take on the subject.

    Will this discussion become more animated upon Charles' ascension?

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