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