053_G19_Arena

Global

government exercise ‘royal prerogative powers’ on the Queen’s behalf in governing the country. The Queen can dissolve parliament, but only when formally asked to by the Prime Minister. The same can be said for countries of the Commonwealth where the Queen appoints a governor-general to represent her, with the appointee chosen by the prime minister of the country in question. The governor-general can ask for parliament to be dissolved, but only under exceptional circumstances where confidence is no longer held in the parliament. Canada is the most visited country by the Queen in her 60 years on the throne and she has been quoted as saying it feels like a “second home”. However, a growing disparity between old and young Canadians would suggest the latter are less likely to feel as passionate about the Queen of Canada. For many older Canadians like Joan Laduke, being part of the UK is seen as a good thing. “The Queen and Prince Philip are very well received in Canada. She is a model of what we should all aspire to. Her dedication and what she promised as a young girl of 25 is amazing. Yet she is accepting of change,” she says. “We are similar in age and it’s not easy to accept new things. She’s accepted we have tried to be more independent but her role as Queen of Canada has been positive. Long live the Queen of Canada, I say.” Canadian journalist Brandie Weikle points out that the British monarch is part of Canadian history and that the current status quo is just accepted by most. “That said, I have mixed feelings about any set of regular human beings holding an almost demi-god-like status in our culture,” she says. “But I doubt I’d become an advocate for moving away from our constitutional monarchy. The operative word there is ‘constitutional’. If the royal family were anything other than figureheads, I would find that quite deplorable and backward.” On the flip side, Tom Freda, director of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, sees no compelling reason why Canada should share its head of state with any other country. “Imagine telling someone in just about any other independent nation that their head of state has just been replaced by someone who isn’t a citizen, doesn’t live in their country and was chosen solely because he or she belonged to a certain family or religion – in another country. They’d think you were insane. We also have a simmering unity issue in this country. In Quebec, which represents about a quarter of Canada’s population, the monarchy is very unpopular. Consequently, many believe that Quebec nationalism would be dealt a mortal blow by Canada becoming a republic,” he said adding that a republic is inevitable. “All you have to do is look around the Commonwealth. Most members are already republics, having cut their constitutional ties Arena Governance Kate reaches out to the younger generation in Blenheim, New Zealand to the British monarchy decades ago. Here, opinion polls prove that, despite a generally favourable view of the Queen and most other royals, support for having a democratically-selected Canadian as head of state is higher – and climbing year-by-year. One reason is because we’re not mostly descended from British immigrants anymore. As our demographics change, so do our views of Canada’s place in the world. You see, the pursuit of a non-hereditary head of state is far deeper than just democratic reform and the realisation of the obsolescence of monarchy in the 21st century,” he says. “It’s the next stage in our path to independence.” Elsewhere, the removal of the Queen as head of state at one outpost of her realm is already underway. In her inaugural address in January 2013, Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller announced she would “initiate the process of detachment” from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. “There is no doubt that she has been a gracious and engaging Queen and a model of dedication to duty, which has been a feature of her entire reign,” she said. “In our 50th year of political independence, the government of Jamaica announced a decision to act on the aspects of constitutional reform, which has been in serious contemplation for almost 20 years. We decided to ensure that all the elements and symbols of our governance system are fully representative of Jamaica. This is why we are beginning the process to have a Jamaican national as our ceremonial president and our official head of state. It is now time for Jamaica to take a stand on our system of government, after 51 years of political independence,” she said. While countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand openly debate the role of the Queen in their countries, there is no denying she is still a very popular figurehead – and with the new generation of royals enjoying celebrity status, the meaning of the expression “long to reign over us” has never been more apparent. Kylie Field is an Australian journalist, currently living in the UK Reigning supreme Commonwealth realms are sovereign states that are members of the Commonwealth of Nations and have Queen Elizabeth II as their reigning constitutional monarch. There are currently 16 Commonwealth realms: n Antigua and Barbuda n Australia n The Bahamas n Barbados n Belize n Canada n Grenada n Jamaica n New Zealand n Papua New Guinea n St Kitts and Nevis n Saint Lucia n St Vincent and the Grenadines n Solomon Islands n Tuvalu n United Kingdom www.global global four th quar ter 2014 -br ief ing.org l 53 © Government House Wellington


Global
To see the actual publication please follow the link above