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Why Charles III will not also be Charles the Last for Canada

Despite Canadians' discomfort with the monarchy and their British king: for now, the crown is not replaceable

On May 2, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became the target of an unusual attack. During Question Period of the Canadian House of Commons, Rhéal Éloi Fortin, a member of the opposition Bloc Québécois (BC) from the French-speaking part of Canada, expressed his disapproval of the Prime Minister's participation in the coronation of Charles III on May 6 in London. Trudeau had therefore specially adjusted his schedule and left the concurrent party convention of his governing Liberals only after the first day, May 4, in order to arrive in Europe on time. "He could have sent someone in his place, such as a minister, but his priority is to prostrate himself before the king," Fortin shouted loudly into the chamber. By then, however, Trudeau had already left it, and his Canadian Heritage Minister had to fend off the attack. True, as a regional party, the BC has traditionally been anti-British and anti-monarchist - as early as the 18th century, France had to cede large parts of its Canadian possessions to Great Britain. But Fortin's contribution, placed specifically at the start of Coronation Week in Great Britain, tapped into a currently quite measurable antipathy throughout Canada toward the British monarchy and its still authoritative role in the country.

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Despite its historically significant role as Canada's form of government, the monarchy has not been without controversy in Canada, especially since the 1960s. From a symbol of national unity, its image changed to one of minority oppression and general redundancy in today's modern world. This concerns both the monarchical system as such and individual personalities of the Royal Family. Charles III, in particular, cannot match the popularity of his late mother, Elizabeth II. The Canadians' reservations about the Queen Consort Camilla, who will not be accepted as the Queen of the Canadians, are just as great, according to the latest surveys. Approval ratings for the heirs to the throne, William and Catherine, are higher, but not high enough to make the problem go away. This unease is so great that now a majority of the population would welcome the opening of a constitutional amendment process to bring about the transition to a republic. Experts warn, however, that this constitutionally complex step would pose numerous risks to the federal-provincial relationship in Canada. Also, previous constitutional amendment processes have already failed spectacularly, and other constitutional problems currently appear more urgent than conversion to a republic. Apart from that, the republican movement exists in Canada, but it is nowhere near as strong as in the other British dominions of Australia and New Zealand. Above all, it lacks a vision in Canada that would be able to convincingly convey the added value of a republic over a monarchy. The latter is extremely present in everyday life through royal tours, portraits in public buildings, heraldry on official documents, and name components of offices and authorities. How the extremely diverse Canadian society could be shaped without a monarchy in a republic for the benefit of all therefore remains open at present, which ultimately means that republicanism will lead nowhere in our time, political commentators are convinced. They consider this question still open even if in a few years the present Prince of Wales ascends the throne. Thus, despite loud grumblings about their monarchy, Canadians are likely to come to terms with it again in the near and medium future.

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Dr. Norbert Eschborn


Director KAS Office Canada +1-613-422-4300


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