THE BLOG

Now That the Fairy Dust Has Settled

07/30/2013 04:33 EDT | Updated 09/29/2013 05:12 EDT

Well, we have had our annual dose of monarchy elation with the birth of Prince George, or more importantly, Will and Kate's baby. The only thing that the newshounds might have missed was the average number of yawns per hour by police officers on site and the length of cable use to trip the reporters. But, then, I might have missed the hour-long mastication of each of these earth stopping, need-to-knows.

I did watch some of it, I confess. This is partly because there is a certain fascination about watching epitomes of journalistic excellence like Susan Ormiston handle the under challenge of this story. Apparently there is a reason that we can appoint such journalists as governors general and diplomats without fear of disaster.

A second reason was more selfish. After the string of bad news stories ranging from the bleak Alberta floods to the horror of Lac Mégantic, both only heightened by the comic relief of Fordgate and Duffygate, some good, no, great news was very welcome.

The third reason is that I happen to like the members of the royal family. They have learned, of late, to relax a little in front of the media. Will and Kate have proven to be more than adept at spontaneous dignity changing protocol by approaching the media with their newborn. Even though Prince Harry's behaviour sometimes imitates the homonym of his name a little too closely, I think he's a good fellow to have in one's corner when the twitter hits the fan.

However, after all fairy dust has settled, we must realize that while the people holding the royal offices are not the problem, the traditions holding the royal offices are.

Mostly, of course, I have great issue with the title "Head of the Church of England." How can we have separation of church and state in Canada when our head of state is also head of church?

Of course, monarchists will say out of one side of their mouth this is trivial while on the other side they will claim the infinite importance of the monarchy and its traditions. They need to get their heads out of the royalist fog. Such blind adherence to tradition does not allow for the flexibility of multiculturalism and philosophical plurality which will help it survive.

If the monarchy is an important symbol of the Canadian entity, then it must symbolize the Canadian fact of multiculturalism and to do so it must favour no one philosophy or religion.

Prince Charles has offered to renounce the title "Head of the Church of England", divorced as he is, but persists in the notion that he will be defender of the faith. I would suggest that he drop that too if he wishes to be a proper monarch of multicultural Canada. He and his descendants are, of course, welcome to keep their own religious views. That, too, is an integral part of multiculturalism.

Proper separation of church and state, the guarantee that neither is going to interfere with the other, is necessary if we are to have a fair and open democracy inclusive of all the faiths and philosophies that make up multiculturalism.

For the system to be truly fair, government operations must be completely free of the rites and passages of religion and must be seen to be completely free of them. All Canadians must be able sit at the table without paying homage to any particular philosophy and the only way to do that is to pay homage to none at all. That is difficult to do when a theist monarchy is at the head of the table.