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If Canada's a Democracy, Why Are We Ruled By the Aristocracy?

07/07/2013 10:30 EDT | Updated 09/04/2013 05:12 EDT
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ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: Queen Elizabeth II attends day four of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 21, 2013 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)

A country's head of state is not just a hollow symbol of old history. The person represents the people of a country -- their values and common purpose, their sense of unity, their loyalty to each other and their national pride.

A survey of more than 2,000 Canadians conducted by Harris-Decima in February 2013 found that a majority of Canadians (55%) want to change to a democratically chosen Canadian head of state, while only 34% want to continue with a member of the British royal family.

This means more than 15 million adult Canadians (and likely their kids as well) want to retire the monarchy and change to a democratically chosen Canadian head of state.

A survey of more than 2,000 Canadians by Harris-Decima in May 2012 showed that 65% of adult Canadians want the Governor General and Lieutenant Governors to have clear powers and to be elected. As well, a survey of more than 2,000 Canadians by Harris-Decima in November-December 2013 showed that 84% of adult Canadians want enforceable rules to restrict key powers of the Prime Minister and provincial premiers.

Clearly Canadians want change.

A country's head of state is the person with the ultimate power to make key decisions about how government operates, and to represent the country. Canada's head of state is currently Queen Elizabeth, with the Governor General (and in the provinces the Lieutenant Governors) representing her in Canada.

Because Canada's head of state, and the provincial Lieutenant Governors, represent the British royal family and are not democratically chosen, they have no legitimacy to stop the Prime Minister or provincial premiers from abusing their powers (as many of them have in recent years). In fact, the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governors are chosen by the Prime Minister and premiers.

Only 16 of the 54 countries in the Commonwealth association of countries still have the British Royal family as their head of state. The 33 countries that have retired the British monarchy are still members of the Commonwealth, and still have their historical ties to Britain -- but they have all grown up and are fully independent now, standing on their own two feet with all their own government institutions.

Limiting who can be Canada's head of state to the children of one family in a foreign country is unfair, and undemocratic. Canada should not have an aristocracy -- we are a democracy!

Having a member of the British Royal family as Canada's head of state is also divisive. Canada is not British only -- it is a collective of most of the races and ethnicities in the world, united by a desire for freedom, democracy, peace, fairness, and opportunity.

We will never have national unity and a true sense of belonging for all of Canada's peoples, or be a fully democratic country, as long as our head of state is directly associated with, and restricted to, royal heirs of a foreign country who come from only one of Canada's minorities and one of our multitude of religions.

Canada's head of state needs to be modernized -- we need a Canadian selected democratically to represent all Canadians, who is clearly empowered to ensure democratic government, as a majority of Canadians want.

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