Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Towards a Canadian Republic

I'm an American citizen who has lived in Canada for nearly 17 years. People often ask me, why haven't I adopted Canadian citizenship? After all, it's now possible to hold dual citizenship; both my kids, for example, are dual citizens of the USA and Canada.

My answer has always been the same: I'll seriously consider becoming a citizen when Canada removes one citizenship requirement: that I swear allegiance to "Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, her Heirs and Successors".

As an American who is proud of the republican tradition (small "r" in "republican", please), the citizenship requirement that one swear allegiance to a person seems unappealingly feudal to me. Paul McCartney famously observed that the current Queen is a pretty nice girl, but that doesn't mean I want to swear allegiance to her. As for her heirs, Prince Charles seems like a sanctimonious git, and he'd be one of the last people I'd swear allegiance to. And who knows what further heirs might be like?

Now a Toronto lawyer, Charles Roach, has brought a class action suit against the requirement. This press release argues that "the government should not force people to swear to things they don’t believe in to gain citizenship".

I entirely agree, although I don't know how strong his legal argument is. Canada's Attorney General, though, is not convinced, and apparently is trying to have the complaint dismissed on the grounds that it is "frivolous".

Canada should follow the lead of Australia and remove this archaic and childish requirement.


Chris Hyland said...

I've lived in England all my life and I've never sworn alliegence to the Queen so it seems like a pretty daft requirement.

Eamon Knight said...

I'm sort of a monarchist-by-default, ie. I'm not ga-ga over the Royal Family and Tradition and all, but in terms of running the country the system seems to work adequately, and the onus on those who want to change it to show they've got a better idea (and there are certainly worse). However, the idea that His Royal Wooness Chuckles will one day be Head of State is causing me to reconsider....

Larry Moran said...

I posted a response at Becoming Canadian. The fact that you have to swear to love the Queen doesn't seem any more ridiculous that Americans pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth!

Unknown said...

Interesting... I would never think this to be an issue. When I took the oath, I only viewed the Queen as a symbolic figure.