Earlier this week, Yahoo Canada invited readers to weigh in on NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s recent comments about the British monarchy and its relevance to Canadians.
In an interview Sunday on CTV’s Question Period, Singh said he believed Canada should shed the British monarchy and become a republic.
“I don’t see the relevance of it, and I don’t think that most Canadians do,” Singh said of the monarchy. “I believe that we should be a state, I think that makes sense, and I’m open to hearing folks’ opinions on that, but that’s my take.”
The comments came after host Evan Solomon asked Singh if he identified as a monarchist or a republican, in the context of a National Post investigation into former governor general Adrienne Clarkson claiming more than $1 million in expenses since leaving the position in 2005.
When polled by Yahoo Canada, 54 per cent of respondents said they believe the monarchy is relevant in Canada, and 46 per cent said they do not. More than 7,000 votes were casted in the online poll.
While those in favour of the monarchy outnumbered those against it by less than 10 per cent in the poll, comments on the story suggested a more dramatic divide.
The highest rated and most discussed comments came from those who were pro-monarchy.
Some monarchists pointed to the things Canada has gained from Britain, such as models for democracy, parliament, common law and rule of law, arguing the country should remain a constitutional monarchy out of respect to Britain. Others said Canada’s historic ties to Britain have always been a source of pride for them.
One Yahoo Canada reader argued that because both countries’ identities and values are so similar, maintaining the union between them makes sense. Another saw value in having a non-political head of state at a time when the world is seeing “increasingly politically unstable climates.”
Although their comments were not as popular as those in favour of the monarchy, people who support ditching the Queen had their say, too. Many echoed Singh’s claim that the monarchy isn’t relevant in Canada and “has no place in modern society.”
Others pointed out the difference in labels between citizen and subject that appear to be at odds with one another. Some said they resented being under the rule of another country’s figurehead leader, especially a monarch.
Arguments aside, if the Canadian government were to try and ditch the monarchy, the process would likely be a tricky one.
Under section 41 of the Constitution, changing anything about the “office of the Queen” requires the unanimous consent of all 10 provinces. And if the provinces are as divided as Yahoo’s readers, Canada won’t be cutting ties with the Queen and her brood any time soon.
With files from Elisabetta Bianchini