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God Save the Superstars!

By: /
2 July, 2011
By: André Pratte
Editorial Pages Editor (Éditorialiste en chef) at La Presse

Roland Paris raises a very good point in his latest entry: why is it that most Canadians don’t care about the nationality of our head of state? Obviously, this is not an important issue for our daily lives. But symbolically it surely is. And symbols are oftentimes important. For instance, a truly Canadian head of state might serve as a unifying force for our diverse country.

I am struck by one reason Roland gives for not debating the idea: cutting ties with the British monarchy would necessitate amending the Constitution. Who wants to go there?

It is true that changing the Constitution is a very difficult and wrenching process. Yet, shouldn’t we eventually contemplate the possibility of modernizing our political institutions? We will avoid the topic forever because we don’t want to plunge into another constitutional quagmire? If so, we can forget a Canadian head of state and a legitimate Senate. The Constitution will remain as is for decades, becoming increasingly disconnected from contemporary reality.

I wonder, are all countries that allergic to constitutional debates?

Quebecers’ feelings towards the monarchy and the British connection in general range from indifference to, for an infinitesimal minority, hostility. Very few French-speaking Quebecers realize to what extent our “distinct society” has absorbed British political, social and artistic culture. Many of our institutions are inspired by the UK traditions. Same with our architecture and our culinary tastes.

Sunday, in Québec City, 200 or 300 hardcore separatists will demonstrate against the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The fact that there will be so few demonstrators is proof that most Quebecers have no resentment towards the British or the monarchy. Indeed, even though we won’t admit it, many of us will fall under the charm of this beautiful royal couple – not because William is our future king but because he and his wife have become international superstars. The demonstrators represent no one but themselves.

After this Canada Day weekend, I’d like to discuss the European crisis. Any thoughts, guys? Will Europe move towards more integration (dare we say more federalism!) or will the monetary union fall apart?

Photo courtesy of Reuters.

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