Discussion on How to Get Rid of the Monarchy and Renew
the Constitutional Order

The Queen's Death and Democratic Renewal

– Christine Dandenault –

It is high time to put an end to the domination of the British monarchy in Quebec and Canada and to establish modern institutions in our service. This is one of the logical conclusions that flows from the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the history that has preceded it since the British conquest.

The institutions in Quebec and all of Canada were established according to 19th century British nation-building, and retained the "royal prerogative." This royal prerogative ensures that privileges are kept in the hands of a tiny minority, which is the essence of absolutism and the archaic notion of the "divine right of kings."

The maintenance and continuity of this prerogative is of the utmost importance for the ruling elite. It is not for nothing that the ceremony swearing in the new King Charles III took place so quickly after the Queen's death. There was to be no break in the continuity of the monarchy. For Canada, the urgency was the same. Prime Minister Trudeau, present at the ceremony, immediately declared: "On behalf of the Government of Canada, we affirm our loyalty to the new King of Canada, His Majesty King Charles III, and offer him our full support."

When decisions are made from above and the interests of the people are not taken into consideration, nothing good can come of them. Among such decisions are the Treaty of Paris of 1763, when France officially ceded New France to the British; the Quebec Act of 1774; the British Constitutional Act of 1791 which divided the province of Quebec into two political entities, Lower Canada and Upper Canada; the Act of Union of 1840, which abolished those provinces and their legislative assemblies and created a single colony -- the province of Canada (or United Canada) -- under the administration of a governor general, in the wake of the patriots' rebellion of 1837-38 that was crushed by British colonial troops during Queen Victoria's reign; or the naming of Canada the Dominion of Canada and the passing of the British North America Act in 1867. More recent examples include the proclamation of the maple leaf flag of Canada by Queen Elizabeth II in 1965; Canada's patriation of the Constitution of the British Parliament in 1982 which reaffirmed the central role of the Crown in the structure of our government -- the Constitution which Quebec, despite being called a "founding nation," has never signed. All such decisions were made from above and this remains the case today.

A citizen who belongs to the organized body politic has never been the starting point of any such agreement or proclamation, and the recent announcement by the Canadian government concerning King Charles III is the latest example. Proclamations defining executive power for the division of powers have been issued, but there has never been an explicit declaration of democracy.

If we want to talk about democracy, we have to talk about equality. Equality is directly related to structure, namely what structure is needed to ensure equality for all. What are the necessary conditions to have equality? The current structure does not allow for equality. Royal prerogative and divine right block equality. They are impunity, hierarchy, privileges, etc.

Today, the cartel parties present the symbols of the monarchy as being insignificant and that the political system functions despite them. All this allows the continuation of the system of privileges and blocks the people from having power in their hands.

There are plenty of remnants and footprints of the British Crown in Quebec. These have to be eliminated. Doing so is part of the struggle for democratic renewal, to establish a political process on modern foundations that corresponds to the needs of the day, that is, for the working class to constitute the nation and to vest the people with decision-making power on all matters that affect society. This is the battle being waged today.

The people's allegiance is not to the Crown, but to what the relationship between humans and humans and between humans and nature reveals. It is the historic need for the people to make the decisions. No cartel party has a human-centred nation-building project, whose aim is to defend and ensure the well-being and dignity of all. People must speak for themselves, in their own voice, and not allow others to represent them who in fact are representatives of a so-called divine king.

Christine Dandenault is the PMLQ candidate in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 23 - October 2, 2022

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