COLUMN: Is there any relevance to ‘our’ monarchy?

As Will and Kate capture hearts and minds across the country, renewing (except perhaps in Quebec) passions many have for the monarchy, they are also reminding others how irrelevant that institution really is in Canada.

As Will and Kate capture hearts and minds across the country, renewing (except perhaps in Quebec) passions many have for the monarchy, they are also reminding others how irrelevant that institution really is in Canada.

Representing the Crown in this country is the Governor General … how many of you know his name, or what he actually does.

In each province there is also a Lieutenant Governor, the names of whom I’m certain, other than B.C.’s Steven Point, escapes everyone.

So why do we have them, other than to perpetuate a colonial perception that for all intent and purpose ended 144 years ago?

And as far as the monarchy goes, Canada to them is little more than a vacation destination to visit only rarely.

Yet at every citizenship ceremony, new Canadians pledge allegiance to the Queen. I suppose in one way it is nice to have something the Americans don’t, but do we need to spend so much money for such minor bragging rights? Because you can be assured the Governor General and all those Lieutenant Governors cost us a fortune every year.

Then again, I’m also sure that should these positions and titles be phased out, our governments would find something equally expensive to replace them.

Yet while we continue to perpetuate importance of the monarchy, and our ties to Great Britain, it is interesting that the government of the UK has less regard for us, and its own citizens who live here.

Case in point. If you are a British citizen living in Canada, and you need to renew your passport you’d think it was just a simple matter of, say, going to the British Consulate in Vancouver and making your application for renewal or, failing that, at least contacting the UK’s Consul General in Ottawa.

Nope, sorry: if a Brit wants to renew a passport while in Canada, he/she needs to pony up about $275 (in U.S. funds no less!), and send the application and money to Washington, D.C. for processing and approval.

Makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? The Yanks go to war, and win complete independence. We retain our ties, and keep the monarchy. And a Brit in Canada has to apply for a British passport in the U.S.! You would have thought, if it was all about saving money and thus having only one UK passport office in North America, that it would at least be located in the country that has the closest ties to Britain.

Granted, there may be more British ex-pats living in the U.S., but even that should not override the long-standing relationship Canada has with our official ‘mother country’. Because like it or not, and regardless of your origin, by retaining the monarchy, Great Britain is just that to Canada.

Will that last though, considering the incredible demographic change that immigration is bringing to this country? Will these new Canadians eventually demand that we mature into a completely independent nation, the only sovereignty we hold will be our own?

In the meantime, at least Will and Kate are cute and they, like movie stars or hockey heroes, create a pleasant diversion to talk of the weather and, I would guess, the potential horde of mosquitoes we’ll probably fight off this summer.

markrushton@abbynews.com

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