Ottawa hasn’t said how Canada will mark the King’s investiture on May 6.
The coronation of Canada’s new King is less than two months away and the country is split up the middle on whether it’s time to cut ties with the Crown, a new poll suggests.
A Leger survey of 1,544 Canadians found 56 per cent of respondents agreed the country should “reconsider its ties” to the monarchy now that there’s a new sovereign.
That number was higher in Quebec, where 71 per cent of respondents said there should be some constitutional soul-searching about the Crown.
People in Ontario (53 per cent) and B.C. (52 per cent) were more likely than other regions to say King Charles and his heirs should maintain their current role in our system.
King Charles’s deep ties to Canada
Britain’s new monarch King Charles has deep ties to Canada, forging connections with some Canadians through his charitable work and outreach during his many visits to the country.
Barbados dropped its relationship with the monarchy last year and became a republic — a decision that gave hope to anti-royalists in other Commonwealth realms.
That sort of move couldn’t happen quite so easily in Canada.
Canada’s Constitution demands unanimity on the question — the House of Commons and Senate and all 10 provinces would have to agree on a different system.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said there’s no appetite for that sort of protracted constitutional battle. Whether he’s loved or not, Charles is likely here to stay.
But it’s clear that many Canadians just don’t think about the Royal Family all that often.
The poll found that 67 per cent of respondents feel “indifferent” to Charles’s new role. Only 12 per cent said it’s “good news” that he’s Canada’s new head of state. About 14 per cent said it’s “bad news” that Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son has assumed his birthright.
About 80 per cent of respondents said they’re not “personally attached” to what Leger describes as the “British” monarchy.
While claiming they don’t give it much thought, the poll also found that 47 per cent of those surveyed are aware Charles’s coronation will take place on May 6. About 40 per cent said they’ll consider watching TV coverage of the event, which will be broadcast around the globe.
That relatively high level of awareness may be fuelled by Prince Harry’s book tour and the tabloid fodder he and his wife, Meghan, have generated in recent weeks.
There are questions about whether the California-based couple will attend Charles’s big day after a public spat with other members of the family.
The coronation — a service full of religious symbolism and pageantry — is generally regarded as one of the most important days in a monarch’s reign.
John Fraser is the founder of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada and a monarchist. He said Charles’s relatively poor showing in the Leger poll is cause for concern.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Canadians are indifferent because we haven’t seen much of him. These opinion polls are always dependent on proximity to the person,” Fraser told CBC News.
“He hasn’t been here much in the last five years so, to Canadians, he feels distant and that’s legitimate. He’s our head of state now and we need to see more of him and that’s something that needs to be attended to.”
As the head of state in a constitutional monarchy, Charles defers to the government of the day on such questions as when he’ll come to Canada for a visit.
Through Heritage Canada, the department that looks after all things royal, the federal government is responsible for planning tours like Charles’s visit last year for the Platinum Jubilee.
Fraser said the general feeling of apathy about the Crown might also explain why the federal government hasn’t said a word about how Canada will mark the coronation — or whether there will be a royal visit later this year to mark Charles’s accession.
Canada sent the largest Commonwealth contingent to Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation at Westminster Abbey in London. There were nationwide celebrations to mark the accession of the country’s new Queen.
It’s not likely Canada will do as much now as it did then. Fraser said the government may just prefer to let the Crown’s role in Canada “atrophy” through inattention — a choice that would worry Buckingham Palace, he added.
Monarchists say that, as a senior member of the Commonwealth and a country with close historic ties to the Crown, Canada should do something significant to mark the arrival of a new King.
Republicans, meanwhile, say Charles doesn’t deserve any recognition.
Fraser said a well-produced coronation, and a tour of Canada, could boost Charles’s standing in the eyes of some Canadians. He conceded, however, that there will always be some “rabid republicans” and a great many people who will “just shrug their shoulders.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J.P. Tasker is a journalist in CBC’s parliamentary bureau who reports for digital, radio and television. He is also a regular panellist on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics. He covers the Conservative Party, Canada-U.S. relations, Crown-Indigenous affairs, climate change, health policy and the Senate. You can send story ideas and tips to J.P. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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