Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canada's Queen

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Winnipeg MP Pat Martin wants to remove any reference to the Queen in the oath of allegiance, or at least give Canada equal billing.

As it stands, new Canadians must swear an oath of allegiance to the British monarch, but they must also agree to fulfil their duties as Canadian citizens.

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The idea is really a non-starter, unless Canadians wanted to abolish the monarchy, which they do not. And even if they did, it would lead to the greatest constitutional brouhaha in the country's history.

The simple fact is that the Queen is a constitutional monarch and head of state in Canada, which does not mean she rules the country. The monarchy is the foundation of the country's legal framework. It is through the Queen or her representatives that laws are proclaimed and given lawful effect.

The oath of allegiance to the Queen recognizes Canada's 250-year connection to the British monarchy, which has been a harmonious and fruitful relationship. Prior to the British, by the way, French kings ruled a small part of what is now Canada for 200 years.

Mr. Martin's idea might be well-intentioned, but it simply is not legally possible, at least not as long as the Queen is the head of state. Canadians are free to say, "Off with her head," but until then, it's God Save the Queen.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 19, 2013 A10

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