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Canadian monarchy

Portraits of the Queen (here with Prince Philip) can be found in most Canadian government buildings

Canada is a Constitutional Monarchy and a Commonwealth Realm with Queen Elizabeth II as its reigning monarch and head of state.

In Canada, Her Majesty's official title is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. Such capacity is Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. In common practice Queen Elizabeth II is referred to simply as "The Queen" or "The Queen of Canada" when in Canada.

Table of contents
1 Constitutional Monarchy in Canada
2 History
3 Debate
4 See also
5 External Links

Constitutional Monarchy in Canada

The most notable features of the Canadian constitutional monarchy are:


Canada has been independent of the United Kingdom since a combination of the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act, 1927 (which replaced the concept of a singular crown throughout the British Empire with multiple crowns with each dominion as a separate kingdom, all worn by the common shared monarch) and the Statute of Westminster 1931, which granted the dominions of the Commonwealth independence from the British parliament and equality with the United Kingdom. Canada's constitution was repatriated under Prime Minister Trudeau in 1982, becoming a Canadian law rather than an act of the British parliament which required amendment in both jurisdictions. See Canada Act 1982.

The Throne of Canada
Throne Chairs for The Queen of Canada, and the Duke of Edinburgh and the Governor General, in the Canadian Senate, Ottawa. (The front chair is used by the Speaker of the Senate)

However the repatriation of the constitution did not have any impact on the position of Queen Elizabeth as Queen of Canada, though the rules of succession are still laid down in British, not Canadian law.

Occasionally, the Queen's authority is appealed to by Canada's partisan political leaders.

In 1992, Brian Mulroney, then Prime Minister of Canada, appealed to the Queen (through the Governor-General) to temporarily add eight seats to the Senate (a right reserved for the queen). Senators are appointed until the age of 75 in Canada, and it is generally believed that Mulroney made this move in order to secure passage of the controversial Goods and Services Tax, which faced widespread opposition in Canada, and would not have passed there without the votes of the newly appointed Senators.

This was an occasion on which the Queen played a significant role in Canadian government, though as the monarch's advisors made clear, the monarch felt bound to do as advised by Her Prime Minister, who was answerable to cabinet, parliament and the Canadian electorate for whatever advice he gave. They argued that to in effect overrule prime ministerial advice would have involved the Queen directly in controversy; by automatically accepting advice she placed the responsibility on the person giving the advice.


Throughout Canada's history there has rarely been much discussion or debate on the continued existence of the "Canadian monarchy." Historically, the monarchy has often been touted by Canadians as one of the key differences between the United States and Canada.

In recent years however, some Canadians, such as former Deputy Prime Minister John Manley have advocated the abolishment of the Canadian monarchy, and the establishment of a republic with head of state as a fully Canadian (and possibly democratically-elected) office. In contrast to Australian republicanism, there is not much public interest in turning Canada into a republic.

Arguments against the monarchy claim that its abolition would be a blow for democracy and remove an unnecessary expense for the Canadian taxpayer. Many Canadian republicans also say it would remove Canada's last political connection to her colonial past, and thus improve her image as a sovereign nation.

On the other hand, some of the monarchy's defenders have argued that having a Canadian monarchy, with a Queen of Canada and a governor-general, allows Canada to highlight its difference from the United States, whereas a republican president might be seen just another president on the American continent where the most prominent president is the President of the United States.

It is also noted that whereas Canada currently has a female head of state and female governor-general, no woman has ever been president or vice-president in the United States. They also argue that a republican head of state would cost more, not less, than the current monarchy, due to additional costs involved in updating the governor-general's residences to full head of state presidential palace level, the costs of state visits, political advisors, increased ceremonial functions, etc - functions that in many cases do not exist for a governor-general, given that they are not a full head of state, but which would be required for a Canadian president. There is also, in large part because of previous long disputes over constitutional issues and reforms, a reluctance to enter into the extensive constitutional renegotiation that would be required to establish a new political system in Canada. At any rate, at this time this issue is not at all high on peoples' minds. A recent poll suggested that only 5% of Canadians are aware that Canada's Queen and Head of State is Elizabeth II. Most Canadians incorrectly regard the Prime Minister as the nation's Head of State.

The Canadian monarchy has a powerful special interest group, known as the Monarchist League of Canada. The republican movement has a smaller, recently-formed group, known as Citizens for a Canadian Republic.

See also

External Links