I would like to correct a serious error in Neil Godbout’s article “That’s the Prince and Duchess of Cambridge to you.”
He states, “This may be our country because we live in it but it’s actually their country. Queen Elizabeth is the ultimate ruler of this nation…” and “The true leader of these lands has been the British sovereign since 1763.”
The truth is that, in 1867 when Canada was created, the nation gained control over its internal affairs.
In 1931, by the Statute of Westminster, along with the other dominions, Canada became a totally sovereign, independent nation. The statute states that the dominions are “autonomous communities with the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate to one another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.”
In 1982, when Prime Minister Trudeau brought the Constitution home, the last ties to the British Parliament were severed.
Like many former dominions, Canada decided to keep the Crown. The monarchy of each country is legally distinct. Thus, Elizabeth II is designated the Queen of Canada and her role in Canada is spelled out by us in our constitution. She is the only member of the royal family with a constitutional role in Canada. Her representative in Canada is our Governor General, who has been a Canadian since Vincent Massey in 1952. Most of the powers and authority of the sovereign have been delegated to the Governor-General, whose duties are mainly symbolic and ceremonial. If, at any time, Canada decides that it would rather be a republic than a monarchy, the federal government could simply hold a referendum and put the matter to a vote by our people – as Australia did a couple of years ago. When put to the test, their people decided to retain the monarchy. It’s our decision and our choice. The Queen does not own any land in Canada. Canada is our country. It belongs to every citizen of Canada. We own it.