I'd love to read about your position on the monarchy as our head of state and (more "interestedly") your opinion about making an oath to the queen when you become a Canadian citizen!I told her I'd save the topic for a mentally rainy day, and that day has finally arrived.
I don't have many feelings about the Queen or her representative, the Governor General, as the head of state. In modern Canada, the role is so symbolic, and seems so perfunctory, that it doesn't stir up many feelings for me.
In theory, separating the head of state from the head of government is a useful tool, allowing the entire populace to look to one country, beyond any ethnic, religious, partisan or other divisions. Does it serve that function in practice? I don't know. It certainly doesn't bring together the French/English divide, and I imagine at times it's exacerbated that rift, since the GG represents the British monarchy. (Does Michaëlle Jean's Haitian and French roots ameliorate that?) On the other hand, Canada is a less divisive society than the US. Is this partially why? Perhaps, although the answers have to be more complex than that.
But the second part of the reader's question - that's another story.
I grew up in a political household, or at least one where I discussed the issues of the day with both parents, all the time. Both my parents were - and my surviving parent still is, I am very pleased to say - very progressive. But they were also patriotic, and saw no contradiction in that. They were both children of immigrants who came to the US to escape poverty and persecution; they both believed the US is a great country, flaws and all. They always told me that wanting the country to live up to its ideals was the highest form of patriotism.
My own disowning of patriotism came much later. Even my mother remembers her former patriotism wistfully.
One piece of the American iconography that I always bought into was the story of the colonists breaking with England, the struggle for freedom and self-representation. Never mind that the story is more complicated than that, and rooted in as much in economics as anything else. We never forgot that the self-representation was only for one class of people, but, we told ourselves, it was a start. The documents were written, there would be no king, and now the work of creating a true democracy could begin.
This is the story I grew up with, and one that is embedded deeply in my consciousness. I remember spending one Fourth of July in Williamsburg, Virginia. This was before the days of theme parks, so it was really all about history. We stared upwards as the Union Jack was lowered and the original US flag was raised - cannons roaring, fireworks exploding. I was perhaps 8 years old, and it was very stirring.
As you can imagine, loyalty to a monarchy is not part of my vernacular.
Obviously Canada built a successful democracy without violently overthrowing the monarchy, choosing instead to adjust its role a little at a time. But to me the very idea of a monarchy is an anachronism, and the antithesis of a democratic state. I realize that Canada has both. I'm speaking from an emotional or psychological perspective.
Then there's the issue of loyalty oaths, in general.
As we've discussed here, only new citizens are asked to make such a declaration. People who are Canadian citizens by accident of birth are not asked to declare their loyalty, and their loyalty is not questioned. This hurdle is reserved for those who actively and consciously choose Canada as a country. I understand the idea behind it, but it seems a little ass-backwards to me.
A loyalty oath for new citizens reminds me of what adoptive parents go through. They pass through a long series of hurdles - financial, psychological, emotional - to prove that they are suited for parenthood. The fact that they have gone to such lengths to become parents might provide a clue to their suitability, whereas anyone - bully, abuser, molester, moron - can become a parent through biological means.
So the whole thing seems a little off to me.
I want to become a Canadian citizen, and I intend to apply as soon as I'm eligible. I'm certainly not going to miss the opportunity because of a symbolic loyalty oath to a symbolic Queen.
It just rubs me the wrong way.
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In preparing this post, I learned about Canada's newest citizens, the history of the current loyalty oath and the Canadian Citizenship Act. Imagine uniform Canadian citizenship dates back to only 1947!
On the oath itself, I found this very informative site from the Monarchist League of Canada.
On the nuts and bolts of becoming a Canadian citizen, the moving-to-Canada crew will want to read Idealistic Pragmatist's excellent post on the subject (written two weeks before Allan and I moved to Canada!).
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. One request, if I may: let's hold off on discussions of whether or not Allan and I will retain our US citizenship when the time comes. (Thanks in advance.)
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Canada's oath of citizenship:
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen."
Here are some oaths of citizenship from other countries.