Head of State Controversy II

19 10 2009

I have posted earlier on the “head of state” controversy and the future of the monarchy in Canada. Political analyst Randall White has published a piece in the Toronto Star on this subject. White has some interesting comments about Canada’s unwritten constitution, an issue I have discussed with blogger Janet Ajzenstat.

I have earlier posted links to polling data that shows that most Canadians want the country to become a republic. I would also like to draw your attention to a poll about Canadian attitudes to the monarchytaken by Angus Reid in September 2007. The poll’s designers sought to find out whether there was a connection between people’s partisan leanings and their attitudes on the monarchy question. The poll found that while virtually all BQ voters are republicans, the other parties’ supporters are divided on the issue.

However, while the monarchy is not an issue that divides English-speaking Canadians on straightforward, left-right lines, there is a statistically significant connection between voting intentions and republicanism. People who vote Conservative in federal elections are the most likely to be the strongest republicans, while NDP voters are most likely to be strong monarchists. Anti-Americanism and monarchism in Canada, which were once the hobby horses of the political right (the Conservatives from Macdonald to Diefenbaker) are now the pet issues of the left. Most Conservatives are now continentalists who want Canada to be more like the United States.

Statue of United Empire Loyalists in Hamilton, Ontario

Statue of United Empire Loyalists in Hamilton, Ontario

In contrast, leftist Canadians are the more likely to be sensitive about differences between Canada and the United States, and thus most likely to defend institutions, such as the monarchy, that illustrate those differences. The picture above is of the monument to the United Empire Loyalists in Hamilton, Ontario, a city with a very left-wing political culture.  Polls like this show just how different the modern Conservative Party of Canada is from historical Canadian conservativism.

The poll also found that men (60%) were more likely than women (45%) to be republicans. I’m not certain what this means.


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