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Are we there yet?

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

I have spent more than 95 per cent of my life in Canada and identified myself as being Canadian in recent censuses, however, I was born in England. My dad was from Scotland and my mom from Wales though she moved to England at a young age. We also had some Irish and French blood in our background. Meanwhile, my wife’s parents had Italian and German roots so I consider our family a rich mixture of ethnicity. You will see my problem after looking at the makeup of Canada.

Our current Canadian population is over 38 million! However, in the 2016 census, 32.5 per cent of the Canadian population (then 35 million) reported at least one origin from the British Isles, and 13.6 per cent at least one French origin.

Canadian was the top origin, with 11.1 million people reporting this ancestry alone or in combination with other origins, representing approximately one‑third (32.3 per cent) of the country’s population.

Aboriginal people in Canada contributing to the richness and diversity of Canadian cultural heritage numbered 2.1 million people, or 6.2 per cent of the total Canadian population.

Here is my problem. Less than one-third of our population now identify as British. While I admired Prince Philip and do admire Queen Elizabeth II, as people, I found it rather unusual that our Canadian flags flew at half-mast during the entire 10 days of mourning for the loss of Prince Philip. As the Queen celebrated her 95th birthday recently, I’m wondering how long our flags will be flown at half-mast after she passes?

I feel badly that the members of the royal family are among the least free people in the world. They have little choice about where they live, and their schedules are fixed months ahead. Prince Harry obviously didn’t want to continue to be trapped in that life.

However, all things considered, they have done an admirable job for their country. But how did the monarchy ever start in the first place? From feudal times, the poor commoners were forced to financially support those with power. The most powerful and richest rose to the top.

In 2021, maybe it’s time we started looking at all of this and put away all this colonial baggage. The most offensive feature of the monarchy is that it cements privilege at the top of state and society. Royalty symbolizes that “pedigree” still matters in Britain, of course. Abolishing the monarchy would encourage supporting principles of equality and democracy.

In today’s world it doesn’t seem to make sense for Canada to continue to have someone in an entirely different country, living in a castle, as head of state for Canada.  Will we have to tell our children that when they grow up they can be anything they want, except head of state of Canada?

British taxpayers pay about $468 million a year to support the monarchy. The grand total payment in Canada, (excluding the cost of hosting visits), is approximately $50.5 million per year. That works out to $1.44 Canadian per capita.

Of course there’s the hidden costs. Our ex-Governor-General, Julie Payette, despite leaving early due to a workplace scandal, still qualifies for a lifetime pension of at least $149,484 per year. On top of that, former Governor-Generals are entitled to a lifetime expense program that gives them access to up to $206,000 per year from the budget of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor-General. We also support provincial lieutenant-governors who are also covered for expenses. The last number I could find worked out to $7,604,502 in 2012. A good portion of it is maintaining stately properties, like the 29-room Fanningbank in PEI. Again, that doesn’t include the costs for royal visits.

So are we there yet? Well, over half of our population is now under 30. Do you think they would support the Monarchy? I think it is time to break allegiance away from the British Monarchy before Prince Charles rises to the throne. What about you? I’m at if you would like to cast your vote.