OTTAWA, ON (May 30, 2018): Many Canadians were transfixed earlier in the month with the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, on May 19. It is only natural for Canadians to be interested in this wedding, beyond the spectacle of celebratory, given the continuing role of the monarchy in our parliamentary democracy.
The importance of the monarchy is the subject of this commentary by MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley. Titled “Crowning Glory: Monarchy’s Little Understood Contribution to Canada’s Greatness,” this commentary explores the value of Canada’s continued embrace of the monarchy and the institution of the Crown.
As Crowley notes, from the original authority of the Crown came the unintended or “grown” consequence: “that the personal rule of the wearer of the crown was increasingly hemmed in by the requirements of consent from parliament to the government’s ambitions.”
As a result of this consequence, power was taken out of the hands of the sovereign and placed in the hands of the ministers of the Crown, who take responsibility for the actions of the state.
“Thus the politically accountable institution of the Crown,” said Crowley, “has emerged as by far the greatest and most important part of the monarchy that once rested in the hands of the individual who occupied the throne.”
Since the sovereign reigns but does not rule, the monarch is above political partisanship and therefore symbolizes the unity of the nation. Crowley contrasts this happy state of affairs with the desire of so-called “rationalists” for a republican system with an elected head of state. He says, that “in an era of identity politics in which the political parties seem ever more bound to try and appeal to voters based on their membership in some group or another, whether taxpayers or sexual or racial minorities or veterans or the ‘middle class’, such a unifying symbolism is sorely needed.”
It is through the institution of the monarchy, concludes Crowley, that we are reminded of our “shared tradition of the rule of law, of the indispensable consent of the governed, of Magna Carta, habeas corpus, and a thousand other rights and traditions and customs.”
The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is the leading independent federal public policy think tank in Ottawa.
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(Image credit: Royal.uk)