Update: The Queen of Canada is dead; long live the British Queen
The Succession to the Crown Bill moved from Westminster to Canada yesterday, which prompted much huffing and puffing on Twitterverse about the expedient approach the government is taking in pushing through fundamental changes that arguably affect the "office of the Queen" by statute alone, instead of by way of constitutional amendment.
When Colby Cosh, a journalist from Alberta, asked the Minister of Heritage, James Moore (the Minister leading the bill in the House of Commons) on Twitter: "Let me put the question this way: could the Dominion Parliament make ME head of state by ordinary statute? To this I replied to Mr. Cosh and the Minister: "Yes it could, but only if the other 15 realms agree that King Colby should reign. Crown entirely subordinate to Parliament," which is a direct consequence of the Williamite dispensation that happened back in 1688. To boos and hisses the Minister responded back to the both of us that "King Colby would not be deemed a friendly amendment to the legislation. Fyi"
All joking aside, the intriguing thing is that the government's legal position seems to be no different from Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent's recognition of the absolute indivisibility of the Crown in the early 1950s when the Queen first ascended the throne.
Her Majesty is now Queen of Canada, but she is the Queen of Canada because she is the Queen of the United Kingdom and because the people of Canada are happy to recognize as their Sovereign the person who is Sovereign of the United Kingdom. It is not a separate office...it is the Sovereign who is recognized as the Sovereign of the United Kingdom who is our Sovereign.And just yesterday, the government stated quite incredibly that the laws governing succession are UK law and are not part of Canada's constitution:
The changes to the laws of succession do not require a constitutional amendment. The laws governing succession are UK law and are not part of Canada’s constitution. Specifically, they are not enumerated in the schedule to our Constitution Act, 1982 as part of the Constitution of Canada. Furthermore, the changes to the laws of succession do not constitute a change to the “office of The Queen”, as contemplated in theConstitution Act, 1982. The “office of The Queen” includes the Sovereign’s constitutional status, powers and rights in Canada. Neither the ban on the marriages of heirs to Roman Catholics, nor the common law governing male preference primogeniture, can properly be said to be royal powers or prerogatives in Canada. As the line of succession is therefore determined by UK law and not by the Sovereign, The Queen’s powers and rights have not been altered by the changes to the laws governing succession in Canada.In an effort to avoid amending the constitution, which requires the unanimous consent of all ten provincial legislatures, the government is arguing that no amendment is required because we are only talking about UK law, not Canadian law. But this asserts that the Queen of Canada is only decided by UK law, which the commentariat has taken to mean that the country is still a colony of Britain. If the country doesn't even have ownership over who its head of state is, how is it a sovereign independent country?
Because we are giving sovereign consent to it in Parliament, that's how. Get it together people - the Queen is a living symbol of a majestic whole, not merely some paraochial national legalistic construct. If we really wanted to, we could make King Colby our sovereign chief of state. But that would be silly, and not in keeping with the glory of our kingdom, which is but one part of a larger organic union under the headship of the First Lady of the World.