Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dieu protège la reine!

Among the many stupidities widely commented on to be found in "Discover Canada: How To Become a Canadian Citizen During Conservative Governments", I stumbled across the following paragraph on what the Queen is. Check it out:
The Sovereign is a part of Parliament, playing an important, non-partisan role as the focus of citizenship and allegiance, symbol of Canadian sovereignty, guardian of constitutional freedoms, reflection of our history and an encouragement for Canadians to give their best to their country, most visibly during royal visits to Canada.
This disconnect between the contents of that marathon sentence and reality is just so stark as to be, frankly, amazing. She is, apparently, the 'focus of citizenship' - that's just too meaningless to get especially upset about. Now the fact that a foreign monarch who remains our Head of State can in some way be seen as a 'symbol of Canadian sovereignty' is a bit more offensive, but you could consider it just a bad joke, really. It's like how new fighter jets are a symbol of Canada's pacifism. Now Dear ol' Liz is a 'reflection of our history'. A reflection, mind you. We're back to meaninglessness, frankly, so I'll avoid making a joke about her age. But it gets so much better.

Queen Elizabeth II is an encouragement for Canadians to give their best to their country. Seriously. I did not make that up - I couldn't have. That might be the single most preposterous thing I've ever read. The very existence of Auntie Lizzie, in Buckingham Palace with her Corgis, encourages me to give my best to the country. Can anyone take that drivelling nonsense seriously? Can anyone, monarchist or republican, think that a sentence like that imparts dignity to the office of the Queen and to the aspirations of her thirty million Canadian subjects?

As it is, there's one thing about that horrible sentence that I think is useful: it outlines how support for Canada's remaining a monarchy is built only on the emptiest of rhetoric, presumably by people who mistake words for meaning. And considering that this is the best the government can do to convince new Canadians that Canada's continued use of a foreign monarch as our Head of State is a good thing... well, it's no surprise that swearing allegiance to the Queen (something I have never in my life done as a Canadian-born Canadian) is the most contentious aspect of the Oath of Citizenship.

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