About a third of poll respondents defend the monarchy, a third want a republic and a third don’t care.
BY: MARIO CANSECO
For British Columbia, anything “royal” means business. Our capital is named after the longest-serving monarch. Our province is the only one in Canada that features the word “British” in its name.
We may not be worth the estimated 107 million pounds that Pricewaterhouse Coopers says London made during the last high-profile royal wedding, but Victoria is the place to go to for everything that feels British, whether it is scones or commemorative plates. Not long ago, Lonely Planet described our capital city as “a dreamy version of England that never really was (with) every flagpole adorned with a Union Jack.”
Despite of the influence from the United Kingdom here, British Columbians are divided on whether the monarchy should continue or not. Results of a recent Insights West poll suggest that our province’s inhabitants can be divided into three groups of similar size: 35 per cent want Canada to remain a monarchy, 34 per cent would prefer to have an elected head of state, and 31 per cent either don’t care or are undecided.
Two respondents eloquently summed up the sentiments from the opposing groups on the survey’s feedback form. “It is tradition, and it should continue,” typed a resident. “It is a waste of good money to pay for their trips,” wrote another.
It has been suggested that new Canadians are failing to grasp the concept of the monarchy, and thus, are partly to blame for the drop in public support. I’ve always found this assertion particularly abnormal, because t my citizenship ceremony, I swore true allegiance to Her Majesty, her heirs and successors — something my Canada-born friends and colleagues have never been asked to do.
Across the country, support for the continuation of the monarchy has fluctuated in recent times, usually trending upward before a royal visit from the members who are viewed favourably (that would be Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and Duchess Kate) and getting little traction when the less popular ones arrive (namely Prince Charles and his wife Camilla).
The way British Columbians relate to the members of the Royal Family plays a big role in their analysis of Canada’s constitutional future.
The monarchists — those who favour the status quo — provide extraordinary favourable ratings to Will and Kate (95% each), but are less enthusiastic when asked about Charles (70%) and not even half of them express positive views on Camilla (48%).
Now, let’s look at the republicans — those who want the country to have an elected head of state. They hold little regard for Charles (36%) and Camilla (23%), but their views on Will and Kate are decidedly positive (69% and 76% respectively).
Finally, we can analyze the indifferents — those who do not care or are uncertain about the issue. Even when they are not ready to pick a side, this group holds favourable opinions on Will (78%) and Kate (81%), but sour views on Charles (46%) and Camilla (27%).
Canadian citizens will not get a say on who the next king of Canada will be. Neither did the people of the Netherlands, Belgium or Spain, where long-standing monarchs recently have stepped aside for a new generation. The average age of the three relatively new European kings is 49 years. Charles, Canada’s heir apparent, will turn 66 in November.
Still, Charles’ behaviour — not his age — is the biggest hindrance for a rise in favour in our province. Research conducted by Insights West and The Vancouver Sun found that only 10% of British Columbians believe “married men or women having an affair” is morally acceptable.
An abdication that will lead to William as king is not in the cards, but it is important to look at what this scenario would mean in British Columbia. The monarchists would be thrilled, the indifferents could become more monarchist, and even a third of republicans would be content.
Charles is next in line, but his becoming king would have a severe effect on those who either don’t want a monarch or don’t care about the issue. Even the feeblest discussion about establishing a Republic of Canada would gain momentum if the current Prince of Wales is on the $20 bill.
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