by David Korzinski | November 29, 2021 8:00 pm
November 30, 2021 – The tiny island nation of Barbados is making a big change by becoming a republic and cutting ties to the British monarchy that has signified – at least in part – colonial rule for nearly 400 years.
With the health of Queen Elizabeth, who turned 95 this year, under increasing scrutiny, questions about the long-term future of Canada’s place as a constitutional monarchy are subject to more discussion.
Now, a new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds people in this country disinclined to maintain the status quo for generations to come by a margin of two-to-one: just over half (52%) say Canada should not remain a constitutional monarchy indefinitely, while one-quarter (25%) say it should.
These data reflect a significant decline in support for the system as Canadians grow increasingly weary of their relationship with the crown. Indeed, a little over five years ago, the number saying the country should remain a constitutional monarchy for generations to come stood at over 40 percent.
With Queen Elizabeth at the helm, however, Canadians are reasonably content with the current arrangement. A full majority (55%) say they support Canada’s place in the monarchy with the current Queen – who next year is expected to mark 70 years as Canada’s head of state. This drops to just 34 per cent with her assumed successor Prince Charles as the hypothetical king.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many Canadians carry a greater connection with the Queen than the institution she represents. Indeed, asked how her death might affect them, most say they’ll feel sad (56%) while one-fifth (19%) say they won’t feel anything.
The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.
Across the globe, monarchists, constitutionalists and celebrity watchers alike have watched with increasing anxiety Queen Elizabeth’s recent challenges with her health. She was absent from the United Kingdom’s annual Remembrance Day ceremony due to a sprained back, the fourth appearance she has cancelled in recent months after an October visit to the hospital. She’s been feeling better, according to recent reports, and “looking forward” to the royal family’s annual Christmas gathering at her country home in Norfolk, England. Next year, celebrations are being planned for her 70th anniversary as monarch.
Barbados will not be a part of those celebrations, however. The Caribbean Island, a longtime constitutional monarchy like Canada, cut ties with the Crown this week, declaring itself a republic. The Queen is no longer that nation’s head of state, instead Barbados elected its governor general to serve in the largely symbolic role.
Experts now wonder whether Barbados’ decision will cause a domino effect in the 15 remaining Commonwealth countries – including Canada – where the Queen is still the head of state. So far, it’s inspired a rallying cry in Australia for a new referendum on turning the country into a republic.
Among Canadians, more than half do not see a long-term future for the monarchy. Twice as many (52%) people prefer Canada to give up this system in generations to come as would keep the head of the British royal family as Canadian head of state (25%). This represents a considerable decline from more evenly divided opinions on this subject noted by the Angus Reid Institute in 2016 and 2020:
Opinions differ widely by region. Those in Quebec feel most hardened against remaining tied to Britain, while Manitobans are evenly divided:
Men feel more strongly about ditching the constitutional monarchy system than women. Three-in-five (58%) men aged 35 to 54 believe we should move on from having the Queen as our head of state, while less than half (45%) of women the same age say the same:
The desire to separate Canada’s government from the royal family is also stronger among Indigenous people. Three-in-five (61%) Indigenous people say it’s time to discontinue the constitutional monarchy, a number 10-points higher than those who don’t identify as visible minorities:
But what to replace the constitutional monarchy with? For Barbados, parliament elected its governor general, Sandra Mason, to serve as the nation’s first president and head of state.
Canadians are split on they would prefer to see in the absence of a constitutional monarch. One-quarter (27%) say the prime minister should become the head of state and head of government, while one-in-five (20%) would like to see a U.S.-style system with an elected head of state who is also the head of government. Another one-in-five (18%) like the idea of keeping the appointed governor general but dropping the ties to Britain and one-in-ten (8%) say it should be the speaker of the House of Commons who performs the role left vacant by the Queen.
Support for the prime minister taking on the dual role of head of state and head of government is highest in Quebec, where support is also the lowest for keeping an appointed governor general. One-in-ten (11%) in Saskatchewan would prefer the prime minister become head of state, the lowest of any region in the country:
While a majority of Canadians would prefer the country move away from being a constitutional monarchy, they are – for now – reasonably content with the current arrangement. Half (55%) say they support Canada continuing to recognize Queen Elizabeth II by swearing oaths to her, putting her on currency and recognizing her as official head of state as long as she reigns, while 45 per cent are opposed:
Support for the Queen as Canadian head of state has declined over the years, however. In April 2016, two-thirds (64%) of Canadians said they supported recognizing the Queen as the official head of state as long as she reigned. Even as recently as January of last year, three-in-five (61%) said the same:
This decline may possibly be explained by the fact that Canadians are also finding the royal family less relevant than it used to be. In January 2020, two-in-five (41%) said the royal family was no longer relevant to themselves personally, a number that has now climbed to half (49%):
A majority of all demographics say the royal family is becoming less relevant, or they are not relevant at all, but the majority is smallest among women over the age of 54, of whom one-third (33%) say the royal family is as relevant as it used to be:
Were Queen Elizabeth II to die, or step down, her son, Prince Charles, is next in the line of succession. Canadians are far less supportive of the notion of “King Charles” as head of state. Two-thirds (66%) say they are opposed to recognizing him, a number that has grown from the more than half (54%) who said so in 2016:
Government systems aside, for many Canadians, Queen Elizabeth II is the only monarch they’ve ever known. She ascended to the throne on June 2, 1953 and is the longest-reigning British monarch in history. Half (56%) of Canadians say they will be sad when she dies, including one-quarter (25%) who will be “very sad”. Older Canadians are more likely to say they will be upset at the Queen’s death; three-quarters (75%) of women older than 54 say they will be sad when she dies, including two-in-five who say they will be “very sad”:
For those who identify as visible minorities and Indigenous people, the attachment to Queen Elizabeth is not as strong. A slim majority of both of those groups say they will not really be affected by the Queen’s death, including three-in-ten Indigenous people who say they won’t feel anything at all when the Queen dies:
While three-in-five (57%) of those who prefer Canada continues as a constitutional monarchy for generations to come say they will be “very sad” when the Queen dies, many (40%) who prefer Canada sever ties with the royal family also say they will be upset at the Queen’s death. However, a majority (60%) of those that want the system of constitutional monarchy to come to an end say they will not really be affected by her death:
The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Nov. 26 – 29, 2021 among a representative randomized sample of 1,898 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.
For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.
For detailed results by preference for constitutional monarchy, click here.
To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.
To read the full questionnaire, click here.
Image – DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro
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Source URL: https://angusreid.org/canada-queen-elizabeth-constitutional-monarchy-republic/
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