VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – In the wake of the controversy leading to Julie Payette resigning as governor general, there are calls from some for Canada to re-evaluate its relationship with the Royal Family.
“The monarchy is really the appendix of Canada, it’s there we just haven’t removed it. We should and I think it’s only a matter of time before we will,” said Tom Freda, Citizens for a Canadian Republic.
“As we propose having a parliamentary republic – where the Governor General is replaced by a democratically selected Canadian person – the transition between Queen Elizabeth II and her successor would be an excellent time to start discussing a transition away from monarchy.
“Monarchy is something straight out of the middle ages. It’s not appropriate for a country, a twenty-first century country like Canada, and especially one that wants to assert its independence from the world,” added Freda.
However, others argue there’s no need to step away from something they say has had a great history of success.
Keith Roy with the Monarchist League of Canada believes the Royals and the governor general still have important roles to play.
“It’s easy to tie in the personalities of the royal families and the internal workings of Rideau Hall to get frustrated at the institution. But the institution itself is strong, it’s stable, and it’s important for Canadian democracy and good governance,” he explains.
“We’ve separated our systems of government such that Canadians will be protected for generations to come. And that, right there, is reason enough to maintain a monarchy, let alone all the other ancillary benefits provided to the community and the social fabric of our nation.”
Roy argues there’s value in having checks on our elected leaders, pointing to the situation south of the border in recent times as a warning of the limitations of presidential systems of government.
“I would suspect some people didn’t like the president of the United States and that doesn’t mean that we should eliminate the entire presidency. It’s absurd to make the argument that you should eliminate an entire institution because there’s been some internal strife inside of that organization.”
His comments come after Payette stepped down from her role following the findings of an independent review into reports of harassment and bullying at Rideau Hall.
Secretary to the Governor General Assunta Di Lorenzo also stepped down following the probe.
The investigation was sparked after multiple current and former staff came forward to the CBC, describing bullying that led to a toxic workplace, which, in some cases, brought staff to tears.
“Everyone has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, at all times and under all circumstances. It appears this was not always the case at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. Tensions have arisen at Rideau Hall over the past few months and for that, I am sorry,” Payette said in a statement Thursday.
“While no formal complaints or official grievances were made during my tenure, which would have immediately triggered a detailed investigation as prescribed by law and the collective agreements in place, I still take these allegations very seriously. Not only did I welcome a review of the work climate at the OSGG, but I have repeatedly encouraged employees to participate in the review in large numbers. We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions,” she continued.
The governor general is a non-partisan and apolitical representative of the Queen in Canada. One of the most important roles of a governor general is to “ensure that Canada always has a prime minister and a government in place that has the confidence of Parliament.”
Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Richard Wagner will step in as governor general until a new one is appointed. It’s unclear at this point who that may be.
-With files from Kathryn Tindale, Cormac Mac Sweeney and Nigel Newlove