Sunny Ways?

“If it were in my power I would try the sunny way…Do you not believe that there is more to be gained by appealing to the heart and soul of men rather than to compel them to do a thing?”—Sir Wilfrid Laurier

“Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways.” When Justin Trudeau quoted Sir Wilfrid Laurier on election night he unleashed a sunnier, more optimistic way of doing politics…the Conservatives were all over it in a heartbeat.

Justin Trudeau on election night

They jettisoned their cloudy ways like moths emerging from their cocoons. New and old-stock Conservatives alike hit the airwaves to make it clear that it was their botched tone, not their mean spirited policies, that cost them the election.

Well, maybe they weren’t quite that blunt.

Jason Kenney said, ”On substantive points, we’ve been a very good government. I think where we went wrong was on tone and we have to learn from our mistakes…We need a conservatism that is sunnier and more optimistic than what we have sometimes conveyed.”  He didn’t explain how he’d describe Duffygate, the Syrian refugee crisis, the niqab issue or stripping Canadians of their citizenship in sunnier language.  

Newly elected Conservative, Tomasz Kmiec said, “We do best when…we talk about the issues in a positive way, that sunny kind of conservatism of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher…that’s what we need to bring back”.

Margaret Thatcher? The if-you-want-to-cut-your-own-throat-don’t-come-to-me-for-a-bandage Margaret Thatcher?

Deepak Obhrai said, “The core Conservative values, of course, won’t change, but we’ll have to put forward a little softer face.”

Lisa Raitt

Conservative strategist Ken Boessenkool suggests the “softer face” should be a woman’s face because “…the Canadian public is not only ready, but prefers, female candidates over male candidates.”

Michelle Rempel would love to be the Conservative’s “softer face”. However in a recent Twitter cloud burst she undermined her chances by slamming the Conservative party who, she said, would reject her as party leader because she’s too young, too bossy, too female and too inexperienced.  It wasn’t exactly Ms Rempel’s sunniest hour.

Lisa Raitt is one of the few Conservatives who hasn’t jumped on the tone bandwagon. She says policy discussions are “tough conversations…on difficult topics, and it’s not all easy all the time.”   Instead of focusing on tone she suggests the party dig into the data to find out who voted for the Conservatives and who didn’t and why.

Interestingly, Ms Raitt is a sunny Conservative. When asked how she felt about moving to the opposition benches she said she welcomed the opportunity to focus on her constituents. “That will be a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Mr Sunshine    

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the leader of the federal Liberals when Manitoba passed legislation blocking public funding for Catholic schools. The Catholic minority asked the federal Conservative government to intervene. The federal government passed legislation “commanding [Manitoba] in the most violent language” to reverse its position or else. Manitoba’s premier flew into a rage over the feds’ violation of the division of powers between the feds and the provinces and called an election which he won, further damaging the federal Conservatives’ credibility.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

The Conservative government eventually fell to Laurier’s Liberals. One of Laurier’s first acts was to implement his “Sunny Ways” policy. He asked the Manitoba premier to be just, fair and generous to the Catholic minority and proposed a compromise: Catholics could have a Catholic education if there were enough students to warrant it.   This would be determined on a school by school basis. Manitoba’s premier accepted the compromise and everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Sunny ways isn’t about tone. If it were Laurier would be known as the prime minister who sweet talked the Manitoba premier into complying with a draconian federal law. Sunny ways is about substance. When faced with a fractious and volatile problem Laurier met with Manitoba’s premier and created a solution that satisfied the Catholics and the Protestants as well as the governments of Manitoba and Canada.

Sunny ways is about what you do, not how you say it.    

The Conservatives, with the possible exception of Lisa Raitt, haven’t grasped that yet. Until they do, brace yourselves for an onslaught of cheerful Conservatives taking selfies and cradling sleeping babies all the while spouting the same old un-sunny Conservative policies.

Not exactly the Eureka moment we were hoping for.

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50 Responses to Sunny Ways?

  1. Joe Simon says:

    SUSAN, I am looking forward to you running for the conservative leadership!!!

  2. Oh Joe, you funny fellow!

  3. anonymous says:

    The foundation is crumbling, all the windows are smashed, the plumbing and electrical are broken but, hey, let’s put on a new coat of paint! A sunny coat of paint! That’ll do the trick!

    And I will believe in a sunnier Lisa Raitt maybe after she admits that her transport department downgraded safety regulations to allow single crew trains, full of explosive cargo, to run through our towns.

    • Anonymous, I’d forgotten about Lisa Raitt’s role in downgrading safety regs, thanks.
      PS I was hoping you’d offer a musical comment, I was expecting something along the “sunny ways” line, but Tom Waits “new coat of paint” is SO much better.

    • John B. says:

      Raitt wasn’t the transport minister when the regulations were changed to allow MMA to downsize its crews. She was appointed in July of 2013 after the Lac-Mégantic incident had occurred. I believe that Denis Lebel was minister when the relevant changes were authorized.

      • anonymous says:

        Raitt was a part of the Harper cabinet when these safety regulations were downgraded. And she apparently didn’t object to that at the cabinet table. When she spoke in Lac-Mégantic after the disaster, six days after becoming minister of transport, she carefully pointed fingers at everyone else except herself and the Harper government. She had, at least, a moral and ethical duty, as transport minister, to accept some of the responsibility for the deaths of forty-seven people. But, like the rest of the Harper government, she failed in her duty to the Canadian people.

      • John and Anonymous, the sad thing about the Harper cabinet is that none of them spoke up against draconian laws, or if they did they didn’t do it very forcefully. Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai says he never supported Bill C-24. He thought it violated human rights and he abstained from the vote on third reading. Seems to me if you think your government is doing something that violates human rights you go public at the time, you don’t wait until your leader has resigned to make a statement of principle. Would he have spoken up if the Conservatives were re-elected with a minority, let alone a majority? Here’s the link: http://calgaryherald.com/news/politics/tory-mp-obhrai-says-he-has-always-opposed-bill-c-24

  4. Tom McPherson says:

    Well I think Harper operated the way he did because he knew of all the back stabbing that occurred over the years with pc gov’ts (Remember Dalton Camp-etc.. He realized that familiarity breeds contempt and keeping all at arms length enabled him to control better. He still has a very good head on his shoulders and if he could ever loosen up and be more human it would bode well for him. Now take Deb Gray riding around on her big Goldwing garnered a lot of respect and if Harper could only do something like that (maybe even riding a scooter) he would gather folks to his side again. Even throwing some tantrums over someone coming onto his attractive wife would help.
    His biggest mistake in my opinion was not trying to get Paul Martin to swing over after he was treated the way he was by the libs. Makes me wonder how anyone that was quite musical could be so cold and aloof at times or should I say all the time.

    • Tom, I found your final comment intriguing. It made me wonder whether musicians are by nature more open than non-musicians. So I googled it. When you eliminate the musicians who spend their lives in an alcohol or drug induced haze, there are many who can be characterized as down right obnoxious. Apparently Paul Simon was impossible to get along with and Van Morrison wasn’t much better. So maybe Harper’s behavior is consistent with that subset of musicians. In all seriousness, I think Harper’s real problem was that he didn’t realize that his hard line Conservative policies only appealed to 30% of Canadians. He couldn’t grow his base and the expected vote split between the Liberals and NDP failed to materialize. He was hooped.

  5. Neil Fleming says:

    After digesting way too much post election dialogue, the comment that I liked the most was “Never mind marijuana, I am just happy that Science is legal again”. I can’t imagine that the reinvented Cons’ sunny ways would ever include evidence based decision making.

    • Neil, given that the reinvented Cons’ sunny ways is simply window dressing, I think you’re absolutely right. We’ll have an opportunity to witness how effective the Cons are at becoming a sunnier and more optimistic party as they select their new leader. I think the Cons’ leadership race is going to be brutal (but entertaining for those of us watching from the sidelines).

  6. david swann says:

    Brilliant distinction between tone and real respect for differences and for constructive relationships in politics. Does anyone benefit from hard positions that yield progress at the cost of relationship? We all deserve better. Thanks Susan!

    • Thanks David. I know that you and your Liberal colleagues understand the need to listen to your constituents and be prepared to speak truth to power (as they say). Not many Conservative MPs had the courage to stand up to Harper and those who did quickly found themselves in Siberia. Brent Rathgaber comes to mind. Harper called him on the carpet for daring to have his own opinion on government policy. Rathgaber said Harper reduced MPs to “cheerleading and barking on demand”. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ex-tory-mp-describes-pmos-tight-control/article20464480/. I find it hard to imagine that with the current crop of leadership hopefuls—John Baird, Jason Kenney, Peter Mackay, etc all of whom are indistinguishable from Harper—things will get any better.

  7. jvandervlugt says:

    The “softer face” should be a woman’s face? That one comment says it all, because how many decades have women been struggling to be taken seriously? You can lead a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink. The Conservatives just don’t get it.

    • Joanna, that comment was bizarre on so many levels. Was the game plan to elect a female leader who’d be more acceptable to the voters but could be manipulated by the big boys behind the scenes? Did they really think all women, including Margaret Thatcher apparently, are soft? Or maybe they just don’t get it like you said.

  8. midgelambert says:

    Conservatives can examine their “tone” as much as they want, but just like Alberta’s PCs, they will never figure out what happen until they realize how out of touch they are. Even after Canadians awesome rejection of their bigoted and racist policy, misogynist comments like Boosenkool’s just show they have absolutely NO CLUE. Good read, Susan. Thanks!

    • Midge, I read a great letter to the editor in the Globe this morning where the writer said, oh I get it, the tone was wrong but the message was great. All they needed to sell the anti-democratic, anti-science, anti-environment, anti-Muslim, Bill C-24 and Bill C51 agenda is a smile, a lollipop and some music. Bingo!

  9. Peter Usher says:

    I was a Scrutineer for the Liberal party in the riding of Calgary Heritage. Yes, Harper’s constituency. During the day and through the count of the ballots I had the opportunity to interact with two scrutineers for the Cons. Perhaps there was bias on my part, but nonetheless, I framed them to be cold, calculating, and one-dimensional with a zero-sum approach to their sense of entitlement. They reminded me of the cartoon character who walks around each day under a cloud. This past week I’ve enjoyed the bright and warm sun in Calgary.

    • Peter, I know what you mean about not wanting to jump to conclusions about Conservatives and yet a lot has been written about the type of people who vote Conservative vs Liberal/NDP or in the American context vote Republican/Tea Party vs Democratic, so there may be some facts that back up your observations. Oh and that character you referred to is Li’l Abner’s Joe Btfsplk (no wonder he’s depressed no one can say his name!). The character that popped into my mind was Winnie the Pooh’s Eeyore, but he’s not exactly right because even Eeyore is kind of cuddly, the Cons are not.

    • GoinFawr says:

      Interesting Peter.
      So, judging by the seat count and your personal experience, the Cons didn’t “botch the tone” at all for Albertans!

      Also, judging by the year’s provincial vs. federal election: Albertans sure are one fickle lot of ballot casters.

      • GoinFawr, you’re an acute observer of the Alberta scene, what do you think happened? Was the NDP win in Alberta an echo of the federal NDP win in Quebec in 2011 and will it collapse four years from now?

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Any doubts Susan? What happened in Alberta was a reaction to 43 years of bad beatings but I do not believe for a minute that Albertans are center-left. No way. You can see the results of the Federal Election where people voted clearly for a very right wing party. The only province to do so along with Saskatchewan.
        Rachel Notley will survive because she is no Redford and she is a popular person, but in my opinion she will have to lift this province out of the misery and out of one resource dependency in 4 years and I personally think that to be impossible. Albertans will not give her another chance if she is just average. Furthermore, the big companies and media are not on her side either.
        Quebec was clearly a rejection of the Bloc Quebecois and the fact that they hated Harper and the Liberals. I think it was very naive of Mulcair to think otherwise. Canada is too close to the US to attempt to go too center-left and right now Harper is almost left as compared to the Republicans. My modest opinion.

      • Carlos, I agree with you. Rachel Notley has very little time to turn Alberta around. She did the right thing by asking well respected experts to head up her panels on infrastructure, climate change and the royalty review, but I think the Wildrose and the PCs will reject their recommendations simply because it serves their narrow political agenda to fight the NDP every step of the way regardless of what it will cost the province in the long run. Alberta is facing a crisis whether it admits it or not. I’m reminded of Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet. He put together a coalition of Tories, Labour, and Liberals to guide the government through WW2. He was a rigid right wing Tory but recognized the importance of bringing the left leaning parties into the process. Not only did the War Cabinet successfully guide Britain through the war, it laid the foundation for the country’s post-war shift to the left with the introduction of social security, public healthcare, public education, etc. Churchill had a huge ego but saw his way clear to work for the greater good of the country. It’s a pity that lesser men like Brian Jean and Ric McIver can’t do the same.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan I could not agree more with you on your reply. The problem to me is that just like climate change people do not want the bad news that we are all in a crisis that will for sure be a great challenge for the world. Not just the environment but socially and especially politically. I have no doubts that the destruction of the NDP is now the only objective of the Wildrose and the PCs. To me, to be very frank, not being able to measure the consequences of continuing this kind of same old same old attitude just demonstrates that we are, to say the least, mediocre. The good people that could do what Churchill did in the second world war are not getting involved. They are not interested in being in a circus. What this means is that the system has reached its shelf life. We are in a vicious circle possibly impossible to stop other than through a major event.

  10. Elaine Fleming says:

    Reflecting on your last post, Susan, about the mainstream media trying to basically subvert Canadian democracy right before the election (telling everyone to vote for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives) I wonder what role they will now play in in our national and provincial politics going forward. My guess is they will be doing everything in their power, which is a lot, to paint the NDP and Liberals in a very negative light and trying to put the “lipstick on the pig” regarding Conservative platforms and whom they benefit. There will be lots of sunny faces smiling behind their new leader in every announcement, trying to reassure Canadians that they have the best of intentions.

    To me, there has been an affirmation of Canadians’ common sense and better natures with the elections in Alberta, and nationally. However, we shouldn’t underestimate the forces that will be brought to bear by the Conservatives, the corporate power that backs them, and their powerful media supporters. They will be a lot more sophisticated this time around. (i.e.no more game shows with Harper doing the “Katching!’ thing in TV advertisements regarding Justin Trudeau’s spending announcements regarding infrastructure and social programs.)

    Get ready!

    • You’re right Elaine. The media tore into Rachel Notley on day one and with the exception of a few stories, hasn’t let up. The stupidity of the situation was illustrated when the media (and the Wildrose I might add) attacked Notley for carrying out her campaign promises to increase taxes and seek advice on the royalty review, climate change and crumbling infrastructure. I’ll be very interested to see how the media deals with the Harper Conservatives. They like salacious comments like Philippe Gervais’s description of Harper’s reign–“They had almost a Stalinistic way of looking at things. You were either on-side, or you were dead.” But I don’t think the media will focus very long on Harper’s dictatorial style of government. They won’t want to undermine the public’s belief that a new leader will be able to transform the Conservatives into a sunnier, more optimistic party. Their endorsements of the Conservatives (with or without Harper) indicate they strongly believe that the best thing for Canada is a centre-right government. By the way, Gervais’s comment was quoted in today’s Globe in an article entitled “Trudeau’s next test: Make change a reality.” What are the odds that a true blue Conservatives read the article after seeing that headline?

  11. Carlos Beca says:

    A couple of weeks ago we discussed the influence of religion on Stphen Harper’s government and we had a bit of a disagreement – this article today sums up pretty well what I also think it has happened

    http://ipolitics.ca/2015/10/26/step-one-in-rebuilding-the-cpc-cutting-loose-the-religious-right/

    • Thanks for the link Carlos. The author, Tasha Kheiriddin’s, comment “And Conservatives of all stripes need to recognize that while religion has a place in public discourse and the social fabric of our nation, faith should not drive party policy.” was bang on. Given Kheiriddin’s credentials–she was a director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and a writer and lecturer on conservatism–this was a pretty hard hitting piece. I wonder when the conservative base is going to wake up and figure out that 60% of Canada is not sympathetic to their position.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Yes Susan I also thought it was bang on. As far as the Conservatives waking up I am not so sure that is possible. The Conservatives now in control of the party are religious fundamentalists and they bully others into submission. This is the reason why Harper agreed to amalgamate with the old Conservative Party. They knew it would be easy to do it especially with MacKay at the helm as he himself seems to be the same line. If there is anyone on the Conservative side willing to challenge the bullies, he/she will have to deal with Jason Kenney, who we all know, is Harper’s attack dog. I think there will be some reality shows coming out of this race for the leadership of the PC party.

  12. GoinFawr says:

    ” Was the NDP win in Alberta an echo of the federal NDP win in Quebec in 2011 and will it collapse four years from now?”

    Early days yet, Susan, but if the federal election is any indicator such a collapse seems likely.
    It is also worth noting that in the provincial election the actual majority of the popular vote was split between the WildRose and the Banker Led Provincial Cons, so I suppose ~60% of the province choosing the federal Bilderberg representatives over anyone else really shouldn’t be so surprising (to me).

    Then again, unlike the federal NDP, Ms.Notley and Alberta’s dippers actually have a majority gov’t, so they’re not just standing as fruitlessly flapping opposition to be effectively ignored by the governing party and mainstream media alike; the dippers have a chance to actually do some things in Alberta. Though, judging from the reaction to this recessionary budget, media distortions are apparently still going to be par for the course (Eg. Even the CBC’s run-down of this budget displayed the province`s TOTAL debt in large font while painstakingly failing to mention that all of that debt should be attributed to the last ~40 years of irresponsible fiscal policy, and not placed squarely on the shoulders of this first, single, NDP budget.)

    Naturally there are many, many factors and policies to take into account, but how they play the fluctuations in oil prices will in large part determine the endurance of the success of Alberta’s NDP. Eg.They have a plan right now to invest in the industry while prices are low, and private investment is dropping; which is smart because public ownership of a profitable industry is an excellent way to balance budgets without cutting services. And any investor, private or public, can tell you that you get more for your money when you enter a market nearer to its bottom than its top. That said, for the plan to actually place a fiscal feather in the NDP’s cap, the price of hydrocarbons will have to rise enough, and with time to spare before the next election, for such investments to become profitable and generate the debt-reducing revenue intended.

    Another, more political method, of maintaining NDP support might be some legal inquiries into the previous gov’t’s opaque cronyism, and the indictment of individuals who may have wilfully allowed their personal interests to become contradicted with those of their respective oaths of office…

    So all told: yet too soon to tell, I think. But again, unlike the federal NDP in 2011, Alberta dippers were given a mandate in 2015, and the time to fulfill it.

    Thanks for asking!

    • carlosbeca says:

      Goinfawr, it is indeed too early, but judging by the first budget I think that they are getting ready for the big fall.
      I thought they would hold the line and not make the cuts to health and education like they had promised. Instead they increased spending basically on all ministries. This does not seem a very smart move when it is one of the worst years for Alberta Finances and when there is no light at the end of the tunnel for oil prices. It is also a very bad move when at least 80% of Albertans are Conservatives.

      Why no light at the end of the tunnel?
      First of all our main customer, the US is now self sufficient in oil if the prices rise again. Secondly China has an agreement with Russia for oil and gas. They do not need to come this far. Finally the Renewable Resources Industry is at a tipping point. Investment is accelerating with or without high oil prices. It is competitive, clean and people are realizing that it is a very smart choice overall. In other words, Alberta will have to learn how to live without oil being our parachute. If the majority does not want more taxes then they will have to choose which departments will have to close (example: Health Care, Education….) . If people do not want to do away with these then we have deficits. There is no way around this situation. We are just wasting time around obvious mathematics. Unless of course the religious fundamentalists can perform miracles. Who knows? Is Brian Jean a pastor?
      The problem to me is that the left is afraid of raising taxes and the right is afraid of shutting down what they do not believe should be there as for example Universal Health Care.

      • GoinFawr says:

        “If people do not want to do away with these (Healthcare/education, etc) then we have deficits.
        There is no way around this situation. ”

        If you’ll forgive the pun:
        There is ‘Norway’ around this situation.

        The Norwegians (and others) have demonstrated that public ownership of profitable enterprises can fund all sorts of essential services without the need for miracles. Alberta’s NDP are currently taking steps in that direction, and if their (Albertans’) investment can generate some return before the next provincial election, enough to at least recover the initial cap-ex, they may impress Albertans yet.

        And perhaps I am being cynically myopic, but I don’t forsee the global demand for oil products shrinking dramatically anytime soon. And there are questions as to whether or not the US can even maintain it’s current rates of production (think of the Red Queen running ever faster just to stand still).

        There is always a way, CB.

      • carlosbeca says:

        GoinFawr I agree with you about Norway but I meant if people do not want to raise taxes. My point was that if people want the services but not raise taxes then it does not work. The problem is that we like the services we have but we want to continue reducing taxes. That does not work. If people want to reduce taxes then they have to give up the programs. This is what I meant. I am sorry if my English was not clear but … sometimes it does happen unfortunately.

  13. GoinFawr and Carlos: Like you I’m pleased the Notley government has a majority which gives her the opportunity to put her policies into practice. While she’s making an effort to fund areas that will lead to greater diversification the impact of such diversification won’t be felt until after her first term expires. Nevertheless she may have a chance of returning to power in 4 years time if: (1) energy prices recover by year 3 of her term and everyone goes into “boom” euphoria again, and (2) there are significant improvements in the delivery of health services (including seniors’ care) and public education. I’m glad she’s not cutting front line workers, but I think the problems with our healthcare and education delivery systems run far deeper than just a shortage of staff. IMHO.
    Having said all that if anyone can fix this mess it’s Rachel Notley.

  14. GoinFawr says:

    Just-in, new Liberal Cabinet being sworn in.

    They ALL (must?) swear “solemnly and faithfully” to serve a foreign monarch. Canada does not even merit an honourable mention in the verbiage. Inexplicably not one pundit, commentator, journalist, or columnist seems to be concerned by the treasonous nature of such vows, except to constantly assure us that the ceremony is really only lip service, and that the MP’s actual loyalty is to the Canucks who elected them, regardless of any oaths to the Queen they take.

    But this begs the question: if our elected representatives can (must?) mouth such cognitive dissonance on such a momentous occasion, without flinching, what doublethink will they be expected to sell to Canucks once push comes to shove.

    And I bet that is why many otherwise excellent candidates will not, cannot, in good conscience, ever run for public office in Canada; they would balk when asked to swear their allegiance to an entity other than those who placed their sacred trust in them by electing them to office.

    • GoinFawr says:

      Here Majesty is pretty nice girl, but

      I think she ought to call it a day.

      • GoinFawr, I think the Queen is awesome, but I too was a little surprised by the oath. I suppose it comes from the fact that Canada is a constitutional monarchy in addition to being a parliamentary democracy and a federal state, but I really expected to hear more “Canada” and less “Her Majesty”.

  15. GoinFawr says:

    I think she’s a pretty nice girl, you think she’s awesome, and those are both fair enough.
    But is she ‘awesome’ enough to swear allegiance to in lieu of one’s own nation?
    Or do you mean she has forces worthy of our awe, so I ought to zip it right smartly?

    • GoinFawr, I agree with you on all counts. While I think the Queen is awesome as a person in the sense that (unlike some) she takes her duties and responsibilities seriously, that doesn’t mean that I think the monarchy as an institution is a good idea or, and this is the important point, that it plays a meaningful role in the governance of Canada. I don’t know why the oath of office would continue to carry such one-sided language requiring our leaders to swear allegiance to the Queen but not requiring them to swear allegiance, loyalty, fealty, whatever to Canada and its people. Please feel free to carry on unzipped!

      • Kris says:

        I know it’s been a few weeks but I just saw this and wanted to respond. The reason for the language in the oath is that, officially speaking, the monarch of Canada appointed the prime minister and cabinet to serve as her advisors, so the oath made is to do that to the best of their abilities.

      • Kris says:

        Forgot to mention, in the constitution it explicitly says that the queen passes laws with the advice and consent of the House of Commons and the senate

  16. Kris, thanks for your comments. It does make sense that the oath would refer to the queen given that Canada is a constitutional monarchy as well as a federal state and a parliamentary democracy. I think my surprise came from how little mention (if any) there was to fealty to Canada itself. But at the end of the day it’s not a huge deal because as you point out in your second comment, the queen passes laws “with the advice and consent” of the House and senate.

    • GoinFawr says:

      We seem to be ahead of the curve susan, because recently this ‘oath of allegiance to the head of a foreign, self-perpetuating autocracy’ issue is once again being presented as “huge deal” by the national broadcaster; as it should be, in my opinion.

      The oath(s) in question are not simply tradition, they are legally binding contracts; so since a person (a pol especially) is no better than their word this is no minor distraction, it is a fundamentally Canadian question that really ought to be addressed by some sort of referendum; yesterday.

      When it comes to Canada’s national elected reps, the oath contains absolutely NO mention of Canada or Canadians whatsoever:

      “I, ……………, do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second” , End of.

      http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/LOP/researchpublications/bp241-e.htm

      Indeed, assuming Canada’s pols see themselves as actual public servants of a mandate from the Canadian masses rather than sycophants of an absent monarch, and as such are merely merely lip servicing a ceremony or ‘tradition’ before they enter office, this begs a very important question: if our elected representatives can (must?) mouth such cognitive dissonance on such a momentous occasion, without flinching, what doublethink will they be capable of disingenuously selling to Canucks if democratic push comes to plutocratic shove?

      Anybody entering any level of public office, from soldier to judge to file clerk, must make a similar vow to the Queen and her descendants; I reiterate that because of this onerous obligation there are many Canadian born individuals of integrity who will refuse to enter public service because they wish to serve Canadians faithfully, not swear a faithful, solemn oath to attend on a foreign autocrat and all her heirs.

      Still, mere coincidence or not, it is heartening that since we’ve been discussing this issue it is now getting coverage on a national level.

  17. GoinFawr: thanks for the additional information on this issue. I too am heartened to learn that the issue is getting national attention. I’m not surprised that it was raised here first on the Soapbox. With readers like you we’re pretty well guaranteed to be ahead of the curve on most issues. 🙂
    It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out over time.

  18. GoinFawr says:

    Hehe, “merely” interested? And indeed it will.

    But I see I have made a mistake, this:

    “I, ……………, do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second”

    is not the oath.
    Since 1905 that is the alternative; it’s what you are obligated to say to the reigning monarch if you refuse to take the real oath.

    Which is actually:
    ” I, ________ do swear, That I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to
    Her Majesty Queen Victoria.” With caveats pertaining to the wishes of the monarchy, naturally.

    • Kris says:

      Why are you assuming that it must be either “totally loyalty to the queen” or “lying about the oath”? The job of the cabinet is to advise the queen to pass the best laws for Canada. If they don’t do that, the commons can decide that they don’t have confidence in the cabinet and ask the queen to appoint another one. Their loyalty is to best advise her how to serve the people, with the point that ,unlike an autocrat, she is unable to pass laws without the consent of the commons. She has no interests besides doing what the parliament allows her to do.

      • GoinFawr says:

        I’m not assuming anything: the wording of the oath is quite clear as to whom is receiving the oath-takers’ allegiance, and there is absolutely no mention of Canadians whatsoever. So, if a pol swears allegiance to one entity, but really plans to serve another there is a lie.

        Why do you cling to such outdated imperialist dogma that perpetuates Canadian subservience to an unelected foreign monarch, inimical to democratic institutions by definition?

        Can you please give me one decent reason why on earth Canadians should still be required to gain “Royal Assent” from a foreign head of state to pass their legislation?

        Or how about one good reason why there ought not to be federal referendum on the subject?

      • Kris says:

        The cabinet only has one job in law-making: advise the monarch of Canada (which as of 1953 is separate from the monarchy of Britain) on the laws she passes. It is their job to make sure that the laws she passes are for the best of all Canadians. If they fail to do that then the have broken their oath to serve the queen. Democracy is found in responsible government, in which the appointed cabinet must make sure the elected House of Commons approves of their advice. If they do. Of, they declare they have no confidence in the cabinet and ask the queen to appoint a new cabinet. The reason the head of government and head of state are separate positions is to prevent either one from becoming to powerful and because the fathers of Confederation preferred Britain over America.

        So to sum up, the cabinet works for the monarchy. The House of Commons works for the people. The queen of Canada and the queen of Britain are two different positions held by the same person.

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