John Sainsbury: Why the Aussies Can Debate the Monarchy But Canadians Can't





[John Sainsbury is a professor of history at Brock University.]

The future of the monarchy came up as an issue in the Australian election. No surprise there. Australians have few inhibitions in discussing whether to retain the constitutional status quo or make the bold move to establish a republic....

Why could nothing like this happen in Canada? Why are our politicians so hesitant to engage with the issue of monarchy versus republic? Why, specifically, will there probably never be a referendum on the future of monarchy in this country?...

The aggregate outcome would be difficult to predict given the large numbers, as in Australia, who are apathetic to monarchy, but suspicious of constitutional change. There is, however, a very strong likelihood that a majority in English Canada would vote to retain the Crown, while a majority in Quebec would opt for a republic. Canada's national divisions would be brutally exposed in a way that would make Meech Lake look like a friendly game of ping-pong. National divisions, please note, not any fundamental divisions over political philosophy....

A popular Australian expression is "no worries." When it comes to a discussion of monarchy, unlike the Aussies, we can't be quite so sanguine....


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