The Crown Hurts Diplomacy?
Paul Heinbecker, a former Canadian diplomat and now the Director of Global Relations at Wilfrid Laurier University, contributed a column to the Globe and Mail entitled “The Monarchy Hurts Canada’s Standing in the World. It’s Time To Let It Go” on July 1st – a deliberately auspicious day to advocate the destruction of Canada’s constitutional system and British inheritance. A longer version of Heinbecker’s article, under the strange title “Rethinking Canada’s Place in the Monarchy,” also appears in a new online publication called “Constitution.ca.”
Heinbecker argues that Canada should become a republic in order to improve its standing in the world. He declares from the outset of the longer piece:
Fealty to the British monarchy is an anachronism and a drag on Canadian foreign policy that confuses many and delivers little.
This phrasing, as well as his derisive references to “‘our’ throne,” suggests that Heinbecker believes that the one and indivisible Imperial Crown of the 19th and early 20th centuries still exists, when in reality it has long since multiplied out into a personal union of several Crowns vested in one natural person. The phrasing “Canada’s Place in the Monarchy” also implies that the Crown of Canada is a foreign object from which Canada can detach itself. In order to prove this argument, Heinbecker would have to demonstrate that the United Kingdom has determined Canadian foreign policy throughout the 20th century and that Canada does not possess a separate international legal personality. However, Heinbecker’s own examples in fact prove the opposite position, that the Crown of Canada is a separate legal person from the Crown of the United Kingdom (as part of a personal union) and that Canada therefore does both possess and exercise its separate international legal personality. In the next paragraph, he exalts the Government of Canada’s achievements in foreign affairs, in many of which he played a role. He described his experience in the Foreign Service in positive terms.
Canada was regarded as the most successful country on the planet in integrating foreigners into our society and making diversity a strength, all the while safeguarding the rule of law, protecting the interests of our minorities, albeit with some regrettable lapses with respect to aboriginal Canadians, and promoting progress abroad. As Prime Minister Mulroney’s foreign policy adviser, I saw the high regard with which Canada was held overseas in fighting Apartheid in the Eighties and in promoting German unification in the Nineties, often in conflict with London. As Canadian Ambassador to the UN, I saw the respect Canada enjoyed when Prime Minister Chrétien withstood British (and American) pressure to join in the catastrophic 2003 Iraq war.
Heinbecker thereby undermines the main thrust of his argument. Despite the “anachronism” that “fealty to the British monarch” represents, and despite Canada’s status as a constitutional monarchy, the Government of Canada achieved great accomplishments in its own right as an independent, sovereign country possessing its own international legal personality. In fact, as Heinbecker notes, the Mulroney government and the Thatcher government took different positions on the Apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1980s and opposite positions on German Reunification in 1990 – both despite the fact that the British and Canadian Crowns form part of a personal union vested in Queen Elizabeth II. In other words, the Queen of the United Kingdom (at least initially) opposed German reunification, while the Queen of Canada supported it. In 2002 and 2003, the Blair government supported the Bush administration and joined the “Coalition of the Willing” that invaded Iraq in order to topple Saddam Hussein and spread democracy à la Bonaparte. The Chretien government (wisely, in my view as well) decided that Canada would not participate in this foolish war. As in the previous examples, the contrary positions of the British and Canadian governments reveal the nature of the Personal Union: the Queen of the United Kingdom was at war with Iraq, while the Queen of Canada was not. Heinbecker’s own examples clearly demonstrate that Canada does not pay “fealty to the British monarchy.”
The Crown of Canada and British Colonialism
Heinbecker also argues:
In international relations, fealty to the British monarch delivers us precisely zero benefit in the conduct of Canadian foreign policy and at the same time associates us with a checkered British colonial legacy.
If that case, how on earth did Canada realized those achievements from 1984 to 2003 that he mentioned in the earlier paragraph? Heinbecker cites the legacy of British colonialism and decolonization in Africa, India, and the effects of the Skyes-Picot Treaty of 1916 on the Middle East as examples of British Imperial baggage that somehow hinders the conduct of Canadian diplomacy. But Heinbecker offers no evidence that this legacy has affected Canada’s foreign policy in Africa or India.
Invoking the Sykes-Picot Treaty is particularly bizarre, given that both the British and the French used it to carve out their respective spheres of influence and administration of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. How has Sykes-Picot affected the conduct of Canada’s foreign policy in the Middle East? Perhaps one example comes from the Suez Crisis and Canada’s peace-keeping force. Egyptian President Nasser initially objected to Canada’s participation in the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) because “Her Majesty’s British troops were replaced by Her Majesty’s Canadian troops.” Nasser also apparently objected to the Royal Canadian Navy’s White Ensign, which was identical to that of the Royal Navy at the time, and to the Red Ensign, which contains the Union Flag in its canton. (As Prime Minister, Pearson did away with the Red Ensign and replaced it with the Maple Leaf). Despite Nasser’s initial objections, Pearson’s efforts paid off and Canada became known for her peacekeeping efforts throughout the Cold War. And even if this case falls under Heinbecker’s category, focusing on the Crown of Canada misses the larger point that Prime Minister St. Laurent opposed Prime Minister Eden’s disastrous invasion of Egypt under the guise of protecting the Suez Canal; as with those earlier examples, the Queen of the United Kingdom and the Queen of Canada took different positions because each country has a separate international legal personality.
Perhaps Heinbecker is correct. But in order to prove this claim, he would have to demonstrate that Canada’s status as a constitutional monarchy and the personal union of the Commonwealth Realms have someone prevented the Government of Canada from pursuing its desired diplomatic objectives. If anything, Heinbecker’s own examples on Canada’s diplomatic success between 1984 and 2003 point to precisely the opposite conclusion! And even if Heinbecker is correct, a few diplomatic kerfuffles do not make a good argument on why the Dominion of Canada should reject its inheritance and become the First Federal Republic of Canada. Even if Canada were a republic now or had been a republic in the mid-20th century, we will never be able to erase our history and the fact that Canada was once a British Crown colony.
The Queen’s Representation of Canada Abroad
Heinbecker recounts an event that occurred during his time as Canada’s Ambassador to Germany. The Queen of the United Kingdom visited Bonn (the capital of the former West Germany) in order to promote British businesses in Germany. Heinbecker thought that the Queen should also act in her Canadian capacity and promote Canadian businesses at the same diplomatic event, so he asked the aide-de-camp of the British diplomat accompanying the Queen of the United Kingdom to broach the subject with his superior. “It was evident from his startled reaction that such an idea had never occurred to him,” Heinbecker writes. Derek Burney, also a former diplomat and anti-monarchist closely associated with the Mulroney government, told a similar anecdote in 2011 about a similar conversation with a British diplomat that occurred in the 1980s.
First, the Queen of Canada only represents Canada abroad on and in accordance with the advice of her Canadian government because responsible government means that ministers of the Crown take responsibility for all acts of the Crown. For instance, the Queen of Canada represented Canada in France in 2007 when Her Majesty rededicated the Canadian war memorial at Vimy. Her uncle, King Edward VIII, also acted as the King of Canada when he dedicated our memorial in Vimy at its initial opening in 1936. The Queen of Canada has also represented Canada in the United States. For instance, the Queen of Canada and President Eisenhower, each representing their respective countries, jointly opened the St. Lawrence Seaway at an official State ceremony in 1959.
Second, the Queen only represents one Commonwealth Realm of which she is the sovereign or head of state at any one time on official trips abroad, apart from two addresses to the United Nations General Assembly in 1957 and in 2010. In 2010, the Queen said, “I address you today as Queen of sixteen United Nations Member States and as Head of the Commonwealth of 54 countries,” and the flags of all 16 Commonwealth Realms fly upon the Queen’s arrival.
This procedure of representing only one Realm on a diplomatic visit during the conduct of official business avoids unnecessary confusion, but it does not derogate from the personal union of the Crowns. The personal union of the Crowns of the Commonwealth Realms always exists because Elizabeth II always personifies all the Crowns, but the personal union also imposes a physical limitation that the Queen of the United Kingdom and the Queen of Canada cannot speak with one voice. For practical reasons, the Queen does not act in more than one capacity at once. Her Majesty’s addresses to the United Nations General Assembly are the exception because of the nature of the UNGA itself, where representatives of all 16 Commonwealth Realms are gathered, and because the speeches did not contain anything controversial.
Heinbecker presents an absurd notion that violates both common decency and diplomatic protocol: that he, as a Canadian diplomat, could, with no preparation or briefing, ask a British aide-de-camp to ask a British ambassador who in turn would ask that the Queen of the United Kingdom to represent Canada abroad with no advice from the Government of Canada. And frankly, Heinbecker either knows that this is absurd, or he is ignorant of his own trade. The British aide-de-camp probably looked shocked and did not appreciate Heinbecker’s suggestion, because Heinbecker was totally out of order. Not even the British ambassador to Germany– let alone the British ambassador’s aide-de-camp – would possess the authority to advise the Queen in her Canadian capacity on any matter whatsoever. Only Canadian Ministers of the Crown could do so. Ironically, if the Queen had acted in her Canadian capacity on the advice of British officials, Heinbecker would have succeeded only in harkening back to the 19th century, when Canada was still a colony of the British Imperial Crown and not a sovereign state bearing its own separate legal personality in its own right as part of the personal union of the Commonwealth Realms. In fact, the British Imperial Crown multiplied outward into a personal union of several Crowns in the 1930s precisely because the Sovereign started to act upon the advice of separate sets of responsible ministers with respect to those separate Dominions. 
Heinbecker probably intended to use this anecdote as some kind of ironic critique of the Crown of Canada, as in “What is the point in being a monarchy if the Queen doesn’t promote Canadian businesses abroad and only focuses on the United Kingdom?” In reality, Heinbecker’s anecdote relies on the fallacy of appeal to authority (that his role as a diplomat in and of itself means that the reader must take his account as unassailable), a complete rejection of diplomatic protocol, and on an objectively false interpretation of the role of the Queen of Canada under Responsible Government.
The Politicians’ Republic
Heinbecker defines the Crown as “a legal convenience and historical artefact in Canada, even a convenient fiction” as well as “an anachronism” to which Canada is “manacled” — as if the Crown were a ball and chain and symbol of colonial servitude. He also refers to Canada’s “link to the monarchy” – again, as if the one and indivisible Imperial Crown still existed and as if the Crown of Canada did not form an integral part of the constitution. A “link” could be severed with no complications. Heinbecker thereby dismisses the Crown of Canada’s centrality within the Constitution of Canada, particularly in sections 9 and 17 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which acknowledge that the executive authority of Canada is vested in the Crown, and that the Parliament of Canada, or the Crown-in-Parliament, consists of the Crown, Senate, and Commons. The Crown is thus integral to both the executive and the legislature. A vestigial anachronism cannot form the basis of the daily operation of the government and parliament. Despite describing the Crown as an anachronism, Heinbecker does acknowledge the fact that only an amendment under the unanimity formula of section 41(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982 could bring forth his Elitist Politician’s Republic in which the Governor General would subsume the Queen’s authority and functions and be elected by the 1050 elected representations in the House of Commons and provincial assemblies but only “from among the members of the Order of Canada.” (It is unclear whether the eligible pool of candidates for Governor General would consist only of the “Members” of the Order of Canada, or whether this would also include the two higher categories, Officers and Companions.) The Globe and Mail supported a similar scheme in the late 1990s. The struggle for righteous liberation from this tyrannical monarchy would give way to a new oligarchy wherein only elected MPs, MPPs, MLA, MNAs, and MHAs would possess the right to vote for Canada’s new head of state, and wherein only recipients of the Order of Canada would be eligible for election. This Elitist’s Republic of Canada would probably not resonate even within the republican movement!
Canada’s ambassador to Germany wants Canada to become like Germany: he probably derived this method of selection from Germany’s parliamentary republic. The German president serves a term of five years, once renewable, and he is elected by a “Federal Convention” consisting of the elected members of the lower house of the federal parliament and “an equal number of members elected by” the parliaments of the 16 states. Currently, the Bundestag (lower house of the federal parliament) consists of 631 elected MPs, which means that the next President of Germany would be elected by around 1260 persons. Heinbecker probably wants to preserve or increase the Governor General’s independence by insulating him from the popular control and depriving him of a popular mandate. (In contrast, Ireland and Israel provide a different model of parliamentary republic in which the president serves as head of state but is directly elected by voters).
On another note, what would become of the provincial Lieutenant Governors? Republicans tend to fixate on the Governor General and the head-of-state function at the federal level and to ignore the comparable function at the provincial level. Heinbecker does not indicate whether the Governor General would continue to appoint the Lieutenant Governors on the Prime Minister’s advice or whether they would be subject to a new method of appointment.
Conclusion: The Paradoxical Canadian Crown
Governments in Canada Have Chosen to Marginalize the Queen
Despite his argument’s logical inconsistencies, Heinbecker is right that the Queen of Canada’s role has been reduced in some ways. But the Queen of Canada has not been marginalized by the turning wheel of history or through the inevitable republican teleology; instead, successive Canadian prime ministers and ministries have chosen to marginalize the Queen in order to “Canadianize” the Crown and emphasize the Governor General.
Heinbecker argues that Canada needs a government willing to lay the groundwork for a republic. This pre-republican government would “treat the Governor General as the de facto Head of State in all ways that the constitution does not actually prohibit” and ensure that the Governor General “performs the ceremonial roles of Head of State,” including the exclusive right to represent Canada abroad and to “promote non-partisan Canadian interests” abroad. In fact, the Governor General already represents Canada both at home and abroad, and the Queen of Canada exercises these functions infrequently.
In practice and in law, most of what Heinbecker proposes already exists. By 2014, the Governor General of Canada already exercises virtually all the legal-constitutional functions of the Queen of Canada within and without Canada. The Queen of Canada now rarely represents Canada abroad because the Government of Canada rarely asks her to do so. Chris McCreery has shown how the Government of Canada gradually delegated most of the roles of the Queen of Canada to the Governor General of Canada from 1947 to 2005. Through the Letters Patent Constituting the Office of the Governor General, 1947, the King of Canada delegated (not “transferred”) the “exercise [of] all powers and authorities lawfully belonging to Us in respect of Canada.” The Queen of Canada remains the legal-constitutional source of all these powers and authorities; if the Office of the Queen ceased to exist, then all the Governor General’s powers and authorities would vanish with it. In practice, the Government of Canada did not ask George VI, and subsequently, Elizabeth II, to delegate the exercise of all the Crown’s powers and authorities until well after 1947. For instance, the Queen of Canada granted all letters of credence to Canadian diplomats until 1975; from 1975 to 2005, the Governor General did so explicitly on behalf of and in the name of the Queen. And from 2005 onward, the Governor General now issues them without direct reference to the Queen of Canada, even though she still personifies this constitutional authority.
A more subtle example includes the Queen of Canada’s role as part of the Crown-in-Parliament (Queen, Senate, and Commons). The Queen of Canada read the Speech from the Throne in the Senate in 1957; Prime Minister Trudeau invited her to do so again in 1977 as part of her Silver Jubilee. But in 2002 when Prime Minister Chretien almost certainly could have invited the Queen of Canada to read the Speech from the Throne as part of her Golden Jubilee Royal Tour, from 4 October to 15 October 2002, he instead allowed Governor General Clarkson to read it one week before on 30 September 2002.
The Queen’s website also unfortunately lends some credibility to Heinbecker’s argument that Elizabeth II is perceived as exclusively British in a cultural sense. Elizabeth II dedicated the Canadian war memorial at Vimy as Queen of Canada, and not as Queen of the United Kingdom, in 2007, but the text of the speech appears under the “Official Website of the British Monarchy.” The website ought to reflect the personal union of the 16 Crowns of the Commonwealth Realms more effectively in this respect. The website does contain sub-sections for each Realm, but the banner “The Official Website of the British Monarchy” still looms large over the sub-heading “Queen and Canada,” which really ought to say “Queen of Canada.” The Canadian section includes sub-sections on “The Queen’s Role in Canada” (which would more accurately be “the Role of the Queen of Canada”), Royal Tours, a photo gallery, and “Symbols and Ceremonies.” The Queen of Canada’s website also ought to include a sub-section dealing with speeches that she has delivered in that capacity so that the text of Her Majesty’s re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial appears there. The Government of Canada now maintains a helpful website called “The Canadian Crown”; the Government could improve upon it by including the Queen of Canada’s speeches therein.
While the Crown of Canada enjoys a secure legal-constitutional entrenchment under section 41(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982, the Crown of Canada as a distinct Canadian legal person has been delegitimated, more or less successfully, in the media and popular culture through a process well-known to scholars of nationalism and nationalist political discourse:”othering.” The Queen has become the foreign “other” so that the Crown of Canada can transform itself from the integral source of legal-constitutional authority to a foreign nuisance or distraction — and so that the good Canadian now assumes the duty to destroy this Other. Heinbecker argues that the government should “take down portraits of the royal family,” by which Heinbecker presumably means that the Government should take down all the portraits of the Queen of Canada from Canadian embassies as well as the portrait of the Queen from the Sovereign’s Wall in the Lester B. Pearson Building, because our embassies don’t display portraits of the whole Royal Family. Removing the Queen of Canada’s portraits from Canadian embassies and consulates would not alter the Queen of Canada’s legal-constitutional position as the sovereign (or head of state, if you prefer); however, this tactic of republicanism-by-stealth – the incremental and deliberate removing the outward symbols of the Crown that reflect Canada’s constitutional monarchy – is an effective method of delegitimating the Crown in the cultural sense. Elizabeth II is reputed to have said, “I have to be seen to be believed.” Each step in republicanism-by-stealth denies the Crown its rightful place in public view and ensures that Canadians no longer think of Canada as the constitutional monarchy that it is. A concerted strategy of republicanism-by-stealth and removing the Crown from everyday public view would make it easier for Canadians to imagine Canada as a republic so that they could perhaps one day will the First Federal Republic of Canada into existence.
As Chris Champion showed in The Strange Demise of British Canada, these anti-monarchist neo-nationalists mean to create Canada anew. Canadian media often refer to the “British monarchy,” which implies that the one and indivisible Imperial Crown still exists and that therefore the Crown is inherently a foreign “other.” The phrase “cutting ties to the monarchy” often appears, and republicans like Duff Conacher of Your Canada, Your Constitution and Paul Heinbecker emphasize it; this wording implies that the Crown is nothing more than a colonial vestige that must, according to the republican teleology, inevitably consign itself the dustbin of history after collapsing under the weight of its legal fiction. While the current Constitution of Canada entrenches the Crown under section 41(a) in the legal-constitutional sense, the Crown of Canada will not necessarily sustain itself automatically in this cultural sense. Even maintaining the status quo requires active effort. In this case, those who favour constitutional monarchy must point out that the Crown of Canada forms an integral part of Canada’s legal-constitutional framework, and that we are merely drawing attention to and reinforcing the current fact and not “retrogressing” backward to some “colonial” subservience. It is the republicans who are the radicals, and the onus rests with them on why we should abolish the Crown of Canada.
- Monarchism vs. Republicanism
- “Your Canada, Your Constitution”
- The Maple Crown and the Commonwealth Realms
 Constitution.ca states that it will focus on, among other things, questions relating to “the role and method of selection of Canada’s Head of State” – which at first instance sounds awfully like a republican argument couched in deliberately ambiguous language. Upon further analysis, the website confirmed my suspicion: under “Publisher Info,” Constitution.ca indicates that it “is published by Your Canada, Your Constitution” (YCYC). In Newspeak, Constitution.ca describes YCYC as “a research and education foundation dedicated to developing knowledge of Canada’s constitution.” In plain English, YCYC advocates that Canada become a republic, and therefore destroy the Crown by replacing its executive, legislative, and judicial authority with a new fully codified constitution. (I have documented YCYC’s mendacity and push-polling in previous entries).
 Sean M. Maloney, Canada and UN Peacekeeping: Cold War By Other Means, 1945-1970. (St. Catherines, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing Limited, 2002), 67.
 Ibid., 73.
 Richard Berthelsen, correspondence with author, 24 July 2014.
 Anne Twomey, “Responsible Government and Divisibility of the Crown,” Public Law no. 4 (2008): 742-767.
 Chris McCreery, “Myth and Misunderstanding: The Origins and Meaning of the Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General, 1947,” chapter 3 in The Evolving Canadian Crown, edited by Jennifer Smith and D. Michael Jackson, 31-56 (Kingston-Montreal: Queen’s-McGill University Press, 2012).
 Ibid., 48-51.