Members of the Monarchist League of Canada are speaking out against Mayor Lisa Helps and her decision to not pledge allegiance to the Queen on inauguration day.
“The crown is the symbol in our country of law and order, of our constitution, of our rights and freedoms, and I think it’s expected that our mayor would pledge allegiance to that system,” said Bruce Hallsor, co-chair of the Victoria branch of the Monarchist League of Canada.
Hallsor said if Helps had an issue with pledging an allegiance to the Queen, she should have brought it up as a discussion beforehand.
“We just had an election. It could have been raised as an issue, and people could have had an informed vote,” said Hallsor. “If people are going to disrespect our traditions and our heritage, they should have been upfront about it during the election.”
Although he lives in Saanich, Hallsor said he knows many Monarchist League members live in Victoria and voted for Helps. He said if they had known what was going to happen on inauguration day, it would have absolutely affected their votes.”
“Nobody has a problem with a debate and with people having different opinions, but for somebody as their first act right after an election disrespect our constitutional form of government without any articulated reason that makes sense, having not told voters that this is what they were going to do, is disappointing.”
When elected as a councillor in 2011, Helps pledged allegiance to the Queen. She said back then she hadn’t given it much thought.
“To be honest, as councillors, we were just given these things and [told] ‘do this’ basically,” said Helps.
It wasn’t until the end of the day last Wednesday, the day before the inauguration meeting, that Helps brought up the idea to the councillors of leaving out the oath of allegiance.
However, councillors Chris Coleman, Pamela Madoff, Margaret Lucas, Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Geoff Young said they wanted to take the pledge.
Despite the negative feedback, Helps said it was not her intention to offend or protest the monarchy.
“It’s not about being anti-monarchist or republican . . . but it’s just I think as a local elected official, we’re required to affirm an oath of office to serve our community, and I think that’s what they ceremony should be about,” said Helps. “Other councillors made other decisions and I welcome that.”
Coun. Ben Isitt was the only councillor to also not pledge allegiance to the Queen when he was elected in 2011.
“I believe in democracy, and I can’t reconcile being accountable to the people who elected me and having these other loyalties to a hereditary bloodline,” said Isitt. “What if there was a disconnect between what the public told us and what the Queen or her representatives told us? Where would we fall? For me, since I’ve only taken one oath, it’s an easy decision. My oath is to the people.”
There’s no requirement for B.C.’s municipal councillors to swear allegiance to the Queen, and several Capital Region municipalities don’t at all, including Saanich, Esquimalt and Oak Bay.
For those who believe the monarchy is archaic in today’s society, Hallsor said they are not understanding Canada.
“It’s a fundamental part of who we are,” said Hallsor. “We don’t have to pledge allegiance to the head of a political party that we might not agree with, we can pledge allegiance to somebody that’s truly neutral and has been with us for generations.”