Re: Monarchists blast Helps (News, Dec. 10)
Mayor Lisa Helps’ actions make it difficult to explain to students why our government system works the way it does, when I have to say to them that an elected official does not understand why it is important to swear allegiance to our Head of State.
Having spent the bulk of the school year tracing the development of democracy from the Magna Carta through the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution to the English parliamentary system being established in Canada, I find it distressing that Mayor Helps could refer to the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen as being an outmoded or unnecessary tradition because we now have brew pubs and a tech sector in Victoria rather than high tea, as Mayor Helps stated on the CBC.
As the figurehead in our Parliamentary democracy the Queen of Canada has a very important role. The Governor General of Canada exercises H.M Queen Elizabeth II’s powers and responsibilities in Canada: One of the Governor General’s most important responsibilities is to ensure that Canada always has a prime minister and a government in place that has the confidence of Parliament.
In addition, the Governor General holds certain reserve powers, which are exercised at his or her own discretion.
The Governor General also presides over the swearing-in of the prime minister, the chief justice of Canada and cabinet ministers. It is the Governor General who summons, prorogues and dissolves Parliament, who delivers the Speech from the Throne, and who gives Royal Assent to acts of Parliament.
The Governor General signs official documents and regularly meets with the prime minister.
By not swearing the Oath of Allegiance to the Queen, Mayor Helps has negated a most important, and one of the least understood, checks and balances in our constitutional monarchy.
When a government has lost the confidence of the people, it is the Governor General’s responsibility to call an election to seek the will of the people.
By not swearing allegiance to the Queen, Mayor Helps indicates she thinks this facet of our parliamentary democracy is just a tradition, rather than a safeguard against corruption, mismanagement and arbitrary rule by elected officials.
Further, Mayor Helps combined this omission with the new tradition of recognizing First Nations territory on which Victoria rests.
By not swearing allegiance to the Queen, I assume Mayor Helps also intends to deny the importance of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, ceding all land west of the Appalachians to First Nations, and which most First Nations land claims reference. This seems paradoxical to me.
I suggest Mayor Helps’ choice to neglect allegiance to the Queen was ill advised.
Sara Plumpton, Victoria