Transcript: Time for Canada to Scrap the Monarchy? | Oct 29, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Time for Canada to scrap the monarchy? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says QUEEN ELIZABETH IS THE LONGEST REIGNING BRITISH MONARCH IN HISTORY. BUT THERE ARE SOME HERE IN CANADA WHO WOULD LIKE TO SEE HER DAYS NUMBERED AS OUR HEAD OF STATE. AND NOT JUST HERS, BUT FOR HER HEIRS AND ANY OTHER VESTIGES OF THE MONARCHY AS WELL. IT'S A TOPIC THAT CROPS UP NOW AND THEN, BUT AFTER ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE COMMONWEALTH - BARBADOS - RECENTLY DECIDED TO DITCH THE MONARCHY, IT'S COME UP AGAIN HERE. WITH US FOR THE PROS AND CONS OF THAT IDEA, ALL OF THEM IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL, WE WELCOME: FROM THE ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT DOWNTOWN: LAWYER DELIA OPEKOKEW, WHO AMONG HER MANY ACCOMPLISHMENTS, WAS THE FIRST INDIGENOUS WOMAN TO BE CALLED TO THE ONTARIO BAR...

Delia is in her fifties, with chin-length gray hair and bangs. She's wearing glasses, a blue blazer, white shirt and chain necklace.

Steve continues IN WEST KING WEST: HANS BATHIJA, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE BRITISH CANADIAN CHAMBER OF TRADE AND COMMERCE...

Hans is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short dark hair. He's wearing a red tartan vest over a white shirt, and a black tie.

Steve continues IN BLOOR WEST VILLAGE: PETER DONOLO, FORMERLY DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR PRIME MINISTER JEAN CHRETIEN...

Peter is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short white hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt and spotted red tie.

Steve continues IN CORSO ITALIA: ASHOK CHARLES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ADVOCACY GROUP, REPUBLIC NOW...

Ashok is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short black hair. He's wearing a spotted white shirt.

Steve continues AND IN EAST YORK: FORMER SUN MEDIA COLUMNIST CHRISTINA BLIZZARD, WHO COVERED SEVERAL ROYAL TOURS IN HER LONG CAREER. AND WHEN SHE SPEAKS, YOU WILL GET A HINT OF AN ACCENT THAT SUGGESTS THAT SHE MAY JUST BE FROM ACROSS THE POND...

Christina is in her fifties, with short blond hair. She's wearing a blue sweater.

Steve continues GREAT TO HAVE ALL FIVE OF YOU WITH US TONIGHT ON TVO. LET'S HAVE SHELDON OSMOND BRING UP THIS FACT FILE TO SET UP THE TOPIC FOR THE DISCUSSION TO COME.


A slate appears on screen, with the title "Long may she reign? Queen Elizabeth the Second."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
QUEEN ELIZABETH II IS CURRENT HEAD OF STATE IN 16 countries SUCH AS JAMAICA AND PAPUA NEW GUINEA. THE LAST COMPANY TO REMOVE HER AS HEAD OF STATE WAS MAURITIUS. AT AGE 94, THE QUEEN HAS BEEN ON THE THRONE, IMAGINE THIS, FOR 12 CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS, 12 AMERICAN PRESIDENTS, AND SEVEN POPES, AND SHE HAS BEEN CANADA'S HEAD OF STATE FOR NEARLY HALF OF THIS COUNTRY'S EXISTENCE. LET'S GET TO THIS. CHRISTINA, SINCE YOU'VE GOT THE ACCENT, I GUESS WE'LL START WITH YOU. WHAT DOES THE MONARCHY, IN YOUR VIEW, PROVIDE CANADIANS?

The caption changes to "Christina Blizzard. Former Toronto Sun Columnist."

Christina says WELL, I THINK A INSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY WITH A PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY IS A VERY STABLE FORM OF GOVERNMENT. THE CROWN, AS REPRESENTING THE STATE, AS EMBODIED BY THE QUEEN, IS A VERY, I BELIEVE, HAS PROVIDED THIS COUNTRY WITH A VERY STABLE, AS I SAID, OVERARCHING SENSE OF GOVERNMENT THAT HAS PROVIDED CONTINUITY. THE CROWN HAS A HISTORY OF PROTECTING MINORITIES IN THIS COUNTRY. AND I THINK THAT AS THE QUEEN EMBODIES THE STATE, IF YOU LOOK AT A REPUBLIC, FOR EXAMPLE, THE PRESIDENT IS THE PERSONIFICATION OF THE STATE, IN A GOVERNMENT, IN A REPUBLIC, AND IF THE PRESIDENT IS DYSFUNCTIONAL, THEN THE GOVERNMENT IS DYSFUNCTIONAL, BECAUSE IT IS SUCH A PERSONAL THING. YOU KNOW, WE ONLY HAVE TO LOOK TO THAT GREAT REPUBLIC TO OUR SOUTH TO SEE THAT, YOU KNOW, WHEN THE PRESIDENT IS DYSFUNCTIONAL, YOU DO HAVE PROBLEMS ARISING WHERE YOU CAN'T EVEN GUARANTEE THE PEACEFUL TRANSFERENCE OF POWER, AS WE'RE NOW SEEING DURING THIS ELECTION.

Steve says OKAY. PETER DONOLO, LET ME ASK YOU THE SAME QUESTION: WHAT, IN YOUR VIEW, DOES THE MONARCHY PROVIDE TO CANADA?

The caption changes to "Peter Donolo. Former Director of Communications for Prime Minister Chretien."
Then, it changes again to "Valued and appreciated?"

Peter says I THINK THE MONARCHY IS AN ANACHRONISM. THERE WAS A CASE FOR IT IN OUR EARLY YEARS OF THE COUNTRY, 150 YEARS AGO. MY BASIC PROBLEMS WITH THE MONARCHY ARE TWOFOLD: I DON'T BELIEVE THAT HIGH PUBLIC OFFICE, ANY PUBLIC OFFICE BUT PARTICULARLY HEAD OF STATE, HIGH PUBLIC OFFICE, SHOULD BE HEREDITARY, PASSED FROM ONE GENERATION TO ANOTHER WITHIN A SINGLE FAMILY. I THINK THAT'S FUNDAMENTALLY UNDEMOCRATIC AND AT ODDS WITH A FUNDAMENTAL DEMOCRACY. TO ADD INSULT TO INJURY, THEY ARE FOREIGNERS WHO ARE OUR HEADS OF STATE. I THINK QUEEN ELIZABETH IS A FIGURE OF TREMENDOUS... SHE IS A VERY IMPRESSIVE PERSON. SHE HAS KEPT THIS INSTITUTION GOING MUCH LONGER THAN IT SHOULD HAVE. I THINK WE SHOULD ADAPT A PRACTICE FROM THE NHL AND OTHER MAJOR LEAGUES, AND WHEN SHE GOES, WE SHOULD RETIRE HER JERSEY.

Steve says THAT'S A NICE ANALOGY. LET ME ASK THE FOLLOW-UP QUESTION, WHICH IS, YOUR FORMER BOSS, JEAN CHRETIEN, HAD A LOVELY FRIENDSHIP, RELATIONSHIP WITH THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND. HOW DOES HE FEEL ABOUT YOUR TAKING THIS POSITION?

Peter says HE STILL DOES. HE'S ONLY THE SIXTH MEMBER... ONLY THE SIXTH CANADIAN EVER TO BE ON THE ORDER OF MERIT, WHICH IS THE ONLY ORDER THAT THE QUEEN PERSONALLY CHOOSES. HE'S ONLY THE THIRD CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER TO BE THERE. HE'S KNOWN HER FOR ABOUT 60 YEARS, OR CERTAINLY 50 YEARS. SO HE'S A MONARCHIST. HE AND I DISAGREE. HE WOULD ALSO FEEL THAT THIS IS NOT A TOP OF MIND ISSUE FOR MOST CANADIANS, AND IN THAT HE'S RIGHT. BUT LISTEN, THAT'S ALWAYS THE CASE WITH ISSUES LIKE THIS. WE'RE KIND OF LIKE... WE DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH IT BECAUSE IT'S TOO MUCH TROUBLE. WE'RE LIKE THE MILLENNIAL KID LIVING IN THE PARENTS' BASEMENT BECAUSE IT'S EASIER THAN MOVING OUT. WE WERE VERY SLOW IN ADOPTING A LOT OF THE USUAL VESTIGES OF INDEPENDENCE. LISTEN, IT TOOK ALMOST 100 YEARS AS A COUNTRY BEFORE WE ADOPTED OUR OWN FLAG. BUT SLOWLY BUT SURELY WE'VE DONE THESE THINGS. THE MONARCHY IS THE LAST ITEM OF UNFINISHED BUSINESS IN THIS REGARD AND WE SHOULD CHECK IT OFF THE LIST.

Steve says DELIA, WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON WHAT THE MONARCHY PROVIDES TO CANADA?

The caption changes to "Delia Opekokew. Indigenous Law Lawyer."

Delia says MY VIEW ON WHAT THE MONARCHY PROVIDES TO CANADA IS WITH RESPECT TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, IN THAT THE ORIGINAL TREATIES WERE SIGNED WITH THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CROWN IN EARLY YEARS IN THE RIGHT OF GREAT BRITAIN AND LATER ON IN RIGHT OF CANADA, AND IN ONTARIO IN RIGHT OF BOTH CANADA AND ONTARIO. AND ARE FOR THOSE REASONS SYMBOLICALLY IT'S VERY IMPORTANT FOR MANY INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THE ELDERS, TO MAINTAIN THAT RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CROWN. HOWEVER, MY PERSPECTIVE IS THAT THE DUTIES THAT ENSUED FROM THE TREATIES HAVE BEEN TAKEN OVER BY THE CROWN IN RIGHT OF CANADA AND THE CROWN IN RIGHT OF THE DIFFERENT PROVINCES. AND SO IF THERE WAS A REPUBLIC, THE DUTIES REQUIRED TO ENSURE THAT THIS COUNTRY BETWEEN THE ORIGINAL GREAT BRITAIN PRECONFEDERATION WOULD CONTINUE IN ANY CASE BECAUSE THE CODE SAID MANY TIMES THAT THE DUTIES ARE EMBEDDED IN THE CROWN IN RIGHT OF CANADA AND IN THE CROWN IN RIGHT OF THE PROVINCES. AND SO THAT WOULD REMAIN. BUT I CERTAINLY KNOW HOW IMPORTANT THE CROWN IS FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE. I'M WEARING MY TREATY MEDAL BECAUSE AT A TIME WHEN THE TREATIES WERE SIGNED, THIS IS WHAT THE COMMISSIONERS STILL REPRESENTING THE CROWN WOULD GIVE TO THE INDIAN CHIEFS AND THIS IS A COMMEMORATION MEDAL OF THE TREATY NO. 10, WHICH IS MY TREATY IN SASKATCHEWAN AND MANITOBA. AND I REMEMBER WHEN IT WAS GIVEN OUT TO US IN 2017, IT WAS GIVEN OUT BY THE TREATY COMMISSIONER OF SASKATCHEWAN WHO REPRESENTS BOTH CANADA AND THE PROVINCE IN THAT CAPACITY AS THE CROWNS. IT WAS A VERY RESPECTFUL COMMEMORATION AND I RECALL, ESPECIALLY THE ELDERS, LINING UP TO RECEIVE IT AND BEING SO PROUD THAT THEY HAVE THE COMMEMORATION MEDALS FROM THE ORIGINAL TREATY THAT WAS SIGNED.

The caption changes to "Indigenous perspectives."

Steve says DELIA, JUST LET MOO HE JUMP IN FOR A... ME JUMP IN FOR A HIGHER, HOLD IT UP BY YOUR FACE SO WE CAN SEE IT? IT SEEMS TO ME YOU'RE RATHER PROUD OF HAVING BEEN A RECIPIENT OF THAT MEDAL AND I WONDER WHETHER... IS YOUR POSITION CONSISTENT WITH THE HONOUR THAT GOES WITH THAT MEDAL?

Delia holds up a medal and says MAYBE SLIGHTLY NOT, BUT I CERTAINLY RESPECT THE ELDERS AND I TRY TO CARRY FORTH THEIR POSITION. BUT MY POSITION IS THAT THE RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES SIGNED UNDER THE TREATY IRRESPECTIVE CARRY ON.

Steve says I UNDERSTAND. ASHOK, LET ME PUT THIS TO YOU. I THINK THAT EVERYBODY THAT COMES TO THIS COUNTRY AS AN IMMIGRANT HAS TO SWEAR AN ALLEGIANCE TO THE QUEEN, AND I GATHER YOU DID. 27 YEARS LATER YOU OFFICIALLY RECANTED THAT OATH OF ALLEGIANCE AND YOU MAY HAVE BEEN THE FIRST CANADIAN EVER TO HAVE DONE SO. SO TELL US WHY YOU DID.

The caption changes to "Ashok Charles. Republic Now."
Then, it changes again to "Colonial roots."

Ashok says TWO REASONS, I WOULD SAY. THE FIRST IS THAT I SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE ANY ALLEGIANCE OR FAITHFULNESS TO THE MEMBERS OF THAT, THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY. I DON'T. AND I WANTED MY GOVERNMENT TO KNOW IT. SECONDLY, I WANT TO DRAW ATTENTION TO HOW POORLY THIS CITIZENSHIP OATH SERVES US. I THINK WE'VE GOT THE WHOLE THING BACKWARDS. WE SHOULDN'T BE HAVING CANADIANS SWEAR FEAILITY TO THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY, WE SHOULD BE HAVING OUR HEAD OF STATE PLEDGE TO UPHOLD OUR CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND SERVE US AS CITIZENS OF CANADA. I THINK WE HAVE THAT COMPLETELY BACKWARDS. AND SECONDLY, I WANT TO DRAW ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT THIS CITIZENSHIP OATH IS OUR ONLY OPPORTUNITY TO ELICIT A FORMAL PLEDGE FROM NEW MEMBERS OF OUR SOCIETY, AND WE SQUANDER THAT OPPORTUNITY, INSISTING THAT THEY PLEDGE FEILTY TO THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY. WE COULD BE ASKING, AS AUSTRALIA NOW DOES, AUSTRALIA HAD AN OATH OF CITIZENSHIP SIMILAR TO OURS AND NOW THEY HAVE A MUCH, MUCH BETTER ONE, WHICH REQUIRES A FORMAL COMMITMENT TO DEMOCRACY, TO EGALITARIANISM AND SO ON. AND THAT'S WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. HANS, YOU KNOW THE SETUP THAT'S COMING HERE. YOU'RE THE GUY WHO CAME IN ONTARIO BACK WHEN BILL DAVIS WAS PREMIER, YOU WERE TELLING ME ABOUT HOW WELCOMED YOU FELT IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO WHEN YOU FIRST CAME HERE. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON WHETHER OR NOT SWEARING THAT OATH OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE ROYALTY IS IMPORTANT?

The caption changes to "Hans Bathija. British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce."
Then, it changes again to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Hans says WELL, I MEAN, TO BE TRANSPARENT, I CAME FROM THE U.K., I WAS BORN IN LONDON, ENGLAND, AND CAME OVER HERE WITH MY FAMILY BECOME IN 1975. MY FATHER IS A REFUGEE FROM THE DIVISION OF INDIA, SO HE MOVED FROM THE... AND WE CAME HERE IN '75 BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, PIERRE TRUDEAU ISSUED A CALL TO COME TO CANADA, SO, YOU KNOW, TRUDEAU AND DAVIS WORKING TOGETHER TO MAKE ONTARIO A WONDERFUL PLACE TO RESIDE IN, WAS AMAZING. I BECAME... MY FAMILY BECAME CANADIAN CITIZENS IN 1985. BY THAT TIME, CERTAINLY THE LAST VESTIGES OF BRITISH CITIZENSHIP, IN TERMS OF RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES IN ONTARIO, THE VOTING AND SO FORTH, HAD COME TO AN END. WE PROBABLY BECAME CANADIAN CITIZENS AND CERTAINLY I AVAILED MYSELF OF ALL OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN THIS GREAT COUNTRY OF CANADA TO PLAY A PART IN THE BODY POLITIC AND IN CIVIL SOCIETY. GIVEN MY FATHER IS FROM INDIA, WE CERTAINLY HAVE A LOT MORE COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CROWN THAN SAY CANADA DOES. SO IN THAT SENSE, I'M SOMEWHAT MORE NEUTRAL BECAUSE OF THAT. BUT THAT BEING SAID, FROM A BUSINESS AND TRADE PERSPECTIVE, THE CROWN DOES AFFORD STABILITY IN TERMS OF TRADE AND COMMERCE, IT DOES ALLOW US TO CONNECTION TO OTHER COMMONWEALTH REALMS AS WELL AS THE COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS. SO MY TAKE IS IT PROVIDES STABILITY THAT CANADA LIVES IN THIS CRAZY WORLD WE LIVE IN. WE LOOK SOUTH OF THE BORDER, LOOK AT WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE REPUBLIC DOWN THERE. WE HAVE CHINA, WHICH IS NOT DEMOCRATIC, NOR A MONARCHY OR A REPUBLIC... IT IS A REPUBLIC IN A SENSE. BUT THEY HAVE OUR OWN SYSTEM. I THINK OUR SYSTEM HAS WORKED WELL FOR THE CROWN AND OTHER TERRITORIES. AND DELIA MAKES A GOOD POINT, THE HEREDITARY CHIEFTAINS... AND THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT HAS DONE SOMEWHAT OF A MEANINGFUL JOB MANAGING THOSE TREATIES. I'M NOT GOING TO OPINE ON THAT ONE. I DON'T HAVE THE BACKGROUND TO OPINE. BUT I WOULD SAY ABILITIES TO MANAGE THOSE TREATIES. WE ARE GETTING BETTER, NO DOUBT. BUT EACH PROVINCE, PROVINCIAL CAPITALS AND OTTAWA HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO MANAGE THOSE TREATIES ON BEHALF OF THE CROWN AND I THINK WE ARE CERTAINLY PROGRESSING. I MEAN, PETER SAYS WE'RE EVOLVING. THAT IS TRUE. I WILL MAKE A PLUG AND SAY 1988, WHEN THE CANADIAN HERALDIC SOCIETY WAS FORMED, THAT REALLY WAS THE LAST VESTIGES OF THE U.K. THAT WE HAD. BECAUSE NOW WE CAN ISSUE OUR OWN HONOURS AND AWARDS. SO WE ARE A FULLY SOVEREIGN, FUNCTIONING COUNTRY. THE PROVINCES AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DO WORK TOGETHER IN TERMS OF OUR CONFEDERATION, PROVIDING THE STABILITY FOR TRADE AND FOR COMMERCE, AND FOR CITIZENS TO EVOLVE AS THEY SEE FIT. IF CANADA DECIDES TO GO A REPUBLIC ROUTE, IT WOULD NEED THE MAJORITY OF ALL THE PROVINCES...

Steve says HOLD OFF ON THAT, HANS. WE'RE GOING TO GET TO COMPLICATED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDING FORMULAS LATER IN OUR DISCUSSION. I WANT TO GET PETER DONOLO BACK IN HERE BECAUSE RECOLLECTION IS THAT BACK IN THE DAY WHEN YOU WERE WORKING FOR JEAN CHRETIEN, YOU QUOTE, UNQUOTE, ACCIDENTALLY PUT ON SOME AGENDA THE NOTION OF GETTING RID OF THE MONARCHY. WHAT HAPPENED THERE? TELL THAT STORY, IF YOU WOULD?

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Peter says AS YOU KNOW, I WORK WITH CHRIS AND [indiscernible] THROUGHOUT THE YEAR IN TERMS OF MEDIA RELATIONS AND I LET SLIP ONE OF MY PREFERENCES. I'VE BEEN A REPUBLICAN OR ANTIMONARCHY, PUT IT THAT WAY, ROYAL BANKS ARE DIFFERENT MATTERS, SINCE... REPUBLICANS, ARE DIFFERENT MATTERS, SINCE I WAS A KID, BASICALLY. I THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA TO PUT IN THE THRONE SPEECH. AND OF COURSE THIS ENDED UP ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE PAPER. MR. CHRETIEN DIDN'T SWEAT IT FOR A MOMENT AND LAUGHED IT OFF. I THOUGHT MY NECK WAS GOING TO BE ON THE LINE BUT IT WASN'T. THAT WAS JUST ONE OF THE FUN EPISODES I HAD WORKING FOR A GUY WHO IS JUST A LOT OF FUN, THE BEST BOSS I EVER HAD. IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE FACT THAT THE MONARCHY, AS I SAY, IS AN ANACHRONISM. ONE MORE PROBLEM WITH THE MONARCHY IS THAT NOT ONLY FOREIGN, NOT ONLY HEREDITARY, BUT OUR HEAD OF STATE HAS TO BE FROM ONE SINGLE RELIGION, THE ANGLICAN CHURCH. THE BRITISH MONARCH IS ACTUALLY THE HEAD AND PROTECTOR OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. AGAIN, IN A COUNTRY AS DIVERSE AS CANADA, THAT'S ANOTHER STANDING INSULT. SO, NO, I THINK IT'S TIME FOR THE MONARCHY TO GO. HOW WE DO IT IS OF COURSE A FRAUGHT MATTER. I JUST WANT TO POINT OUT JUST ONE OTHER POINT SINCE YOU'VE GIVEN ME THE MIKE, STEVE, AND I LIKE CHRIS A LOT, BUT I THINK SHE DOES WHAT A LOT OF MONARCHYISTS DO. IF WE GET RID OF IT, WE HAVE TO HAVE A U.S. PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM. THAT'S NOT THE CASE AT ALL. LOOK, ITALY, GERMANY, HAVE HEADS OF STATE CHOSEN BY THEIR LEGISLATURES, NOT AT ALL LIKE THE AMERICAN SYSTEM, AND THEIR HEAD OF STATE DOES NOT HAVE THE POWERS OF THE U.S. PRESIDENT. SO I THINK THAT'S A FALSE DICHOTOMY. I REJECT IT. I THINK IT'S A RHETORICAL THING BUT I REALLY THINK IT'S A BIT UNFAIR.

Steve says CHRISTINA, TAKE HIM ON.

Christina says FIRST OF ALL, I THINK TO OPEN UP THIS CAN OF WORMS WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT. IT WOULD BE VERY DIVISIVE. ANY TIME I'VE COVERED WORLD TOURS, YOU UNDERSTAND THE DEPTH OF FEELING. CANADA IS THE LAND OF THE EMPIRE LOYALISTS. THIS IS WHERE PEOPLE CAME AFTER THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, AND THERE ARE VERY STRONG FEELINGS THROUGH GREAT SWATHS OF ONTARIO. YOU ONLY HAVE TO SEE... JUST WATCH, PEOPLE COME OUT AND STAND 10 DEEP WAITING TO SEE THE QUEEN OR WHATEVER ROYAL IS THERE. AND WHEN YOU INTERVIEW THEM, PEOPLE HAVE THIS VERY DEEP FEELING THAT THE CROWN IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT DEFINES US WITHIN THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTEXT. THEY UNDERSTAND THAT CANADA, WHILE WE ARE A VERY LARGE COUNTRY, WE'RE A VERY SMALL POPULATION, AND THIS IS THE ONE THING THAT SETS... ONE OF THE MANY THINGS THAT SETS US APART FROM THE UNITED STATES, AND THEY WANT TO MAINTAIN THAT VERY MUCH SO. AND THE CROWN HAS, AS WE'VE SEEN, HAS CHANGED AND EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS AND IT RENEWS ITSELF QUITE REGULARLY, AND I THINK TO OPEN UP THIS DEBATE IS SOMETHING THAT WE DON'T WANT TO DO, ESPECIALLY NOT... I THINK IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT WITH FIRST NATIONS. ANY TIME YOU'RE ON A WORLD TOUR, AT EVERY STOP THERE WILL BE A FIRST NATIONS LEADER, A CHIEF, AND THEY WILL COME OUT AND THEY WILL BRING WITH THEM A FRAMED COPY OF THEIR TREATY AND THEY WILL... IT'S NOT... IT'S NOT TO SAY, "OH, LOOK WHAT WE FOUND IN OUR ARCHIVES. ISN'T THIS INTERESTING?" WHAT THEY ARE DOING IS THEY ARE TAKING IT TO WHICHEVER ROYAL IS THERE AND THEY ARE SAYING, "HERE, THIS IS THE TREATY. IT WAS SIGNED BY YOUR GRANDFATHER, YOUR GREAT-GRANDFATHER, WHICHEVER, WHOEVER, AND THEY'RE HOLDING THAT... THAT ROYAL, THE MODERN ROYAL, TO ACCOUNT FOR THAT TREATY. THEY'RE SAYING, THIS IS OUR TREATY. WE WANT YOU TO UPHOLD THIS. REMEMBER THAT YOUR FOREBEARS SIGNED THIS. SO I THINK THIS WOULD BE OPENING UP AN UNNECESSARY CAN OF WORMS THAT WE REALLY DON'T NEED TO DO BECAUSE THE CROWN HAS SERVED US REMARKABLY WELL.

Steve says DELIA, DOES SHE MAKE A GOOD POINT?

Delia says FOR MANY OF THE ELDERS, YES, SHE MAKES A VERY GOOD POINT. BUT THE REALITY WAS THAT THE TREATIES WERE BROKEN IN SPITE OF THE CROWN, SO OFTEN, ESPECIALLY IN THE TIMES AFTER 1812 WHEN OUR STRENGTHS AS PARTNERS AND ALLIES, WE STARTED TO WEAKEN BECAUSE OF THE TAKE-OVER OF THE SETTLER GOVERNMENTS. BUT THE VESTIGES OF SOME OF THE CROWN THAT WERE IN CANADA DID NOT UPHOLD THEIR TREATIES. THE ONLY TIME THEY HAVE BEEN UPHELD IS VERY RECENTLY... IN FACT, THE ONLY TIME THAT TREATIES WERE TAKEN TO COURT BECAUSE WE HAD NO... WE DIDN'T HAVE THE MEANS TO CHALLENGE ANYTHING AGAINST THE TREATIES BECAUSE OUR RIGHT TO HIRE A LAWYER WAS TAKEN AWAY FROM US UNTIL VERY RECENTLY. I THINK IT WAS THE INDIAN ACT UNTIL 1950 THAT INDIANS COULD NOT CHALLENGE THE TREATIES OR LAND CLAIMS AND HIRE A LAWYER. THAT WAS THE OFFICIALS THAT REPRESENTED THE CROWN DOING THAT. SHE IS SYMBOLIC, YES, OR HER ANCESTORS ARE SYMBOLIC AND IT'S IMPORTANT FOR RELIGIOUS INDIAN PEOPLE THAT SHE CARRY ON, BUT THE REALITY IS THAT THE TREATIES DID NOT START BEING PROTECTED UNTIL PEOPLE WHO BECAME EDUCATED WERE ABLE TO CHALLENGE IN COURT, AND THAT ONLY STARTED HAPPENING IN THE 1960s, '70s, AND ON.

Steve says LET ME PUT THAT ARGUMENT TO CHRISTINA BLIZZARD, NOT ONLY THAT, CHRISTINA, YOU KNOW THAT SOME WOULD SAY IT'S AN OUT-OF-DATE INSTITUTION AND RACIST INSTITUTION AS WELL. COULD YOU SPEAK TO THOSE CRITICISMS?

The caption changes to "Christina Blizzard, @chrizblizz."

Christina says I THINK THOSE CRITICISMS ARE ABSOLUTELY BASELESS. IN FACT, THE QUEEN HAS DEMONSTRATED ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS THAT SHE IS CERTAINLY NOT RACIST AND SHE OPPOSES RACISM. IF YOU LOOK BACK TO 1987, THERE WAS A BIG MOVEMENT WITHIN THE COMMONWEALTH TO... A LOT OF THE COMMONWEALTH COUNTRIES WANTED SOUTH AFRICA DROPPED AND THEY WANTED SANCTIONS AND OBVIOUSLY THERE WAS THE ISSUE OF SANCTIONS AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA BECAUSE OF THAT RACIST APARTHEID SYSTEM THERE. AND IT'S VERY WELL-DOCUMENTED THAT THE QUEEN BEHIND THE SCENES WAS SUPPORTING BRIAN MULRONEY AT I THINK IT WAS A COMMONWEALTH HEAD OF GOVERNMENTS MEETING IN VANCOUVER AT THE TIME, AND IT WAS... YOU KNOW, SHE WAS PUSHING FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST HER OWN PRIME MINISTER, MARGARET THATCHER, DID NOT WANT SANCTIONS AND THE QUEEN DID. AND SHE ALSO WANTED SAN FRANCISCO TO REMAIN PART OF THE COMMONWEALTH. IF YOU LOOK BACK TO WHEN SOUTHAFRICA BECAME A REPUBLIC IN 1960, 1961, THE PERSON WHO OPPOSED THAT WAS NELSON MANDELA. HE SUPPORTED THE QUEEN. THE QUEEN LOST ALL HER TITLES IN SOUTH AFRICA, OF COURSE, WHEN SOUTH AFRICA BECAME A REPUBLIC, AND IT WAS THE WHITE LEADERS IN SOUTH AFRICA WHO WANTED TO BECOME THE REPUBLIC. NELSON MANDELA, WHO BECAME A LIFE-LONG FRIEND OF THE QUEEN, WHEN MANDELA BECAME PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA, HE INVITED THE QUEEN BACK TO SOUTH AFRICA FOR A STATE VISIT AND SHE, IN TURN, INVITED HIM BACK TO THE U.K. FOR A STATE VISIT. SO I THINK THAT THERE'S VERY FLIMSY EVIDENCE. IN FACT, YOU KNOW, THAT VERY TELLING PHOTOGRAPH OF AFTER SOUTH AFRICA DID ALL THIS IN THE 1960, '61, THE QUEEN THEN MADE A POINT OF DANCING WITH THE PRESIDENT OF GHANA WHICH WAS A PHOTOGRAPH SHOCKED THE STRIP WHE SOUTH AFRICAN LEADERS WERE SHOCKED THAT SHE DID THIS. SO I THINK TO SAY THE QUEEN IS A COLONIALIST OR A RACIST, YOU'RE ON VERY FLIMSY GROUND INDEED BECAUSE SHE HAS STOOD UP TO RACISTS AT EVERY TURN.

Steve says LET ME BRING UP PHILIPPE LEGACE WHO... SOME WHO WANT TO SEE THE DIVORCE HAPPEN CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN. BECAUSE IT'S COMPLICATED.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "What it would take. Rolling back the red carpet." The quote reads "When Canada patriated its Constitution in 1982, monarchist premiers ensured that any change to Canada's status as a monarchy would require a unanimous constitutional amendment, with the support of all provincial legislatures and the federal Parliament. Specifically, paragraph 41(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982, states that the unanimous amending procedure must be followed to alter matters related to 'the office of the Queen, the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governor of a province.'"
Quoted from Phillippe Lagassé, Policy Options. January 21, 2020.

Steve says PETER, THAT SOUNDS LIKE AN EXTREMELY HIGH BAR TO GET OVER. CAN YOU?

The caption changes to "Becoming 'the Republic of Canada.'"

Peter says IT REQUIRES UNANIMOUS CONSENT, CONSTITUTIONALLY, VERY DIFFICULT TO DO, ESPECIALLY WHEN MOST PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS AND MOST CANADIANS DON'T CONSIDER IT A PRIORITY. BUT LISTEN, BACK IN 1955... I JUST WANT TO PICK UP ON SOMETHING CHRIS SAID AS WELL. BACK IN 1964 AND '65, MANY CANADIANS WOULD HAVE REACTED THE WAY SHE DESCRIBED THE UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS REACTING TO THE ABOLITION OF THE MONARCHY AND THEY DID REACT THAT WAY WHEN LESTER PEARSON PROPOSED THE CANADIAN FLAG. IT WAS SAID, LISTEN, THIS ISN'T A PRIORITY. WE HAVE THOUSANDS OF OTHER OF PRIORITIES IN CANADA AND HE PUSHED AND PUSHED AND WASN'T DETERRED. I THINK THAT'S THE KIND OF POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IT WOULD TAKE FOR SOMETHING LIKE THIS WITH THE MONARCHY. THE QUEEN IS NOT GOING TO LAST FOREVER. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE AN ACTUARY TO UNDERSTAND THAT. SHE HAS BEEN IMPRESSIVE. I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING THAT CHRIS HAS SAID ABOUT HER. BUT THE FACT IS SHE IS NOT GOING TO LAST FOREVER. WE SHOULD BE PREPARING FOR WHAT COMES AFTER. DO WE REALLY WANT KING CHARLES, DO WE REALLY WANT A KING WILLIAM? DO WE REALLY WANT TO BE REPRESENTED AND LED BY A FAMILY THAT'S BETTER IN THE PAGES OF HELLO MAGAZINE THAN THEY ARE IN OUR HALLS OF POWER?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says ASHOK, YOU HAVE SEEN THE CONSTITUTIONAL DIFFICULTY IN JUMPING OVER THAT BAR. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON WHETHER OR NOT WE COULD ACTUALLY DO THAT?

The caption changes to "Ashok Charles, @Republic_Now."

Ashok says WELL, ONE THING IS, THAT AMENDING FORMULA SECTION THAT YOU REFERRED TO, IT DOESN'T ONLY REFER TO THE OFFICE OF THE QUEEN. IT ALSO REFERS TO THE NUMBER OF MEMBERS IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS THAT EACH PROVINCE IS ASSIGNED, THE USE OF ENGLISH AND FRENCH AS OFFICIAL LANGUAGES, THE COMPOSITION OF THE SUPREME COURT. SO TO SAY THAT WE CAN'T CHANGE ANY OF THOSE THINGS WOULD BE REALLY PATHETIC, WOULDN'T IT, TO SAY THAT AS A NATION WE CAN'T EVOLVE IN THOSE AREAS. SO LET'S TAKE THAT... LET'S MAKE THAT POINT FIRST. SECONDLY, I WANT TO DRAW YOUR ATTENTION TO THE INSIGHT OF A VERY QUALIFIED CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER, TED McWHINNEY THAT ARGUED WE COULD BEGIN THE PROCESS OF PHASING OUT THE MONARCHY AFTER THE DEMISE OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II QUIETLY AND WITHOUT FANFARE BY SIMPLY FAILING LEGALLY TO PROCLAIM ANY SUCCESSOR TO THE QUEEN IN RELATION TO CANADA." SO I'M NOT SAYING THIS IS A SLAM-DUNK, THIS IS THE WAY WE CAN GO. BUT TED McWHINNEY WAS A VERY HIGHLY QUALIFIED CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER. UNFORTUNATELY HE'S NO LONGER ALIVE AND HE CAN'T CHAMPION THIS ARGUMENT HIMSELF. BUT THE ARGUMENT IS THERE AND IT'S BEEN MADE AND I THINK IT CERTAINLY NEEDS TO BE CONSIDERED THAT WE COULD SIDE-STEP THE UNANIMITY REQUIREMENT. IT IS POSSIBLE. THAT OPTION NEEDS TO BE STUDIED.

Steve says HANS, DO YOU THINK IT'S DOABLE?

The caption changes to "Hans Bathija, @HansBathija."

Hans says I DON'T THINK IT'S DOABLE. THROUGH MEECH LAKE, THROUGH CHARLOTTETOWN HAD SIMPLER WAYS TO CHANGE OUR CONSTITUTION WITH LIMITED SUCCESS, PERHAPS NO SUCCESS AT ALL. CERTAINLY QUEBEC, I WENT TO GLENDON COLLEGE AND BEAR THE SCARS OF A BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND CERTAINLY WEAR MY SCHOOL TIE. I WENT THROUGH THE REFERENDUM BACK IN THE EARLY '90s THERE. YOU KNOW, QUEBEC STILL HAS GRIEVANCES AROUND SIGNING THE CONSTITUTION. QUEBEC IS STILL ANGLING FOR MORE POWERS, OVER THE LAST 24 HOURS THEY'VE BEEN ANGLING FOR MORE POWERS, THE LEADER OF THE LIBERAL PARTY OF QUEBEC. YOU WOULD NEED ALMOST ALL 11 CROWNS TO AGREE TO THAT. THERE MAY BE A SHORTER ROUTE, BEING OF INDIAN HERITAGE, INDIA WENT THROUGH DOMINION STATUS AND THEN WENT TO REPUBLIC STATUS. PAKISTAN FOLLOWED SUIT. IS IT A ONE- SHOT DEAL GOES TO A REPUBLIC RIGHT AWAY? VERY DIFFICULT TO DO. A MAJORITY OF THE STATES, THE MAJORITY AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL. THEY COULDN'T DO IT. WE HAVE A FORMER COMPLICATED FORMULA IN CANADA, INCLUDING OUR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN OUR TREATIES. I'VE VISITED ALL THREE CHAPEL ROYALS HERE IN ONTARIO, WHETHER SIX NATIONS OR DOWN AT MASSEY OR TYENDINAGA, YOU CAN FEEL THE LOYALTY TOWARDS THE CROWN THE ELDERS HAVE, AS DELIA POINTED OUT. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS ACKNOWLEDGED THEY'RE WILLING TO NEGOTIATE WITH THE HEREDITARY CHIEFS. SO TO REPLACE THAT IS A LONG ROAD TRAVELLED. IS IT ONE THAT WE AS CANADIANS AS TAXPAYERS WANT TO TAKE ON AT THIS POINT IN OUR BODY POLITIC? I DON'T THINK SO. GIVEN WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE SOUTH, WE'RE ABOUT TO HEAD INTO A ROCKY TIME WITH THE AMERICANS, WITH BREXIT GOING ON, MY HOME COUNTRY ORIGINALLY GOING THROUGH ITS TROUBLES WITH EUROPE AND WITH THE RISE OF CHINA AND OTHER THINGS, I THINK THE MONARCHY PROVIDES A STABILITY AND OASIS AND TO GET RID OF IT, GO TO THE REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT, IS A TOUGH, TOUGH ROAD. I DON'T THINK CANADIANS HAVE THE APPETITE TO DO THAT. MOST CANADIANS ARE FAIRLY DISPASSIONATE IN POLITICS IN GENERAL, AND THIS WOULD CERTAINLY BE A VERY PASSIONATE TOPIC BUT... TO REPLACE ALL THE SYMBOLISMS AND TRADITIONS THIS COUNTRY HAS. LET'S SAY, FOR EXAMPLE, WE DO GET TO THE POINT PEOPLE WANT TO DO THIS. WHAT SYMBOLS DO WE REPLACE IT WITH? IN SOUTH AFRICA THEY HAVE A PRESIDENTIAL MONARCHY WHERE THE PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA LOOKS AFTER HEREDITARY CHIEFTAINS TO THIS DAY. SO THIS CARRIES ON. THERE ARE MANY FORMULAS WE WOULD HAVE TO GET THROUGH TO ASSESS. I JUST DON'T SEE IT HAPPENING, STEVEN.

Steve says LET ME SEE IF I CAN CHANNEL THE COMPROMISING SPIRIT OF WILLIAM GRENVILLE DAVIS HERE AND SEE IF THERE'S A SWEET SPOT OF COMPROMISE. ON ONE HAND THERE IS A STATUS QUO THAT'S INTOLERABLE TO SOME OF YOU. ON THE OTHER HAND THERE IS A REPUBLICAN-STYLE DEMOCRACY AS IN THE UNITED STATES WHICH IS A COMPLETE NON-STARTER TO MANY CANADIANS AS WELL. I WONDER IF THERE'S NOT A COMPROMISE IN... LET ME GET PETER AND CHRISTINA TO TALK ABOUT THIS FIRST AND BRIEFLY, WE ONLY HAVE A FEW MINUTES TO GO HERE, WITH MAINTAINING OUR PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUTIONAL PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY, BUT HAVING, LET'S SAY, THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE PREMIERS CHOOSE A CANADIAN TO BE THE HEAD OF STATE? COULD YOU LIVE WITH THAT, PETER?

Peter says OF COURSE THAT'S WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN, WHETHER IT'S THE P.M. OR PREMIERS OR A NAME THAT THE GOVERNMENT PUTS FORWARD TO A VOTE IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, IT SHOULDN'T BE THE WAY THE CURRENTLY GOVERNOR GENERAL IS CHOSEN BECAUSE THAT TENDS TO REALLY JUST REFLECT THE INTERESTS OR WHIM OF WHOEVER HAPPENS TO BE PRIME MINISTER. YOU KNOW, OTHER COUNTRIES VOTE IN PARLIAMENT. MAYBE VOTE IN PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURES. OF COURSE THAT MAKES SENSE, STEVE. THE OTHER THING IS THAT, LISTEN, THE QUEEN AS A SYMBOL, OR THE MONARCHY AS A SYMBOL, ISN'T WHAT IT WAS WHERE A COUPLE OF YOUR GUESTS FIRST ARRIVED IN CANADA. IT'S NOT WHAT IT WAS EVEN 50 YEARS AGO. IT'S BEEN DIMINISHING EVERY YEAR, SLOWLY, STEADILY, AND THROUGH MY LIFETIME. THERE USED TO BE A TIME, AND I'M TOO YOUNG TO REMEMBER THIS, BUT IN ONTARIO MOVIE THEATRES, PEOPLE USED TO STAND FOR GOD SAVE THE QUEEN BEFORE THE MOVIE STARTED OR AT SPORTING EVENTS, OBVIOUSLY. THAT'S NOT THE CASE. THE QUEEN'S PICTURE IS NOT EVEN ON ALL OUR CURRENCY. LET'S CONTINUE ON THAT PATH AS WELL OF ELIMINATING THE IMAGE OF A MONARCH. AS I SAY, NO DISRESPECT TO QUEEN ELIZABETH. BUT THIS IS A FAMILY AND INSTITUTION THAT BELONGS IN THE PAST, NOT THE PRESENT AND CERTAINLY NOT THE FUTURE.

Steve says CHRISTINA, HOW ABOUT THE COMPROMISE I JUST LAID OUT?

Christina says WELL, I REALLY DISAGREE WITH PEOPLE THAT PEOPLE DO NOT TURN OUT FOR THE ROYALS. NOW, CLEARLY HE HASN'T COVERED THE ROYAL TOURS THAT I HAVE COVERED BECAUSE THERE YOU SEE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE SHOW UP EVERY TIME THE QUEEN VISITS, WHEN WILLIAM AND KATE CAME. THIS IS NOT A DYING INSTITUTION IN THIS COUNTRY, AND I THINK A GREAT MANY PEOPLE ARE VERY HAPPY WITH THE WAY IT IS.

Peter says THEY'RE CELEBRITIES, CHRIS, THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE. IT'S CELEBRITY WORSHIP. THEY TURN OUT FOR KIM KARDASHIAN TOO.

The caption changes to "Succession."

Christina says THAT IS WHERE... WHEN PEOPLE... ROYALS RUN INTO TROUBLE WHEN THEY THINK THEY'RE THE KARDASHIANS. WE HAVE SEEN THAT WITH PERHAPS THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF SUSSEX. THAT'S THEIR PROBLEM. THAT'S NOT WHAT YOU'VE SEEN WITH THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE WHO SEE IT MORE AS A LIFE OF SERVICE, AND THAT IS WHAT IT HAS BEEN. I THINK WHAT WILL HAPPEN GOING FORWARD IS THAT ONCE THE QUEEN IS NO LONGER THE QUEEN, I THINK PRINCE CHARLES WILL ACTUALLY BE A VERY GOOD KING. I THINK WHAT HE WILL DO IS MODERNIZE THE MONARCHY. I THINK HE WILL SLIM DOWN THE CORE FAMILY JUST TO ITS ESSENCE AND WILL MAKE SOME REFORMS IN THAT RESPECT AND I THINK IT WILL, AS IT ALWAYS HAS DONE, AS THE MONARCHY HAS DONE OVER THE YEARS, WILL EVOLVE AND CHANGE TO FIT... TO FIT CIRCUMSTANCES. BUT I THINK YOU REALLY NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE DEPTH OF FEELING FOR THE MONARCHY. I WAS ON ONE TOUR WHERE THE QUEEN DROVE FROM STRATFORD TO BRANTFORD, AND THEY HAD TO... WELL, I WAS WONDERING WHY THEY WERE SO DELAYED. IT WAS BECAUSE IN EVERY TOWN, EVERY VILLAGE, HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE HAD SHOWED UP. THEY NOT JUST SHOWED UP, THEY HAD SHOWED UP IN THEIR SUNDAY BEST. SO THE QUEEN HAD SLOWED DOWN THE CARS SO THEY COULD ALL GET A GLIMPSE OF HER.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman. Student Intern: Nojoud Al Mallees."

Steve says I THINK WE USE THREE WORDS WHICH I COULD USE PRETTY MUCH AT THE END OF EVERY PROGRAM, AND THEY ARE: WE SHALL SEE. I WANT TO THANK THE FIVE OF YOU FOR COMING ON TO TVO TONIGHT AND SHARING YOUR VIEWS. WE REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR TIME. TAKE CARE, EVERYBODY.

All the guests say THANK YOU.

Watch: Time for Canada to Scrap the Monarchy?