Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Monday, 5 March 2007

He came out of nowhere and destroyed us with an olive of grace and dignity

by Juan Tolentino

Okay, gents, let's play nice, now...

Though I do have my view regarding this entire debate, I shall begin with an epigram: Bring me the Proust of the Papuans, and I shall be happy to read him.

Granted, I do not consider myself quite as well grounded in the political tradition of the Dominion as most of the fine bloggers here. As a very obviously non-white immigrant, I sometimes wonder whether I have a "real" stake in the history of my adopted country. Yet, on further thought, does this really matter? Does my Oriental origin or my youth or my newness to this land mean that I am entitled to a lesser consideration, to a lesser share of the bounty of history and tradition that has served us so well over the years? The obvious answer, as was made painfully clear to me, is no, and I will tell you why.

I am a monarchist. I have come to believe that the institution of constitutional monarchy is a fine system under which to be ruled and governed. Granted, it is not perfect, but no human institution, however grand, is ever perfect, and if we were to set perfection as the standard for the management of our affairs, then we would have no government at all, but I digress. What is important is how someone like myself, a young brown fellow from the Philippines, could so easily adopt, and so firmly believe, in the majesty of the British Crown. Thus, I believe that J.J. is entirely wrong to suppose that monarchy is an essentially ethnocentric affair.

Yet, I still hold an attachment to my home country. Even if I were many oceans away, I would still have that same sentiment I've always had, that I am a proud Filipino. I am proud to have come from that amazing little archipelago where the mangoes are always ripe (try them sometime) and the people are always friendly. Yet, to love my country of birth it would be incongruous to glaze over the truth, that despite our association with America, the Philippines does not have the political and social impact of other, "whiter" nations, but I'm perfectly fine with that. I do not love the Philippines because she is lavished with praise and attention. I love her because she is the Philippines, the facts of the matter be damned.

Returning upon the main road, it would seem wise to consider again the question: what exactly is so "white" about Britishness? Does being a certain colour or race prohibit me from appreciating the traditions of this country? Does having a certain ethnicity make my sentiment a fleeting spectacle, a luscious dream of doom? Nay, I say, and nay again. The proud Britannic culture is the right of all who profess their loyalty, their appreciation and love, towards the realm that gives them their livelihood and their life. We are all British by our shared connection to the past. You are British. I am British.

I first loved the Philippines, but now I also love Canada, and I love the Crown. Call it sentiment, if you will. Call it foolishness, or illogical, or what have you. I would not flinch, for it is all true. My attachment to the Crown is not something defined solely by words or declared by treatise, nor is it bound by human convention or legal instrument. It is simply there, either to be accepted or rejected, and I have chosen to accept.

I have seen how this question has divided many of us here who are otherwise civil and respectful persons. I do sorely wish that this come to an end, for it not fitting that we would live in the free country, a freedom purchased by the blood of those before us and secured by ties that bind, ties that stretch back generations, should so squander it with name-calling and ad hominem. Certainly, there must be merit to both sides of the argument, as there is always is among those who truly seek the truth. To J.J. and his republican friends, I encourage them to read through the earlier posts, for having read them I find no hint of malice or ill-will towards people of colour or transplantation, only a proud celebration of Anglo culture and history and a dismay at those who would wish it away. To my fellow monarchists, I say: let us not the sun set on us. To the Canadians, I say let us remember that erstwhile Republic, though fickle, a sister from the same Mother. We Britons shall never be slaves, and least of all to our passions.

God be with you all.


Anonymous said...

On Canadians killed in WWII
"These were young men to which the label 'British Subject' was simply not applicable."
-Paul Martin Jr.

Beaverbrook said...

Sounds like something Prime Minister Paul Martin would say. When did he say that, and could you please provide a source?

fontaine said...

I wasn't a fan of Martin (I work with the Conservative Party) but he hit it on the head there.

Beaverbrook said...

Thanks. The article errors when it says that the term British subject ended with Canadian citizenship in 1947. Between 1947 and 1977 we were both British subjects and Canadian citizens before British subject was amended to "Commonwealth citizen" by the Citizenship Act, 1977.

Scott said...

You work with the Conservative party? Of Canada?

Who knew they took people like you...

Scott said...
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Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beaverbrook said...

He's no doubt a member of the youth wing. Give the young man time. The Conservatives will make a conservative of him eventually, of that we can hope.

fontaine said...

Sorry guys, but almost every Conservative I know in the Party is either apathetic towards the monarchy or outright hostile to it. Especially the old Reform wing of which I belong to.

Scott said...

Troubling. Are there no High Tories left in Canada? I suppose having a Tory party for so long named, hilariously, the Progressive Conservatives, is after all rather indicative (despite a number of their apparent past impulses).

Bearhunter said...

Beaverbrook, if you don't mind me asking, when did you become British?

James said...

It seems more than plausible that Spencer ("fontaine") would gravitate towards other republicans. It's also more than plausible that as a person not even into his 20s he'd be associating with other irascible youth. If their ideologies don't change in the future it seems hard to believe they'll go far in a party that elected an openly admitted "proud monarchist" as their leader.

fontaine said...

Hahaha. You do not know or understand Harper at all. I've only met the man twice and I know it's hardly a proud monarchist.

I also find it slightly disturbing so many people on here know so much about those who oppose them. My first name for example. I also saw it mentioned a few months ago my joining of the Canadian Forces. Don't do too much digging, it's getting kind of weird.

fontaine said...

*he's hardly a proud monarchist

James said...

Seems Harper said otherwise in Parliament the other day.

As for your identity, could there possibly be coincidence that you post here as "fontaine" when there was a republican "Spencer Fontaine" on the Monarchist League of Canada board, as well as a republican "SFont" who strongly supports J.J. at Wikipedia as much as he does for J.J. here?

fontaine said...

Seems Harper also more or less ragged on the Queen in a speech to American conservatives back in the 90s. Harper knows how to play people, and ya'll are being played.

Beaverbrook said...

Bearhunter, I was born a British subject, a status removed in 1977, but I am not a British citizen. My ancestry is British, however.

James, you can always tell the youngsters, the ones that can't restrain themselves. When they get all antagonistically macho, when they want to "masticate you in debate", but thanks for revealing the identity of our dear Spencer.

Spencer, my boy, Harper is a monarchist, and a Churchillian at that. He may not be a Tory, he may have polished some of his rougher edges, and perhaps has "matured" in power, but he is no republican.

fontaine said...

Oh no, he's not a republican, but he's not a monarchist either. Like most Canadians he just doesn't care. You'll note he doesn't use the flowery monarchist line of the Queen or the GG appointing Lieutenant Governors or whomever, and you'll note he acts as the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian military. He is a practical person, and monarchism does not lend well to pragmatism.

fontaine said...

And what identity was revealed? It's not as if he busted my my iron clad disguise. I am posting using my last name, how is that some sort of ruse?

Neil Welton said...

Yet James has certainly pulled the rug from under you. "Active member of political party measures Crown for own head." Shock. Horror. Or are you only measuring on behalf of someone else - because they are paying you to? For surely this is how the modern and "practical" politician thinks, isn't it? "Make men bow down to ME."

fontaine said...

You don't even make any sense! What are you even suggesting, that I am seeking power for myself or that someone is paying me to undermine the "power" of the Crown? I hate to break it to you but ultimate power already rests in the hands of the Prime Minister, if I was looking to steal power from anyone it would be from him.

Neil Welton said...

Who said anything about power? I was merely talking about the delusions of grandeur and all the pumped up egos. Politicians are rather like that, haven't you noticed? Come off it. Don't be naive past the age of twenty-one. For surely you aim to get rid of the Crown so that you (or perhaps an ugly politician that you suck up to) can be the centre of attention instead? You do, after all, appear to have taste for being the centre of attention.

Theodore Harvey said...

I find it odd that none of the above comments appear to refer specifically to Mr. Tolentino's eloquent comment. Thank you, sir, for your inspiring contribution to the discussion.

fontaine said...

I don't aspire for anything other than good government in Canada. You may like to blame all of societies ills on politicians, but I'm not so simple minded as to use them as a scapegoat.

Neil Welton said...

Yet that is why the republican cause will ultimately be defeated Fontaine. Those "simple minded" masses like nothing more than to angrily and rightly proportion blame. I think you will find it is called "the trump card". For as you walk into politics the "simple minded" are walking the other way. For politicians are so popular - have you noticed?

In stark contrast a new and younger generation of monarchists are taking to the helm around the world. Modernising and refreshing their arguments but also changing the terms of the debate - making it much more stark for the next generation. A new generation with a modernised message. A new generation that will not pussy foot around. A new generation that will eat your heart and kidneys before breakfast - toasted.

For your cause shall be like dust when we're finished.

Spencer said...

You should show me these young monarchists, because I've found none. Unless you mean the kids John Aimers creepily groomed before the revelations about his personal life came out?

My entire experience with young, politically involved people is with the Conservative Party of Canada and all of them are outright republican at best, and apathetic at worst. Like most Canadians most of them simply do not care about the monarchy, they're more pragmatic, and they view government and politicians as a solution rather than a convenient scapegoat.

Neil Welton said...

Yet I was talking about the "millions" of simple minded masses, not the "hundreds" who are just "the politically involved".

fontaine said...

The hundreds who are politically involved will one day form political office, and the hundreds who are politically involved are typically a nice cross section of the "simple minded masses". Did you miss the poll were only 5% of Canadians were able to identify the Queen as being our Queen and being our head of state? People do not care!

Scott said...

You sound as if you're proud of that.

I hope you realise it is a terrible cause of shame. And that you are appearing not to be a conservative, but a frivolous, shallow child with no ideals.

fontaine said...

I have ideals, ideals that far outweigh an antiquated, incorrect notion of what this country is. I'm the sort of person who focuses on tangible results, not fake culture wars perpetuated by people who want to fight a fight that does not exist.

James said...

Ah, we have an "incorrect" notion of what the country is. Hmm.. Such an assertion would lead me to believe that Spencer is actually a Liberal in disguise - after all, it was always they who took the pompous stance of telling us all what a "real" Canadian was.

Such thinking makes me wonder just what kind of republic Spencer would have us live in.

Neil Welton said...

Trouble is Fontaine such a dramatic constitutional change would need the people's consent. A consent which could only be properly obtained via referendum. It is at this junction that "the hundreds who are politically involved" would be put back in their place by, what you call, the millions upon millions of "simple minded masses".

fontaine said...


I don't presume to tell anyone what a real Canadian is, I let people make up their minds for themselves what constitutes a real Canadian. I merely view you guys as completely incorrect on the facts of our history, which isn't a matter of opinion it's demonstrable fact.

You're the people who are actively supporting what more or less amounts to a fascist, state before people ideology, so don't accuse me of trying to control people.

James said...

Ah, but you see, Neil, this is why the "republican movement" invests so much time and energy in "educating" the simple minded masses on how "undemocratic" living under a monarchy is, what with their propaganda about being kept from independence (read: denied freedom) by an oppressive foreign queen, and all. "Look," they say, "how much more power you simple people will have in this republic we offer you! You can vote for your head of state! You will be free! Rise up!" It's all rather Bolshevik, really. I expect their posters showing the strength of the working man will be on hoarding and lamp-posts soon.

Bearhunter said...

"Bearhunter, I was born a British subject, a status removed in 1977, but I am not a British citizen. My ancestry is British, however"

I do apologise, Beaverbrook, I had not seen the byline atop the post attributing it to Juan Tolentino and assumed (tsk, tsk) that it was by yourself. So I should ask Juan, when did you become British?

Scott said...

I fail to see what the monarchy necessarily has to do with the constitutional imbalances Fontaine perceives (and which, in many respects, I do not doubt; Britain suffers them too). You can historically diagnose the course (and cause) of the problem up till now: a progressively weakening monarchy, a progressively strengthening parliament, but no redrawing of the structure of government to account for these changes and provide for the division of powers originally key to the whole arrangement. Fine. But how does simply knocking the monarchy off, at this stage, automatically follow?

I don't think it follows any more instantly than any other number of ideas. Why not re-strengthen the monarchy? Why not keep the monarchy and reform at the parliamentary level? There are so many interesting solutions we could discuss. I believe the apolitical head of state, and the historical associations and continuity (amongst so much else) that the monarchy provides, are very excellent things indeed. They are great and profound strengths. I suspect Fontaine could concede this. I also believe the Prime Ministerial role has become, in constitutional terms, de facto Presidential, and this, because it collapses two branches of government into one, has potentially severe and very damaging consequences.

But the republican system would merely separate the PM from the legislature (and provide for separate elections), and, having done so, then abolish the monarchy because - ? To get rid of the unique advantages of an apolitical head of state? Because that really helps national unity in America, of course?

Why not separate the PM's office from the legislative branch, bring in a fully elected Senate (or House of Lords), and keep the monarchy as the head of state?

Queen -> Prime Minister -> Majority and Opposition Leaders of the Senate -> Majority and Opposition Leaders of the House of Commons.

Great, surely?

Neil Welton said...

I see James. Yet this is why it is so very important for the generation of younger monarchists to modernise and repackage their arguments and ideals. Present them with new vigour in different ways that will speak direct to our generation - the generation that could decide all this.

Scott said...

I may, in fact, have been replying to 'anonymous' from a different thread. Whoops. But I stand by it.

fontaine said...

My opposition to the monarchy isn't really based on any ideological principle, I just see it as pretty much useless in this day and age. A waste of money and something that should get thrown out as we evolve.

Splendor Sine Occasu said...

I've see many examples of PM Harper publicly supporting the monarchy. Among them:

-The Queen's portrait was replaced in the PMO, which was taken down by the Liberals.

-The Speech from the Throne was the first time in a long time that the GG acknowledged her role as Her Majesty's Representative, and not Head of State (speech written by PMO).

-PM Harper's speech in London where he praised our common British heritage including the institution of the Monarchy.

Oh yeah. I was a Reformer too.

fontaine said...

I have a friend who used to work in Martin's PMO and he says he has no idea where that Queen story came from, as he said he saw a picture of the Queen at his time working there. It's the same deal as how the Conservatives claim that the leopard print carpet in 24 Sussex Drive was put there by Aline Chretien, whereas the Liberals claim Mila Mulroney.

James said...

On the contrary, your reply insinuates that there is indeed an ideology behind your republican motivations: you clearly believe that a republic is the pinnacle of national evolution. To support this you ascribe to that useless republican argument of "monarchies are old, republics are modern (and ergo more advanced, sophisticated and intelligent)"

Ah, but how history has shown both implicit claims to be untrue. How also your comment has revealed that you have an extremely limited knowledge of the past, which is why, perhaps, you're so quick to dismiss everything from it. But, could it be that you have created your own selective view of what has come before, and dismiss all that weakens your republican passions?

Regardless, what a historically and traditionally impoverished life you would have us all lead in your utilitarian utopia.

Beaverbrook said...

Bearhunter, I do believe Juan Tolentino, who dignified us with his beautiful post, is a Canadian who feels British by way of our collective and historical association with that identity. He was not meaning it in the legal national citizenship sense, but in the traditional cultural sense.

fontaine said...

You monarchists cannot make a case without resorting to absurd hyperbole. Utilitarian utopia etc.

Seriously though, I really do not care about the monarchy. It doesn't negatively impact us except by wasting a lot of our money. I can do with or without it. It's just that I believe that to fix Canada we need a massive constitutional rewrite and I honestly think the monarchy would not make the cut in a new constitution. A separate executive and legislative branch is what's needed, and a Queen doesn't really fit in there.

Scott said...

A massive constitutional rewrite?

How so? You are aware that you have one of the oldest in the world, aren't you? And that, indeed, your very old constitution derives in many, many ways from the oldest surviving one in the world (namely, Britain's)? One which stretches back to the middle ages?

There isn't a conservative bone in your body, I fear.

P.S. The monarchy actually costs you almost nothing, and if you are worried about government waste (a legitimate conservative concern), I believe there are literally thousands, if not millions, of worse offences to go after first. And I would also suggest that the money the monarchy 'costs' isn't wasted at all.

Anonymous said...

Conservative and monarchist are not synonymous. Nor can it be said that republican means conservative. The debate is simply this: Does Canada need a foreign head of state or is it time we grew up as a nation and picked our own governance structure. The nonsense of the Queen representing some high ideal is just that nonsense. We as a nation need to set our nation as an ideal then work towards achieving it. The executive branch of government must be separate and accountable from and to the legislative branch. Both branches must be accountable to the people who put them there in the first place and by some strange coincidence foot the bill for all their foolish schemes. In order for that to happen there must be a free and unfettered press who can not be bribed into toeing one party line or another with inducements of political patronage appointments to the Senate or the GG's office.

fontaine said...

Being a conservative doesn't mean blindly adhering to things that are old. Hell, in the Gazette today there was a report about how all the old pipes in the city are resulting in lead poisoning in some citizens here. I guess as a good conservative I should oppose the removal of those pipes! Please. I'm afraid you have a very very politically unaware sense of the word.

Onto my point: I recognize the constitution is one of the oldest in the world, hence why it doesn't accurately reflect Canada's present day nature.

I'm a Jeffersonian in that I believe that laws and constitutions should be constantly scrutinized and reviewed, and there are simply no provisions in ours for that. That's on top of the fact that it's a jumbled mess of old pieces of legislation and whatever. Our constitution is more difficult to understand than Bob Dylan reading Finnegans Wake in a wind tunnel. It does not give one an accurate impression of how our country is governed. The Office of the Prime Minister isn't even mentioned for the love of God.

It's dangerous, outdated and in need of replacement. Like the lead pipes.

P.S. the monarchy costs $1.54 per citizen, as per a study conducted by the Monarchist League of Canada. That's 46,200,000 that could be much better spent.

Scott said...

What?! I can hardly cope with that level of disengenuousness.

Your country needs to "grow up"? Your country's constitution is older than France's, Germany's, Italy's, Poland's, Spain's, etc, etc; you are a mature, ancient country, and have much of our ancient, mature country's legacy interwoven with your own. Your metaphor simply doesn't work.

As for fontaine: away with your straw men (lead pipes and all that rot). I never defined conservatism in that way, and you know it. No-one seriously believes it to be "blindly adhering" to old things, and no-one here has ever argued (explicitly or implicitly) for it to be so. That you think we have betrays either a staggering stupidity, or wilful malignance. Go read Burke. Go read Hayek. Slow, tentative, thoughtful, incremental progress - always with an eye to stability - is the sensible watchword of conservatism. The conservative "conserves", he doesn't "preserve". This is why he has no problem with new lead pipes!

You aren't a Jeffersonian if you think you can somehow junk every element of the British constitution and have a massive rewrite. The US Constitution and Declaration of Independence aren't pulled out of thin air by the power of rationality: they are thoughtful, often ingenious progressions of the British constitution.

If you knew your own constitution and had read the Federalist Papers, you wouldn't be blustering about so stupidly.

Anonymous said...

No country can claim to mature so long as it continues to hide behind the skirts of the head of state of another country. Why has Canada had such a hard time setting its own course in the world? Because like a little child we continue to look somewhere else for our own validation. A mature nation doesn't need to look to the US to feel good about itself A mature nation doesn't need to look to Britian and its calcified class structure to validate the righteousness of its political structure. So long as polititians are able to hide behind a impotent figurehead aka the monarch while they rob the public purse empty that nation shall remain immature.

Swift said...

Being a conservative doesn't mean blindly adhering to things that are old.

No, it means sightedly adhering to things that are old; that is, respecting institutions, repairing and reforming them when necessary, and not being in too much of a hurry to do things like "massive constitutional rewrites". Or do you really need someone to explain to you the difference between a water pipe and a Constitution?

fontaine said...

It was a metaphor, man, don't take it literally.

Anyway, scott, I never said I wanted to "junk" every element of the British constitution, but I do support an American-style re-writing our constitution. An evolution if you will. What we have is a piecemeal wreak that is in dire need of fixing. The status quo is simply not acceptable, and the constant attempts to rewrite it by men far smarter and far more serious than you or I can attest to this. The democratic deficit, individual Parliament's lack of power, the Senate, provincial versus federal powers, etc, etc, etc are all things that can be fixed if we take a serious stab at the constitution.

fontaine said...

Also, scott, I think we have a nice debating point here. Care to take this to MSN for a more intuitive back and forth?

Splendor Sine Occasu said...

From the Globe and Mail

"Our Prime Minister (Harper) has a very British-centric approach to the world," Mr. Kirton says. "He's from a Loyalist family; he's a long-term admirer of their system; a loyal Economist reader; his role model was Margaret Thatcher; and he says 'God save the Queen' in speeches.

Splendor Sine Occasu said...

Sorry, try this link, and click on the first article.

J.J. said...

I'd just like to observe that the comment about the throne speech has evolved into something of a monarchist urban myth. The fact that the Queen was explicitly mentioned has nothing to do with Harper's supposedly vigorous monarchism. After Mrs. Jean made the comment I looked at other throne speeches for context, and found that reference to the Queen is always mentioned when:
1) a new GG gives her first speech (as she acknowledges her role as monarchy's representative in Canada)
2) the Queen does something significant (in this case, celebrating her 80th birthday)

If reference is made to the Queen in a throne speech that does not meet any of the above two variables then I will readily concede that this government is indeed different from others. But last year's throne speech gave little reason to convince me.

In fact, if anything it actually gave me some signs of encouragement. Harper ended a tradition that had been in practice since the days of MacDonald and stopped wearing a morning coat and stripped pants to the ceremony- something every PM prior had done. He also did not revive the practice of having the GG refer to "my government"- something the Liberals did away with upon Chretien taking office.

As an irrelevant aside- I think this site would benefit from a formal discussion forum.