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

Saturday, 15 December 2007

What Courtesy Demands

CONSERVATIVES IN THIS COUNTRY were once instinctively monarchists - certainly conservatives and classical liberals should be - and the recent decision of the Harper government not to invite the Queen to Quebec's 400th anniversary celebration rankles. Famously Her Majesty's last visit to the provincial capital provoked rioting in 1964, a sharp contrast to the triumphal greeting received by Charles de Gaulle three years later. Given the Queen's many visits since to other parts of what was once known as the "elder Dominion," the blame for not extending an invitation lies only in small part with the current federal government.

The 1964 riots were a sign of deep cultural immaturity among the Quebecois, not simply among the rioters, who were separatists, but the wider population that refused to condemn them. That immaturity surfaced again during de Gaulle's visit. The incongruity of a province that effectively absented itself from the Second World War, with many honourable exceptions, hailing a man who would have become a footnote in history if not for the efforts of mostly English speaking Canadians, was of course lost. Few historians have observed the importance of the Crown in saving Western Civilization in 1940. The common narrative of Churchill standing firm misses the intangible but vital role played by the monarchy, one he readily admitted.

As a unifying symbol it crossed divisions of class and region within the United Kingdom, but just as importantly it helped to hold the Empire together. Quebec's isolationism in both world wars was not unique, it mirrored that of the United States. The exception was English speaking Canada, loyal to Crown and Empire they didn't think, to borrow Chamberlain's notorious phrase, that Britain was a far away country. The Empire, what Disraeli early on in his career called the "milestones" around the neck of Britain, proved the margin of survival in both world wars. Mr. Harper has shown considerable courage in continuing Canada's support for the rebuilding of Afghanistan. He needs to show courage again by inviting the Queen to celebrate the founding of Quebec this summer.

It will also be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that the new Quebec has outgrown the adolescent fits of the Quiet Revolution, that its people can in the main appreciate and evaluate their history, which includes the Crown. Sir George-Étienne Cartier, the leading Francophone Father of Canadian Confederation, observed that the defeat of his ancestors at the Plains of Abraham was really a blessing in disguise. It saved the Quebecois from the horrors of the French Revolution and allowed them rights and privileges they never would have had as Americans or French colonials, and a security they could never have enjoyed as an independent state.

15 comments:

Viscount Feldon said...

According to Canadian Heritage, the Queen went to Québec City in 1987, and there were no mass riots then.

Beaverbrook said...

I just had a very illuminating read over at The Republic of J.J., a self-proclaimed conservative in his own right, about what one of our Conservative prime ministers thought of the monarchy, which was snatched from his recently released Memoirs. J.J. writes:

"Mulroney speaks of the fact that as a university student, he helped lead protests against the Queen’s infamous 1964 visit to Quebec. In a Canadian Press story on the episode, he was quoted criticizing the lavish spending of the visit, calling it a gross waste of money that would be better spent elsewhere.

His words generated a lot of angry letters, to which Mulroney quips (probably using some revisionist history here):

I was not in fact an anti-royalist, and I later came to greatly admire and enjoy Her Majesty and appreciate her marvelous contributions to the Commonwealth and country. This episode quickly taught me the cost of any perceived disrespect to the sovereign. It was never to happen again.

[...]

Later on, in talking about his first official meeting with Her Majesty, Mulroney pauses to reflect on the Crown’s role in modern Canada:

Canada’s attachment to the monarchy is one that many in Canada—my Irish-Canadian compatriots, for example—and in the United States and overseas do not understand, and probably never will."


Very interesting, isn't it. So there you have it. The fact is no prime minister of ours since Diefenbaker has been what I would call a loyalist. The best you could say is that they are resigned to constitutional monarchy, but not terribly enthusiastic about it. Harper is really the most monarchist prime minister we've had since Dief the Chief, who has actually gone out of his way in past speeches to praise and endorse it, but even he will neutralize it if it becomes an issue. On so many issues of late, Harper has become the great Political Neutralizer. The monarchy is no exception.

He should get some political courage on this one and not let the Quebec tail wag the English Canadian dog.

LINK TO Republic for J.J.

Beaverbrook said...

LINK TO Republic for J.J.

Tweedsmuir said...

My understanding is that the Quebec government wanted to invite her, but the feds nixed it? That said, there is a huge segment of the Quebec population that consistently showds great immaturity on this, as Kipling says.

What really rankles is that the Canadians don't even invite their own Queen for the 400th anniversary of the second oldest city in North America, not six months after the Americans invited Her Majesty to the Jamestown tercentenary!!!

Disgusting.

J.K. Baltzersen said...

Vive la Reine du Québec!

Shaftesbury said...
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Shaftesbury said...
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Shaftesbury said...

BB:

Joe Clark was, and is, a Monarchist. When you entered his Office on Parliament Hill, the first thing you encountered was a huge portrait of Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh. The Crown was very much a part of Joe's life and his conception of Canada.

I was never big on Mr. Clark's "Nation of Regions" perspective (largely because I do not wish it to be true, likely as it is ...), but I admired the man for his courage to live as a conscious Canadian.

In the context of the 1960's and Conservative Youth Politics, Joe Clark was the original Canadian "Young Fogey."

Take it from someone who was on the Hill frequently back in those days.

Shaftesbury said...

Otherwise, a brilliant post. Bravo.

Shaftesbury said...

I left that Political Party because of Mulroney. He was - truly - a man without a sense of tradition and honour. And I actually met the man on numerous occasions. He did more to republicanise Canada than anyone other than Pearson and Trudeau.

Shaftesbury said...

Time to go, my blood is boiling ...

JJ said...

Thanks for the hat tip, My Lord.

I disagree with the idea that Harper is, in any meaningful way, more of a monarchist than any other recent prime minister. People just view his platitudes differently because he's a conservative, even though those platitudes aren't terribly different from the sorts of things his more liberal predecessors (including Mulroney) have also said at one time or another.

When you read the speeches and memoirs of Diefenbaker, by contrast, you see a man for whom the monarchy was not just some sort of side issue, but rather a key, focal point in his entire political ideology, and conception of Canada. Perhaps that’s what one would call the “loyalist” mentality. I am sure he would have fit in very well here, regardless.

Now I while I obviously disagree with him, I think it would probably be fair to say Diefenbaker was the greatest monarchist in Canadian history, in the sense that he was a staunch and articulate defender of the institution precisely when the tide was turning against it. I cannot imagine Harper, nor any other contemporary Canadian politician, summoning the kind of vigor and energy for this issue that Dief so consistently did.

Beaverbrook said...

Six comments in the space of six minutes by Shaft. I can only surmise the contents of the first deleted two!

Yes, I did forget about loyalist Joe, who will go down in history as a brief, low impact prime minister, though his not insignificant presence was felt for a good couple of generations. I was much of a fan of his community of communities either. I doubt he will insist on being buried under the Red Ensign though, nor obviously will Harper for that matter, so it would be incorrect to state that either of them were Diefs, as only Dief could be.

I don't want to overstate Harper's attachment to the country's traditions, for I have no idea what he would do in the end. He seems willing enough to abolish the Senate, or at least use it as a stick, so it would probably be prudent to say he wouldn't die politically trying to save the monarchy as it currently exists. On the other hand, he did shore things up a bit upon coming into office, which was noticable after decades of drift. There is unmistakeably a respect there that wasn't there before.

Shaftesbury said...

I suspect that this shoring is more politically-motivated than cardinal principle.

Even Trudeau had The Queen open Parliament in 1977!

Splendor Sine Occasu said...

From what I've heard, I heard that Her Majesty was not coming because of the minority government situation and the possibility that she would show up in the middle of an election. I have no idea how valid that explanation is...

I would hope that Premier Campbell invites Her Majesty to the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Crown Colony of British Columbia next year!