In Quebec, the Queen’s death raises questions about the future of the monarchy in Canada | National

MONTREAL – The mixed reactions in Quebec to the death of Queen Elizabeth II highlight the province’s complex relationship with the monarchy.

In the days following the Queen’s death, incumbent Premier François Legault – who is currently on the campaign trail ahead of the October 3 election – must have wondered whether the province should now eliminate the post of lieutenant governor, as well than the critics of the Parti Québécois for lowering the Quebec flag in honor of the late queen.

Quebec media broadcast both tributes to the monarch and retrospectives on a riot during her visit to Quebec in 1964, known as “Truncheon Saturday”.

The majority of Quebecers do not look favorably on the monarchy for historical reasons as well as their support for democracy, said Gérard Bouchard, a historian and sociologist who teaches at the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi.

“In Quebec, it seems to be a remnant of a colonial era that we thought was gone,” he said in an interview. “In Quebec, the majority of people would say: ‘we don’t know why this continues in Canada and we don’t know why this is being imposed on us in Quebec.'”

While Quebecers may respect the late queen as an individual, the monarchy evokes memories of the British conquest of New France and British colonial rule over French-speaking Canada, said Bouchard, who studies national myths.

The idea that the head of state is a European monarch also goes against Quebec ideas about democracy, he said, adding that opposition to the monarchy is stronger in Quebec among federalists. and Anglophones than in other parts of Canada.

It is the history of colonialism that the leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, seized upon to defend his criticism of Legault’s decision to lower the Quebec flag.

The monarchy was imposed on the people of Quebec by conquest, he said, while the provincial flag, known as the fleurdelisé, represents both the right of Quebecers to exist as a people and the democracy of Province.

“We cannot ignore that she represented an institution, the British crown, which caused significant harm to Quebecers and to Indigenous nations,” he told reporters.

The deportation of the Acadians, the execution of the leaders of the Patriote Rebellion in 1839 and, more recently, the patriation of the constitution without Quebec’s consent were all done in the name of the British crown, he said.

Legault, who accuses St-Pierre Plamondon of “petty politics”, faces questions from journalists who wonder if Quebec will take the opportunity to get rid of the office of lieutenant governor.

Legault said he was aware there had been calls to replace the lieutenant governor, but noted that was not one of his priorities if re-elected.

Quebec has already reduced the importance of the lieutenant-governor. Unlike the other provinces and the federal government, where the legislative sessions open with a speech from the throne delivered by the representative of the monarch, in Quebec, the inaugural speech is delivered by the Prime Minister.

But it’s not just in Quebec where the popularity of the monarchy is declining, said Benoît Pelletier, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Ottawa and a former cabinet minister in the Quebec Liberal government of Jean Charest.

In English-speaking Canada, he argued, support for the monarchy is also on the decline.

‘I think over the next few months there will be a debate about the future of the constitutional monarchy,’ he said, adding that he expects this will eventually lead to a referendum. On the question.

Pelletier said he thinks changing the Canadian constitution to abolish the monarchy would be possible, as long as the negotiations don’t attempt to address other constitutional issues.

However, he personally supports the monarchy.

“I think the system is working well right now and as you say in English, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” he said.

But it is possible, he said, to integrate an elected head of state into a parliamentary system, as was done in Barbados when it became a republic in 2021.

Although there have been expressions of republicanism in Quebec’s history, it would be a mistake to conclude that Quebec has always rejected the monarchy, said Marc Chevrier, professor of political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal. .

After the conquest, Quebec’s French-speaking elites rallied around British institutions, including the monarchy, he said.

There have also been efforts to associate British royalty with the glory of the former French monarchy, he said, noting that the flag of Quebec refers to French royal symbols.

Unlike independence movements in places like Ireland, which have been strongly associated with republicanism, the Parti Québécois never promoted such beliefs while in power, he said.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 11, 2022.

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