09 July 2012

Australia's Girl Guides drop the Queen ... and God

Having posted recently about an attempt to purge swearing allegiance to the Queen from the Canadian Oath of Citizenship, I couldn't help but notice an article in The Guardian about Australia's Girl Guides dropping reference to Her Majesty in their pledge, or "promise" as it is properly called. The Guides have replaced "do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and my country" with "to be true to myself and develop my beliefs to serve my community and Australia." Not only has the Queen between deleted but, even more importantly, God as well.

Belinda Allen, director of Girl Guides Australia, explained: "Many of the members didn't feel that with our multicultural community of people from 200 nations that it was necessarily relevant for the Queen to be mentioned. We're open to girls from all cultures, backgrounds and faiths and we listened to our membership before we made the change." Nicely said, Belinda.

Here is yet another example of women (little ones) liberating themselves from fusty tradition. The Australian Cub Scouts, on the other hand, have only timidly allowed their members to drop the Queen if they so choose, but God stays.

Nonetheless, if the Australian Girl Guides can cut the apron strings of monarchy, surely we grown-up Canadians can manage it.


  1. "Nonetheless, if the Australian Girl Guides can cut the apron strings of monarchy, surely we grown-up Canadians can manage it."

    And why exactly would this be a good thing?

  2. Because in a mature democracy, people elect their head of state. An unelected, foreign person who achieves her position by birth rather than merit is thoroughly unacceptable to a democrat.

  3. "Because in a mature democracy, people elect their head of state."

    I've always wondered how republicans managed to sell the idea that republics represented some apex of 'maturity' as a country. Whats more, a 'mature' democracy would be a well-functioning one don't you think? Republicans have been able to offer me no evidence that republics offer any benefit in this regard. But on the other side you have studies such as 'Presidents with Prime Ministers: Do Direct Elections Matter?' and 'Constitutional Power and Competing Risks: Monarchs, Presidents, Prime Ministers, and the Termination of East and West European Cabinets' that show real advantages of constitutional monarchy. Meanwhile other studies such as 'Determinants of generalized trust: A cross-country comparison' and 'The Empire Is Dead, Long Live the Empire! Long-Run Persistence of Trust and Corruption in the Bureaucracy' suggest monarchies instill both a trust in government (and fellow citizens) and decrease corruption. Republics have had a free ride for 200 years and monarchies have to justify their existence? I don't think so.

    "An unelected"

    In our democracy we have quite a few positions that are unelected including Supreme Court justices, senior bureaucrats, and military commanders. The last example has historically been elected under revolutionary republics since it was considered 'undemocratic' not to. The former two have far more influence on public policy than the Crown. In all three cases we don't complain about their unelected nature. Does this mean we won't be a 'mature' country until we do elect them or does it mean that Canadians realize that electing certain positions is not beneficial?

    "foreign person"

    People keep saying bad things about foreigners and frankly I want to know what the problem with them is? Her Majesty's family has been intertwined with Canada's development from the very beginning. They have lived here, visited, and kept Canada's best interests in mind. I don't see what is wrong with them living outside the country (as many Canadians themselves choose to do for one reason or another). Furthermore, in an age when ethnic nationalism divides people (and insists that dual-citizenship is bad) it is wonderful to see a group of countries agree to share a single person as their respective heads of state. Seems almost enlightened.

    "achieves her position by birth rather than merit"

    Then you and I are in trouble. I don't know anything about you but I assume you were born here as I was. And as such we both pride ourselves on our own unearned, hereditary privilege; our Canadian Citizenship. And we are able to use that unearned privilege to dramatically effect the course of the country (something Her Majesty keeps to a minimum).

    "thoroughly unacceptable to a democrat."

    As a fellow supporter of democracy I think you need to dig deeper.

  4. Hanging on to the British monarchy is rather like hanging on to mummy’s skirts. It’s immature.

    The judges, senior bureaucrats and military commanders you refer to are appointed on merit, usually after years of exemplary service. Monarchs become head of state for simply being born between the right pair of legs. To place them at the level of top professionals insults the professionals. Choosing a head of state by merit might be worth considering.

    You’re seriously comparing being born a Canadian to becoming head of state? Really?

  5. "Hanging on to the British monarchy is rather like hanging on to mummy’s skirts. It’s immature."

    Canadian Monarchy (its been a separate institution since the 1930s [although much like the country itself it was a drawn out process and it wasn't fully separate until around the 1960s]). But even if it were not, is your issue that we have a monarchy or that we share our head of state with other countries? If the former I refer you to the previously linked studies as well as others. If the latter I must ask how that is not itself an immature view. As for Britain I don't care a whit. We keep the monarchy on its own merits. Its those who cringe at their past that I find immature.

    "The judges, senior bureaucrats and military commanders you refer to are appointed on merit, usually after years of exemplary service...Choosing a head of state by merit might be worth considering."

    True, those positions are chosen by merit but how well does that work for a heads of state? What do you suppose the long time spent as heir to the throne does? Prince Charles has literally trained for the position for life during which he has developed knowledge on a wide range of subjects and demonstrated a far more socially-conscious viewpoint than any government we have had (especially the current one).

    As Jacques Monet wrote "A king is a king, not because he is rich and powerful, not because he is a successful politician, not because he belongs to a particular creed or to a national group. He is King because he is born. And in choosing to leave the selection of their head of state to this most common denominator in the world- the accident of birth- Canadians implicitly proclaim their faith in human equality; their hope for the triumph of nature over political maneuver, over social and financial interest; for the victory of the human person."

    What merit can a politician demonstrate other than being able to be elected, being well-connected, having 'correct' views, and ultimately dividing the people to get elected?

    As John A. MacDonald pointed out, "By adhering to the monarchical principle we avoid one defect inherent in the Constitution of the United States. By the election of the president by a majority and for a short period, he never is the sovereign and chief of the nation. He is never looked up to by the whole people as the head and front of the nation. He is at best but the successful leader of a party. This defect is all the greater on account of the practice of reelection. During his first term of office he is employed in taking steps to secure his own reelection, and for his party a continuance of power. We avoid this by adhering to the monarchical principle – the sovereign whom you respect and love. I believe that it is of the utmost importance to have that principle recognized so that we shall have a sovereign who is placed above the region of party – to whom all parties look up; who is not elevated by the action of one party nor depressed by the action of another; who is the common head and sovereign of all."

    Prince Charles is a nerd, soft-spoken, and prone to saying what he thinks. In short, the type of person who would never be elected in Canada. You can't claim he has any 'natural' talent for the job. But that is the point, to see someone that no one would believe fit for such a public job do it, and do it well, is heartening to those who likewise don't fit the mold of what people expect of public figures. I prefer to leave the naturally talented, 'popular' people in Parliament.

    "You’re seriously comparing being born a Canadian to becoming head of state? Really?"

    Really. And why not? Both are important positions in Canada's governance. While there are those that say we should limit voting rights only to those 'qualified' to do so we recognize that doing so is both dangerous, and not in the service of democracy. Its actually a rather apt comparison.

  6. If you are, as you insist, a democrat you cannot justify an unelected head of state, although you might make a case for an appointed head (rather like our governor general) as long as the appointment is on merit and for a set term.

    The only argument you can make for retaining the British monarchy is that they don’t have any real power anyway so why bother changing. Not much of an argument but that’s all you’ve got.

    I’ve now offered you three posts on this topic which I think is quite generous. Time to move on, so I am now closing comments.