Republican Quotations

The government doesn't have the right to come into our brains and force us to say things we don't want to say, to force us to think things and have political opinions we wouldn't have otherwise."

~ Canadian Federal civil servant Pierre Vincent on his refusal to swear mandatory allegiance to the Queen

With or without the Royals, we are not Americans. Nor are we British. Or French. Or Void. We are something else. And the sooner we define this, the better.

~ Will Ferguson, Canadian Author

We must reinvent a future free of blinders so that we can choose from real options.

~ David Suzuki, Physicist, Broadcaster, Author - in Inventing the Future 1989

What the hell, she doesn't pay me, I pay her. Besides, what the hell position can a Queen play?

~ Harold Ballard, owner of Toronto Maple Leafs NHL Hockey team, justifying removing the Queen's portrait from Maple Leaf Gardens

I do believe when most people think about it and realize our head of state is foreign - when she travels she doesn't represent Canada, she represents Great Britain - I think they kind of realize this is really an institution that's a bit out of date for Canada to continue with.

~ John Manley, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, May 18, 2001

I think it's a debate that would and should occur over the next few years.

~ Brian Tobin, Canadian Industry Minister, on John Manley's republican comments.

It’s clearly the way to go. There’s an historic inevitability to Canada's reaching full independence.

~ Herb Dhaliwal Canadian Revenue Minister, December 17, 1998 when asked about the Prime Minister's Office contemplation of severing the final ties with the monarchy

Upon the death or demise of the Queen perhaps it's time for Canada to abolish its association with the monarchy and set up a new institution.

~ John Manley, Canadian Industry minister, September 10, 1997

From some people, you get this terribly emotional response as if it were some kind of act of treachery or something to raise a quite legitimate question.

~ Brian Tobin, Canadian Industry Minister, in support of John Manley's republican comments

There is no longer any strong idea behind the Canadian monarchy and its representative in Canada. Left as it is, the monarchy will continue to atrophy. Canadians, who have often led Australia in constitutional change, would do better this time to follow the Australian lead, and adopt a minimal republican state, one that retains the essence of parliamentary government and changes only the way the head of state is chosen. Any reforms should take care to assure that those powers that still reside with the Sovereign should be transferred to the new head of state.

~ David E. Smith, Author of The Republican Option in Canada, Past and Present

I don't think it's the best moment to raise this issue. However, I think it is an issue we will have to examine.

~ Jean Charest, Leader of the Canadian Progressive Conservative Party, September 15, 1997, when asked about John Manley’s suggestion of severing ties with the monarchy.

Canada is divisible because it’s not a real country.

~ Lucien Bouchard, Quebec Premier, when asked during the 1995 Quebec independence referendum as to why he didn't feel guilty about breaking up Canada

We have planted the Standard of Liberty in Canada

~ William Lyon Mackenzie, Upper Canadian leader of the 1837 Rebellion, in the preamble to his Proclamation to the People of Upper Canada, the blueprint of his ill-fated Republic of Canada

The bottom line for (Canadian) republicans is unity, unity and unity. The lesson from Australia is that division on this issue creates confusion and increases the chance of failure. And get a prime minister who is on side -- it's a powerful office and John Howard sure showed Jean Chetrien how effective it can be in destroying millions of peoples' dreams.

~ Greg Barns, National Chairman of the Australian Republican Movement

I think all the islands that still have her should dump her as quickly as possible. She has done nothing for the country. She is just there, just sitting there doing nothing.

~ Julien Noel, 38 year old Barbadian dive master, when asked his opinion of the Monarchy in Barbados

The Westminster system has served us reasonably well, but we need in this region a presidential form of government with a president directly elected by the people.

~ James Mitchell, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

It would be an important psychological symbol. We think we are at the stage in our development where it is important that ordinary Barbadian boys and girls should be able to aspire to the highest office in our land.

~ David Simmons, Barbados Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs

An Australian head of state can embody and represent our values and traditions, our experience and contemporary aspirations, our cultural diversity and social complexity in a way that a British monarch who is also head of state of fifteen other member countries of the United Nations - can no longer adequately hope to do.

~ Hon. Paul J. Keating, former Australian Prime Minister

We need to be in every case, including the symbolic one, our own masters. It is why the affirmation of our nationhood is central to our psychology.

~ Hon. Paul J. Keating, former Australian Prime Minister

How much better would it be if the person who was our real head of state were appointed on merit instead of landing the job because she was born to the right family? Frankly, the Queen of England does not strike me as the most interested, concerned or dynamic head of state we could have. Instead, replacing the monarchy with a New Zealander who represents the values and vision of the nation we are, and want to be, means leadership rather than installing a simple figurehead.

~ Former New Zealand Cabinet Minister Deborah Morris

Is New Zealand to continue to have an appointed Governor-General as our head of state, or should we move to an elected president? ... It is my view -- it is a personal view not the Government's view -- that the momentum for change will gather as we identify more with our Asia-Pacific region of the world and as our direct links to Britain decline. But the big reason will be that we want to be independent New Zealanders.

~ Jim Bolger, Former New Zealand Prime Minister

Over time, I’m on the public record as saying it is inevitable that New Zealand will change its constitution and become a republic.

~ Helen Clark, New Zealand Prime Minister

The throne is the symbol of oppression. The throne represents the power of caste. Round the throne gather the unwholesome parasites. The toady who crawls through the mire of self-abasement to enable him to bask in the smile of royalty is a victim of a diseased organism.

~ Keir Hardie, Founder of the Scottish Labour Party on the subject of the 1897 jubilee.

"No title of Nobility shall be granted."

~ Article 1 of the Constitution of the United States of America

In no circumstances would Canada consent to the granting of an honour which carries a title. (Titles) are not compatible with the ideas of democracy as they have developed in Canada.

~ Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair prior to the planned knighthood of two Canadian citizens

We will need to cleanse our public political culture of antiquated remnants . . . Titles suggestive of rank, as America’s Founding Fathers recognised, are incompatible with a Citizen Nation pledged to equality.

~ Linda Colley, Leverhulme Research Professor in History at The London School of Economics and Political Science

Returning to the problem of theory, we now have a perspective for understanding the absence of intellectual concern about monarchy. Middle-brow Guardian reflection functions to preserve the national totem-system; the sense of proportion thus expressed is then refracted upwards to the high-brow or academic sphere as simple avoidance – an integrated intellectual élite’s chosen form of allegiance. Hence the remarkable result: the British Monarchy, one of the sociological wonders of the contemporary world, Europe’s greatest living fossil, the enchanted glass of an early modernity which has otherwise vanished from the globe, has received next to no attention from British social theory. Even more to the point, such attention as it has got consists mainly of acts of worship rather than examination.

~ Tom Nairn, Author and Professor of Sociology & Political Science, University of Edinbourgh & Monash University, from the section titled ‘The Sociology of Grovelling’ in his book ‘The Enchanted Glass: Britain and its Monarchy’

The glories of our blood and state are shadows, not substantial things.

There is no armour against fate; Death lays his icy hands on kings: 

Sceptre and crown 

must tumble down, 

And in the dust be equal made 

with the poor crooked scythe and spade.

~ James Shirley, Elizabethan poet and playwright

In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only) but the world in blood and ashes. 'Tis a form of government which the word of God bears testimony against, and blood will attend it.

~ Thomas Paine, Author and American revolutionary in ‘Common Sense’, 1776

Or maybe the awful truth is that we have not fully grown up as a country, and still need the crutch of
another country's institutions to lean on.

~ Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail, April 2, 2002

What a terrible insult the Act of Settlement is to the Canadian people, with such discrimination rooted in a three hundred year old law that is offensive and demeaning. I have often wondered how such blatant discrimination, which undermines basic human rights, can still be enshrined in law and still applies in Canada as well. Imagine the head of state of Canada, by English law, cannot be a Catholic! It speaks volumes about the foundations of our country and our inability to cope with the very basics of democracy. And it questions our maturity as a nation and how we can exist with such imported intolerance at the very fabric of nationhood. 

~ Tony O’Donohue, former Toronto Alderman and Metro Councillor. O’Donohue is taking the federal government to court to prove the Act of Settlement is in conflict with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"The are like walking corpses, the standard-bearers - or rather, the pallbearers - of a world view preserved in pickle brine and withered elitiism. Let’s get one thing straight. Royalty exists only through an act of wilful ignorance on the part of their subjects. Call it a suspension of common sense."

Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians

"The truth is that the monarchy stands for much that has held Canada back. It embodies the triumph of inheritance over merit, of blood over brains, of mindless ritual over innovation. The monarchy reminds us to defer to authority and remember our place. In Quebec, the Royals are regarded as an insult.

Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, February 2001

See also Quotations By and About the Royals 




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