The Republic of Canada

Charles Pascal argues that it’s time for Canada to ditch the monarchy and go republican. I find it striking, though, that he doesn’t actually have a specific proposal for how Canada ought to pick its head of state. The current system is that the Queen selects a Governor-General to be “her representative” in Canada, and does so “on the advice” of the Canadian Prime Minister. Since in practice the Queen’s assent is a pure formalism, you could easily cut her out of the process and replace the Governor-General with a President appointed by the Prime Minister.

But it’s not clear to me what problem of democratic legitimacy that solves. If anything, it creates a metaphysically somewhat weird situation in which the head of state is an appointee of the head of government that having him be formally speaking the appointee of the monarch avoids.


Ultimately, I think these kind of situations call for a Burkean caution. Lots of political arrangements only withstand a limited quantity of direct scrutiny. But there’s a real practical problem with the US Electoral College that the National Popular Vote works as a solution to. If the problem with the monarchy is the fiscal cost, which seems to be Pascal’s main concrete complaint, then this seems more easily addressed through budget cuts. The British monarchy is unusually expensive compared to the others of Europe so there’s plenty of room for economizing.