Bernier can’t identify our Head of State

Our nation’s lack of civic literacy truly has reached crisis proportions when ministers of the Crown can’t even identify the very basic parts of our system of government. I’ve written before about the public’s general lack of understanding of the Canadian monarchy, and our need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that the monarchy is somehow “foreign” because the Queen doesn’t live in the country full-time. It’s an issue of education and awareness. I get it.

But when a minister of the Crown can’t even make this distinction, there is a problem. And a really big one at that.

In Question Period on Thursday, the very last question of the day was given to Bloc MP Louis Plamondon, who gave a fairly typical republican Bloc question.

“Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives clearly cannot do enough for the Queen of England. After unveiling a $100,000 portrait, they are now making a big fuss about a trust with a solely English name, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

While they are making cuts to international aid and penalizing recognized humanitarian aid organizations, the Conservatives are putting $20 million into a Queen’s trust.

Instead of piling on monarchy-related initiatives, why does the government not simply increase the existing international aid envelopes?”

Bad enough that Plamondon refers to the Queen of Canada as the “Queen of England” – never mind that the title of King or Queen of England hasn’t existed since 1707 – but hey, the Bloc likes to make dubious links to colonial holdovers for their own revisionist version of history.

But then Maxime Bernier responded with this:

“Mr. Speaker, as we know, Canada is a democratic country with a parliamentary system, and under the Constitution, Canada’s head of state is the Queen of England. Unlike the Bloc Québécois, we are not ashamed that the Queen is our head of state.

We know that the Bloc Québécois would like to destroy this country and make Quebec an independent country. That is not—”

At which point, Stéphane Dion began shouting “Queen of Canada! She’s the Queen of Canada!” cutting Bernier off and causing the Speaker to name him as being disruptive, even though he was perfectly correct – and dare I say obligated – to make the distinction.

But there you have it – a minister of the Crown cannot even recognise that the Head of State for this country is the Queen of Canada, that there has been a separate monarchy since the Statute of Westminster in 1931, nor can he even articulate what a constitutional monarchy is.

It’s bad enough that we have opposition parties that are promulgating falsehoods as to the reality of our political system and who our Head of State is, let alone allowing the government to politicise the Crown for partisan gain. It’s another when the cabinet itself can’t even get it right and are being allowed to go virtually unchallenged.