The Crown Demeaned

After  years of demeaning Parliament, Harper has finally managed to demean the Crown.  His tool this time was yesterday’s Speech from the Throne.  By halfway through I was almost nauseous.  Let me explain.

I understand full well that it is traditional for the Speech to be written by the Government of the day and read by the Governor General or, in Britain, by the Queen herself.  And I understand that the Government will want to reassure the people that all has been well and will be well.  Sure.  It’s ceremony.  It’s theatre. It’s politics. But yesterday’s effort went over the top into farce.

The opening litany of praise for dear old Canada pretty well set the stage with its series of elegiac passages each beginning, “Consider this –“.  We were to consider that Canada is inclusive, honourable, selfless, smart, and caring, not a single word of which applies to the Harper Government that has been doing its best to undermine all those attributes.

Now it is also my understanding that the Crown holds all power in trust for the people, from whom that power comes.  The Prime Minister is the Crown’s First Minister and, sure, the Government that he or she leads is the Crown’s Government — ours.  So fine, when the G.G. says “our” he is using the Royal “we”, speaking for the Crown, which is the people.  But watch where this took us.

It took us to a passage where the G.G. assured us that “Two and a half years ago,  Canadians gave our Government a strong mandate…”   Think about that.  Here is the old mandate canard in full bloom.  But the man, David Johnson, is smart and educated.  He knows full well that when only 38% of voters cast ballots for a Party (actually only 25% of eligible voters) then that is not a mandate given by the people but a mandate given by an illogical electoral system.  But as David Johnson the Governor General he has to sit there and mouth the nonsense that “Canadians gave our Government a strong mandate”.

Then the “our” business continued on in a paean of praise telling us how the Government has been making Canada first among nations in a multitude of ways, all of which are debatable points and should not be forced as facts from the mouth of the Crown’s representative.   And here’s the rub.  As His Excellency, David Johnson put so much feeling into it, read so sincerely, smiled so reassuringly, that the hypocrisy of the whole exercise was magnified.  Now there’s a paradox for you.  He did the job so well that it reeked of malarkey.  Not his malarkey.  Harper malarkey.

The camera’s predilection for close shots of Harper didn’t help.  The P.M. was focused so intently on the G.G. that I found myself looking to see if the puppeteer’s lips were moving.

No Governor General should have to sit there and mouth as facts an unadulterated list of debatable points.  It demeans the intelligence and office of the person who delivers it and of those who listen to it.  I would suggest that in the future the Governor General should rebel by simply inserting a simple word or two.  In the future when forced to parrot a Government’s perceived virtues of itself let him or her say, “Our Government says…” “Our Government claims…” “Our Government avers … ”  “Our Government believes…”

The G.G. has to read the twaddle but he shouldn’t have to appear to believe it.  Let the Crown come out of it with integrity intact.  Not easy to do with a Harper Throne Speech.


About Munroe Scott

Munroe Scott is a veteran of the freelance writing world.
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7 Responses to The Crown Demeaned

  1. Dave Valentine says:

    Absolutely agree, Munroe! A farce of the first order…

  2. Jean Koning says:

    VEry Good words, Munroe – but I’m not entirely sure that the GG didn’t actaully believe the words he was speaking – That stuff about a “smart” Canada was mouthed by David Johnston at the time he was appointed GG so I think they may be his words which suggests to me that he had a hand (or word) in composing that Throne Speech – or at lest that “smart, caring” part – which we all know is hardly the truth of this particular government.

    • Munroe Scott says:

      You may very well be correct, Jean. But I must say the idea of the “Crown” actually helping to compose such a political speech makes the whole thing even more demeaning. And if the G.G. really does believe all that stuff then we’re in even deeper doodoo than I thought.

  3. Lionel Strange says:

    I did not watch the Speech from the Throne, Munroe, but I have gathered from your blog and from comments in the press that it was the usual exercise in pre-electoral advertising and posturing, but nevertheless presented with charming grace and skill by the Governor General. However, your blog has , as it always does, triggered my mind to consideration of how the speech from the throne could be used with real worthwhile purpose.
    The average citizen,and I am about as average as they come,will on occasion sit down and try to list and grade in importance the problems that the country faces in the short medium and long terms,and ponder what governments, at all levels are , or should be,planning to do about them.
    In its present mode, the throne speech is simply an implement of political gamesmanship constructed to do three things: satisfy existing supporters, bribe possible converts and weaken any possible opposition coalitions. The actions that are forecasted in the speech are mostly of a short term and localized nature and aimed at achieving the aforementioned objectives.
    I would suggest that the speech which we now entitle “Speech from the Throne” should be amalgamated with the budget speech and presented by the prime Minister or the Minister of finance. The new speech from the throne should be composed and presented by the Governor General and should be in the form of “a state of the nation” The Governor General should be entitled to hire experts in various fields to advise and assist him. He would be expected to give us a broad based assessment of the problems of the future and what he thought we should do about them.
    I realize of course that such a change of procedure would inevitably be out of the question on constitutional and other legal grounds ,but i like the idea .All the best Lionel.

    • Munroe Scott says:

      Lionel, thank you so much for this. Your summing up of the current use of the Speech from the Throne as “an implement of political gamesmanship” could not be more bang on, and of course is why I object to the Crown being forced to play. Your recommendation is great. (I’m tempted to say “brilliant”but that might disabuse folk about your average citizen hogwash.) A constitutional battle to implement your suggestion would be well worth the hassle. Anything to prevent us having to listen to Conservative talking points even from the Throne. Think of it. Without such a change, at some point in time the G.G. might be Pierre Polievre.

  4. Edward Smith says:

    P.P for G.G…. are we to be spared nothing?

  5. Earle Gray says:

    If I threw up every time the Harper government made my stomach churn I’d never be able to keep any food down. I was delayed in reading this while recovering from a cataract operation to my left eye–but it’s another outstanding. Another thing that churns my stomach is Harper’s abandonment of any support for the International Criminal Court, a much needed institution established largely by Canada but now under attack and in danger of being sidelined when those responsible for the Syrian war crimes are eventually brought to justice. Sixty four nations–Britain, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand among them–have called for the perps to be prosecuted by the ICC, but the Harper government refused to join them and says not a word in Defence of the ICC, displaying his contempt for anything to do with the UN.

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