Wednesday, June 05, 2002

How'd Ya Like Me Now, Mr. Timms?

Mr. Timms was the principal of Elora Senior Public School and my grade 7 math teacher. He didn't care much for my smart-ass attitude and I'm sure he never thought I'd amount to much.

I'm not offering anything to prove him wrong, but someone did like a piece I wrote!

The Canada Lutheran published a 500 word article of mine titled "Hooked On...Church." In short, I said that, in the same way Classical Music had more to offer than its poorer, more popular 'hooked on' cousin of the 80s revealed, so to does the Church have a richness and mystery greater than 'community church' populist piety suggests.

And sure, only a handful of Canadian, ELCIC Lutherans will read it. Still, for the first time ever in my life, I Got Published!!

I'll enjoy it now before I'm lambasted in next month's 'letters to the editor' section. Maybe Mr. Timms will write to correct my grammar.
Ought We Pray "God Save the Queen?"

Festivities around the Commonwealth these past few days have served, not only to honour the monarchy and the 50 year reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, but to raise questions about the value of the institution she represents. My brother has offered one point of view. I offer another.

On the one hand, the monarchy portrays the best of British culture and tradition: civility, grace, the respect of democratic values and individual freedom, and loyalty to tradition and history. I would even hold up the Sovereign's role as head of the Church of England as symbolic of our culture's awareness of something 'wholey other' - that is, the best of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

On the other hand, the British Monarchy also represents the worst of the West: political, cultural, and economic imperialism; classism; and patriarchy - remember, she's only the Sovereign because her father had no boys!

Individually any of these characteristics out weigh the good that she might do, but put them together and add the pomposity inherent in the position and we (Canadians) should have sufficient reason to oust the institution from our midst.

Still, I could live with the institution and its flaws if it weren't for what I see as its greatest flaw - racism.

As it stands now, the Sovereign will always be a person of caucasian race from Europe. Because the position is determined through blood-lines, there can never be accomodation for the Sovereign to come from any other Commonwealth nation other than England. An African may be as loyal to the crown as any Brit, but neither they nor their children can ever hope to wear it. Why? Simply because of race. And that is why I cannot respect the institution.

Let's elect the Sovereign of the Commonwealth.

I am happy to change nothing in the figure-head status of the monarchy except for this one thing. Let's do away with the racist and backward notion of setting up rulers on the throne based on the accident of their birth, and elect our figure-head. Every citizen of the Commonwealth gets a vote - and everyone is eligable. Let them sit there for 12 - 15 years to give the position some measure of significance. Give them Buckingham Palace, the personel, the gold-plated carriages. And let's save England some money - each Commonwealth nation could contribute to the cost of the monarchy according to their population and resources.

Then, let's give them a voice that speaks something other than platitudes - one that speaks out for things like peace and justice and all those good things mentioned above (although we need to re-think the whole C of E thing). And let's get them on the road, visiting and talking to people outside of England. Let's really make them representative of the best of the Commonwealth.

Then I might be willing to pray, "God save the Queen."

What About Canada?

Trevor makes a good point when he asks, "How would an elected official be better than a hereditary-royal at being head-of-state of Canada? Do I want my Prime Minister being the sole head of the county as well (like the Americans)? I don't really want another politically minded person in that position."

Neither do I want the Prime Minister to be the sole head of state. In fact, I'd wouldn't mind seeing the power of the Prime Minister's Office and that of the House of Commons taken down a peg or two.

While I don't really expect to see the Commonwealth electing its Sovereign in the near future, Canadians could at least elect it's Govenor General and Senate.

How about this model?
It seems to me that one of the problems with the Prime Minister's Office and the House of Commons is that they are so short-sighted, they can't see past the next election. Therefore, let's elect senators to sit for a nine year period (so they can think a little more long-term) and hold elections every three years to replace 1/3 of the house. To remove some of the partisan nature of the Senate, allow members only one term in office.

As for the Govenor General, elect them to a 10 - 12 year single term in office. I don't see them having the same powers as the American President - for example, I don't think the Govenor General should have a veto. But it wouldn't be such a bad thing to have bills returned to Commons a little (a lot) more often. Take away the rubber stamp, but don't replace it with the power of the military.

Sounds a lot like the Alliance Triple E Senate, doesn't it? I guess I have some sympathy with their position, but I think my suggestions might take some of the politics out of the picture - or at least water it down a little.

So, God save the House of Commons, the Senate, the Govenor General and (what the heck) the Queen too.