Why does Canada recognize the Queen of the United Kingdom as its head of state?
Author: Waqas Rafiq
The Queen of the United Kingdom is recognized as the head of state in Canada. This can be a bit confusing for some people, as Canada is its own country. So why does it have a monarchy? And why does the Queen hold this position? Let’s take a closer look at this unique relationship!
The Controversial History of Canada’s Monarchy
For centuries, the land that is now Canada was inhabited by Indigenous peoples. In the 1500s, European explorers began claiming the land for their respective countries. The French established colonies in what is now Quebec and Acadia, while the British setup colonies in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In 1759, the British defeated the French in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which marked the beginning of British rule in Canada.
For most of Canada’s colonial history, the country was under British rule. As such, the head of state was the monarch of the United Kingdom. This changed in 1867 when Canada became a self-governing Dominion within the British Empire. However, the monarch remained the head of state.
In 1867, the British North America Act created the Dominion of Canada as a self-governing entity within the British Empire. However, the Act maintained that the Dominion was subject to and bound by the Constitution of the United Kingdom. This meant that even though Canadians were given control over their own country, they were still technically under British rule. In 1931, the Statute of Westminster granted full legal autonomy to Canada and other Commonwealth realms, making the Canadian monarchy independent from Britain for the first time.
Self-Government and Confederation
While the Canadian monarchy is a constitutional one, meaning the Queen doesn’t have any real power, she is still considered the head of state. This is because, when Canada was first founded, it was a colony of the British Empire. And even after Confederation in 1867, the Canadian government wanted to maintain ties with Britain. So, they kept the monarchy as a way to do that. Over time, though, there has been much debate about whether or not Canada should keep the monarchy.
The Statute of Westminster 1931, Accession to Throne Act 1937, and Letters Patent 1947
The Statute of Westminster 1931 granted full political independence to the Dominions of the British Empire, including Canada. The Accession to Throne Act 1937 confirmed that any changes to the succession of the Canadian throne would require the unanimous consent of the Canadian Parliament. The Letters Patent 1947 declared that Elizabeth II would be Queen of Canada even after she ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom, making her the first Canadian monarch.
In modern times, the monarchy in Canada is largely a symbolic role. The monarch does not have any political power and is not involved in the day-to-day running of the government. However, the queen or king is still considered the head of state and represents Canada on official visits abroad and at home.
Where We Stand Today
Though the monarchy has been a controversial topic throughout Canadian history, today most Canadians view it as a symbol of our country’s rich heritage. While some may see the Queen as a reminder of our colonial past, others see her as a sign of stability and tradition. Regardless of how you feel about the monarchy, there’s no denying that it plays an important role in Canadian society.