The Guelph Mercury, Monday, January 29, 1996
EDITORIAL/Pledge of loyalty
Tinker, yes, but save the pieces
On her first day in office last Friday, Canada’s new citizenship minister managed to put herself
on the wrong side-the militant side of the Monarchist League of Canada.
That’s no monumental task, to be sure. Sooner or later it was bound to happen anyway. But
did Lucienne Robillard really have to start her new job by suggesting that now’s the time to prep the oath of allegiance for major surgery?
Frankly, it is high time to begin edging towards constitutional change of some sort again. But
the pledge of allegiance? To suggest at this early stage that the pledge of loyalty to the Queen
may have to go is questionable form, at the very least. It is virtually guaranteed to get backs
The current pledge of loyalty, taken by new Canadians, does not bind anyone to undying
support for the House of Windsor (including Di, Fergie and the boys), nor does it suggest some
sort of lingering English hold on Canadian loyalties. It is merely a formal way in which people
are asked to express respect for those Canadian government institutions without which there
would neither be a nation nor a common good. That those institutions still happen to derive
their formal authority from the Crown is a matter of both history and current arrangements. It
is useful to acknowledge that.
A major overhaul of some or all of those institutions may be long overdue, of course, and it’s
natural that Ms. Robillard, a Quebecer, should sense this. But if an overhaul is indeed overdue,
then let’s start by reforming the institutions and the way in which they fit together in a
On this occasion, at least, the Monarchist League has a useful piece of advice: it serves no
useful purpose to make substantial changes to the pledge of loyalty until we’ve made an
irreversible decision to ditch the monarchy and opt for some variation of the republican form
We’re a long way yet from making such a decision, and Ms. Robillard has certainly not been
appointed to make it on our behalf. But if she feels she must tinker with some of the
peripherals, she would be well advised to do it with extreme caution and diplomacy-and to
keep all the pieces.