As King Charles III is crowned this weekend, an increasing number of Canadians say it’s a very good or good time for Canada to open the Constitution and discuss cutting ties with the British monarchy, according to a new poll.
In the Nanos Research poll for The Globe and Mail, 33 per cent of respondents said it was a very good time and 17 per cent said it was a good time for the discussion, up from 22 per cent and 16 per cent in a poll in October.
The latest survey also found that almost three in five Canadians support (36 per cent) or somewhat support (20 per cent) Canada cutting ties with the monarchy and having the prime minister serve as both the head of government and the head of state, thus replacing the King and his representative in Canada, the governor-general. Those numbers too are up from an October finding of 27 per cent and 17 per cent.
Nik Nanos, the chief data scientist at Nanos Research, said in a statement responding to questions that the issues raised by the poll could escalate if King Charles were to become embroiled in controversy.
“The key takeaway is that from a reputational perspective the King is on thin ice with a significant number of Canadians asserting now is an opportunity to rethink the monarchy,” Mr. Nanos wrote.
“The challenge for King Charles is the shadow of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, who has dominated the landscape and mindset of Canadians for 70 years. He needs to put his stamp on the institution and to reinforce the relevance of the British monarchy to the country.”
On cutting ties with the British monarchy, Governor-General Mary Simon recently told The Globe and Mail that she can foresee a day when Canada will have a “conversation” about its future as a constitutional monarchy, but now is not the right time.
“Over time, as we discuss difficult issues together, maybe those conversations will happen,” she said. “But I think Canada first of all has to have a plan and an alternative as to what it is we want as a country.”
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said, at a recent news conference, that now is not the time for “diving into constitutional negotiations” about Canada’s ties with the British Crown.
He said the government is busy dealing with other “really big issues,” including climate change.
He also noted that there is no consensus on what would happen were Canada to look at cutting ties to the monarchy.
“There are obviously a number of people who feel that a different system would serve us better. Those people can make those arguments, but what those people can’t do is agree on what alternative would be better.”
Errol Mendes, a lawyer, author and constitutional and international law professor, told The Globe’s podcast, The Decibel, on Friday that previous constitutional reform challenges in Canada suggest it would be impossible to meet the standard for cutting ties to the monarchy.
He was referring specifically to the failure to reach the unanimity required for the passage of the Meech Lake Accord in 1990 and the Charlottetown Accord in 1992.
It would take the agreement of all 10 provinces, the House of Commons and the Senate for a break with the monarchy to proceed.
Twenty-five per cent of respondents in the Nanos Research poll said King Charles will do a worse job than Queen Elizabeth, with 22 per cent saying he would do a somewhat worse job. Thirty-nine per cent said he would do about the same job, 3 per cent said he would do a somewhat better job, and 10 per cent were unsure.
Nanos Research conducted a hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,080 Canadians, 18 years of age and older, between April 30 and May 3 as part of an omnibus survey. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.