Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that now is not the time for “diving into constitutional negotiations” about Canada’s ties with the British Crown.
Mr. Trudeau made the remarks Friday as Buckingham Palace prepares for the King’s coronation in London next Saturday, which Mr. Trudeau will attend along with Governor-General Mary Simon.
Speaking at a news conference in New York, where he is holding talks on trade and investment, the Prime Minister acknowledged that some Canadians favour ending Canada’s constitutional monarchy. But he said that those wanting to cut ties with the monarchy have not yet come up with a better alternative to having the King as head of state.
“There are obviously a number of people who feel that a different system would serve us better,” he said. “Those people can make those arguments but what those people can’t do is agree on what alternative would be better.”
In 2021, Barbados severed ties with the monarchy, removing the Queen as its head of state, and Mauritius became a republic within the Commonwealth in 1992.
But Mr. Trudeau said there are other “really big issues” the government is dealing with, including climate change, rather than dealing with constitutional negotiations.
He added that Canada has one of the “most stable democracies in the world.”
Michael Wernick, the former head of the federal public service – who also was a senior official in constitutional affairs – said revisiting the issue “would drain energy away from more urgent and important challenges.”
He also said it would require amending the Constitution, which would be fraught with difficulty and would have to be agreed upon by Parliament and all ten provinces.
A poll for the Angus Reid Institute showed that 52 per cent of Canadians do not want the country to continue as a constitutional monarchy for generations to come and think King Charles will be a worse monarch than his mother, Elizabeth. (The online survey was conducted from April 5-7 among a randomized sample of 1,607 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. A probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)
On Friday, the King attended a ceremony with the Mounties at Windsor Castle where he accepted the honorary position of RCMP Commissioner in Chief and was presented with a ceremonial RCMP sword.
His mother became the first person to take on the role after being appointed at her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme and the High Commissioner for Canada Ralph Goodale were at the ceremony where the King was given a Royal Salute by four Mounties who travelled to Britain to take part in the coronation procession.
The Mounties, including Riding Master Scott Williamson, are to ride ahead of the King and Queen Consort in the procession, which will also include members of the Canadian Armed Forces. They will march with other members of the military from Commonwealth countries.
The Mounties, in their distinctive red uniforms, will be riding horses the RCMP had given to the Queen as well as Noble, a stunning black mare given to the King last month.
At the RCMP ceremony Friday, the King was formally presented with the 7-year-old mare and rubbed her nose. The plan is for the King to ride her during the Trooping of the Colour, continuing the tradition of the Queen riding RCMP horses to the inspection of the troops. He currently rides the RCMP horse George, which is approaching retirement.
In 1969, the RCMP gave the late Queen a jet-black horse, called Burmese, which would become her favourite.
The Queen was riding the mare in 1981, on the way to the trooping-of-the colour parade, when a man in the crowd fired six shots, which turned out to be blanks, at the Queen. The horse had been trained by the RCMP in Saskatchewan to remain calm if exposed to gunfire, and, though startled, did not bolt.