restricted access The Evolving Canadian Crown ed. by Jennifer Smith and D. Michael Jackson (review)
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Reviewed by
Phillip Buckner, Professor Emeritus
Jennifer Smith and D. Michael Jackson (eds), The Evolving Canadian Crown (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2012), 250 pp. Paper. $29.95. ISBN 978-1-55339-202-6.

The royalists strike back. Based on a conference held in 2010 in the Canadian Senate, this book is meant to persuade Canadians 'to scrutinize more critically any allegedly easy options on offer to replace the Canadian Crown with something else' (p. 8). Indeed, the Harper government is given high praise for its recent efforts to promote monarchical symbols at home and abroad. One of the reasons the conference was held was concern over the dissolution and prorogation controversy of 2008-9. Three of the authors focus on this controversy, although they disagree on the proper role of the Governor General and offer conflicting opinions on how to avoid such controversies in the future. A number of the papers offer suggestions for increasing monarchical influence in Canada. D. Michael Jackson and Lynda M. Haverstock wish to strengthen the vice-regal authority of the lieutenant governors by selecting them from a list of names presented to the prime minister by a kind of 'college of elders' (p. 21) and by entitling those appointed to a twenty-one-gun salute. Paul Benoit believes that the way to increase the monarch's authority lies through the use of state ceremonies and that the installation of David Johnston as Governor General in 2010 provides a good example, though he admits that the 'only shortcoming of the ceremony was that it was not witnessed by many Canadians'. Bizarrely, he suggests that 'all Canadians should stop doing what they are ordinarily doing for two hours and take part in this secular religious ceremony' (pp. 132-3). Christopher McCreery believes that the central role of the crown in the Canadian honours system should be strengthened and that members of the royal family should be appointed to the Order of Canada in order to strengthen their credentials as 'Canadians'. Jacques Monet argues that another solution would be to bring the Queen (or Prince Charles or Prince William) to Canada 'more often, and on a regular, predictable basis' (p. 211) and to increase the length of tenure of the Governor General. Of course, none of these proposals is likely to be implemented and even if they were their impact would likely be marginal at best. At the Conference the Canadian royalists probably took heart at the papers by Peter Boyce and Noel Cox, who presented rather positive views of the future of the monarchy in Australia and New Zealand. But David E. Smith points to continuing Canadian ambivalence, not toward Canada's constitutional system, which most Canadians support, but toward the crown's role as Canadian head of state. So does Senator Serge Royal who discusses a number of factors which have led to the gradual reduction in power of the monarch, the most obvious of which are that the monarch does not reside in Canada, never will really be considered a Canadian and never can be an effective head of the Canadian state. The Canadian Crown is evolving but probably toward increasing irrelevancy. [End Page 104]

Phillip Buckner, Professor Emeritus
University of New Brunswick