Oath of Allegiance to the King Raised in House of Commons
On October 25, the issue of the oath of allegiance to Charles III as a prerequisite to sitting in the House of Commons was raised in the Federal House of Commons. Yves-François Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Québécois, said that as the debate was taking place in Quebec, he wanted to reopen the same debate in the federal Parliament. He did so by tabling a motion calling on the House “to debate and consider ending Canada’s relationship with the British monarchy.
The motion reads: That, given that,
(i) Canada is a democratic state,
(ii) this House believes in the principle of equality for all,
the House express its desire to sever ties between the Canadian State and the British monarchy, and call on the government to take the actions necessary to do so.
On October 26 the motion was voted on with 44 MPs voting in favour which included all of the Bloc MPs, 8 NDP MP’s, 1 Green MP and 1 independent.
Prior to the debate, representatives of the other parties in the House of Commons were quick to say that Canadians are concerned about inflation and the rising cost of living. Canada’s relationship with the British monarchy is not a priority, they said. Party leaders, except for the Bloc Québécois, said they do not intend to change the oath of allegiance to the British monarch for Members of Parliament.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “There is no intention here in the House of Commons to change the oaths of office.” Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, said, “Canada is a country where there is rule of law, that is the rule. So I’m comfortable with that.” He did not attempt to clarify the content of that rule of law. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada,said, “The oath is enshrined in our Constitution and is an ancient tradition of our parliamentary system. It is first and foremost an oath to our institutions and our democracy, of which the Sovereign is a part. Canadian courts have made it clear that it is not an oath to the individual, now King Charles III, but to the state he represents.” He also had nothing to say about that democracy which begs the question of what the oath means. Trudeau later added, despite all evidence to the contrary, “What I can tell you is that there is not one Quebecker who wants the Constitution reopened.”
On the question of whether Quebec has the right to change the oath of allegiance required to sit in the National Assembly under the Constitution Act, 1867, Trudeau said, “I don’t want to speculate on what the National Assembly can or cannot do. These swearings are governed by the Assembly and Parliament itself. The National Assembly has the right to decide how they want to organize their swearing-in process. It takes a bill, but for that, it takes MNAs who sit, who vote.”