Open Letter Argues Why Oath of Allegiance to King of England Is Unconstitutional
On October 22, the Journal de Montréal published an open letter from the National Council of the Quebec Laicity Movement which gives the views of those who espouse the modern democratic principle that taking an oath to the King of England is a matter of conscience as well as unconstitutional because the Quebec state must not be religious in any way. For the information of our readers, we are publishing the text below, translated from the original French by TML.
Oath to the King of England Is Unconstitutional
Inherited from the Conquest and British colonialism which followed, the “oath of allegiance to His Majesty” that MNAs must swear to is contrary to Quebec’s charter of rights and freedoms as well as the Canadian Constitution of 1982.
In the name of the principle of equality of all before the law, these two fundamental laws prohibit any discrimination, and therefore any privilege, exercised or granted on the basis of religious affiliation.
King Charles III, like his predecessors, holds the official religious title of “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.” This title dates back to King Henry VIII and notably bestows on him the privilege of appointing bishops, including of Canterbury, the primate of the Anglican Church. According to the affirmation engraved on Canadian coinage, the monarch is also said to be “king by the grace of God” (dei gratia regina or dei gratia rex).
By entrusting the office of head of state to a monarch who exercises religious functions and who is necessarily Anglican under British laws foreign to us, Canadian legislation governing the monarchy derogates from the principle of equality of all citizens contained in our charters.
The British-Canadian king thus enjoys privileges based on his national origin, blood relationship and religion, privileges which are prohibited for Canadian citizens. The appointment of such a head of state clearly violates the principle of equality of all and constitutes an unacceptable intrusion of religion in the running of the state.
Anti-Laicity Royalist Oath
The swearing of the oath by MNAs to such a king is part of the same institutional violation of our fundamental rights, which are republican in nature. Moreover, Quebec’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our law on laicity affirm the laic character of the Quebec state. That representatives of a laic state are subject to a religious monarch whose only legitimacy is that conferred by a god is highly revealing of the contradictory and obsolete nature of the Canadian monarchy.
We therefore believe that the elected members of the Quebec National Assembly are not required to submit to this false, archaic, colonialist and illegitimate oath, which perpetuates the supremacy of a foreign monarch. In the name of the values of equality, laicity and the sovereignty of the people, this oath must be abrogated as soon as possible, along with the monarchy to which it is linked.
The argument that there are more urgent things to settle is inadmissible. This issue has resurfaced during every election over the past 40 years, and a simple motion to suspend the requirement of the royalist oath, pending its repeal, would take parliamentarians no more than 10 minutes.
By doing nothing in the name of this false claim, elected members are not only maintaining an illegitimate practice, but are also sending the message that an oath has no value and is even a gross lie.
Marilou Alarie, Joseph Aussedat, Daniel Baril, Yoland Bergeron, Micheline Boucher Granger, Philippe Dujardin, Lucie Jobin, Yvan Lamonde, Éric Ouellet, Noëlle Tannou for the National Council of the Quebec Laicity Movement