An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
NINETEEN WORDS are being added to the Oath of Allegiance. A bill is working its way through the Parliamentary process that would add recognition of our indigenous peoples.
So far, it looks like it will go through without much, if any, objection or tinkering. Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod — who is the Conservatives’ shadow minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations — pointed out during debate this week that the Oath hasn’t been changed in 40 years.
The proposed change would insert the words after reference to the laws of Canada, “including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples….”
It’s a bit awkward, and reads a little like a last-minute thing but, in fact, it’s been in the works for several years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended it. Words are important, and if these ones will help resolve some of the historic concerns of indigenous people then it’s worth doing.
But if we’re going to change the wording of the Oath, why stop there? Consider, for example, the opening sentence, to which no change is currently proposed: “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors….”
I consider myself a Monarchist in that I see value in maintaining our historic connection with the British monarchy but do we really need to continue pledging allegiance to the Queen, her heirs and successors?
Elizabeth II is “Queen of Canada” in name only. She no longer symbolizes us. We need an oath that swears true allegiance to Canada, our home, the country that nurtures us, rather than to the British monarch.
We should honour and love the Queen, and maintain strong ties with our British heritage, but that doesn’t need to be included in the Oath. Make the Oath about Canada.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.