Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has posited that his country is not “preoccupied” with the possibility of constitutional change as Prince Charles and his wife Camilla tour the country this week.
“When I hear from Canadians about the things they’re preoccupied about, and the things they want their governments to work on, it’s not about constitutional change,” Trudeau told Geo News.
Charles and Camilla’s visit, which began on Tuesday in the eastern province of Newfoundland, comes as the popularity of the British monarchy has suffered in Canada and elsewhere. In a poll conducted in April, 51 percent of Canadians said that the constitutional monarchy should be abandoned in the coming generations — a six point increase from 2020.
The island nation of Barbados moved to sever ties with the monarchy and become a republic last year, and a number of other Caribbean nations are considering following suit. Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton visited three of those countries in March to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee, but the trip was recieved poorly.
Canada’s geopolitical position and relationship with the UK is different than that of the Carribbean nations, but republicanism is nevertheless ascendant.
Canada has not been a British colony since 1867, but it has remained a part of the British Commonwealth, with a governor-general appointed to represent the British monarchy. The office of the governor-general, with the British monarchy itself, is the oldest active settler colonial institution in the country.
The brutality of Canada’s settler colonialism was thrust into the national and international spotlight last year when the remains of thousands of Indigenous children were discovered in mass graves at or near the sites of church-run residential schools that operated between 1831 and 1996 to forcibly assimilate Indigenous Canadian children into the dominant, British-aligned culture.
Charles and Camilla’s tour through the country, ostensibly to celebrate the platinum jubilee, is heavily focused on recognizing the atrocies inflicted upon Indigenous Canadians in the name of the crown. The royal representatives attended an Indigenous smudging ceremony on Tuesday and also visited the Heart Garden in the Newfoundland capital of St. John’s dedicated to the victims of the residential schools.
In an speech delivered in both English and French on Tuesday, Prince Charles said that the monarchy must take responsibility for its actions.
“We must find new ways to come to terms with the darker and more difficult aspects of the past, acknowledging, reconciling and striving to do better,” he said. “It is a process that starts with listening. My wife and I look forward to listening to you, and learning.”