December 4, 2014 11:20 pm
Updated: December 5, 2014 2:16 pm

Victoria’s new mayor decides not to pledge allegiance to the Queen

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There’s a different mayor in Victoria, and a different way of taking the oath of office too.

Lisa Helps was inaugurated as the new mayor of Victoria today, but she declined to take an allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.

“I have nothing against the Queen, but I do strongly support our Songhees and Esquimalt nations,” said Helps after the meeting.

“This is their territory, and if there’s anything to emphasize, it’s that.”

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Helps swore an oath of allegiance three years ago when she was sworn in as a city councillor, and four of seven councillors did the same this year. Marianne Alto, Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday joined Helps in declining to make the pledge, which isn’t mandatory.

The change may seem minor. But in a city named for a Queen – and a province named to celebrate her empire – the decision raised some eyebrows.

“I know a lot of monarchists voted for Lisa Helps, and they’re disappointed today,” said Bruce Hallsor of the Monarchist League of Canada.

“I’m pretty sure there’s more than 89 monarchists who voted for Lisa Helps who would not have voted for her if she had been upfront about our recent position,” he added, referencing Helps’ 89 vote victory over former mayor Dean Fortin in last month’s municipal elections.

READ MORE: Lisa Helps elected new Victoria mayor

For her part, Helps said the discussion is overblown.

“We’ve just had an amazing swearing in ceremony, and we’re focusing on who swore an oath and who didn’t, rather than what we’re going to do together for the next four years,” she said.

However, she argued it’s part of a new way of doing business in Victoria.

“One of the things that we need to do at the city of Victoria is not to do things the same way because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” she said.

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