A majority of Canadians now believe that when Queen Elizabeth II dies and Prince Charles ascends to the throne, Canada should cut ties with the monarchy.
A new poll, conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Global News, has revealed that 53 per cent of us think it may soon be time to bid farewell to the monarch as our head of state.
That’s the highest number recorded since 2010, noted Sean Simpson, vice-president of Ipsos Public Affairs, and a 10-point jump since last September — when Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, were visiting Canada with their children.
The numbers make sense, Simpson said, when you consider all of the major royal milestones over the last five years. There’s been a wedding, the births of two children (including a likely future king), the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and two royal tours of Canada by Will and Kate.
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“Almost every year there’s a big function, a big celebration, which tends to inflate support for the Queen and the monarchy,” Simpson said.
“Polls that we tend to do about the monarchy are done around these exciting times, so we actually capture inflated (support) … we thought it might be interesting to run the survey now at the end of the year when there’s nothing particular happening in the news that would have Canadians excited.”
Calls to dump the monarchy were, as usual, loudest in Quebec, where 73 per cent of respondents said the links to Britain should be severed upon the Queen’s death — compared to between 44 and 51 per cent in all the other provinces.
The sentiments in Quebec are rooted in hundreds of years of history, Simpson said.
“It goes all the way to the Plains of Abraham. French Canada was essentially conquered by English Canada, so Quebecers are in a sense ruled by a monarch that historically they didn’t support.”
But Canadian monarchists concerned that there is now enough of a “critical mass” of people who oppose continuing under British rule to prompt changes to the Constitution can probably relax, Simpson added.
“We’ve got two very different stories. We’ve got three-quarters of Quebecers who believe this should be the case, but that means support in the rest of the country is at half, or less.”
On top of that, the challenges of re-opening the Constitution and making fundamental changes to our system of government remain prohibitive, he said.
The effect of ‘The Crown’
Ipsos also asked several questions linked to the Netflix series The Crown, which was released in Canada last month.
The series follows the Queen through the death of her father, King George VI, and into the first years of her reign, highlighting the personal and political challenges associated with serving as monarch.
Of the 13 per cent of respondents who watched the show, in whole or in part, 88 per cent said they believe the Queen has done a good job in her role as monarch, compared to 80 per cent of those who hadn’t seen the series.
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Three-quarters of those who have seen the series agreed that the constitutional monarchy helps to define Canadian identity and should continue to be our form of government, and that Will and Kate will help keep the monarchy relevant.
Those figures are much higher than those recorded among Canadians who hadn’t watched The Crown.
“There’s two things that could be happening,” Simpson said.
“One is that people who are predisposed to liking the monarchy are more likely to watch the show … the other theory is that people who watch the show are more likely to be supportive of Queen Elizabeth as a result of watching the show. That also, too, is plausible.”
Interestingly, those who have seen the series were no more or less likely to agree that Canada should end its ties to the monarchy when the Queen’s reign ends.
Elizabeth II is now the longest-reigning British monarch in history, and at 90, has begun passing along some of her duties to younger members of the family. Experts believe it highly unlikely she will ever abdicate, however.
The Queen’s overall approval rating remained high in this latest poll, with eight in 10 Canadians agreeing that she has done a good job in her role as monarch. That’s down from 84 per cent around her 90th birthday, but still up from the 73 per cent recorded in June 2010.
This poll was conducted between Dec. 15 and Dec. 21, 2016, with a sample of 3,004 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel who were interviewed online. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ – 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.