The Book!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Canadian Swearing


First official Canadian citizenship ceremony, 1947

I am no big fan of the Canadian monarchy, given that by statute Canadian kings may not be Catholics. I am no big fan of oaths. As nobody seems to notice, Jesus opposed them. As he said in the Sermon on the Mount,

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.[g] - Matthew 5.

I have no problem with the fact that half the current Liberal Cabinet took the option to “solemnly affirm” rather rather than the traditional oath to become members of Cabinet.

However, I am disturbed by the recent trend by new Canadian citizens to take the citizenship oath, then promptly disavow that part that requires allegiance to the Queen. Encouraged, it must be said, by the Supreme Court of Ontario.

To take an oath, then disavow it, is to render the oath meaningless. You were lying in taking it, and might just as easily disavow any other part of it. It is no longer an oath.

Moreover, allegiance to the monarchy is the heart of the oath. The Canadian citizenship oath in full, English version:

I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.

Omit allegiance to the Crown, and you are pledging allegiance to no one and nothing. Obeying the law and doing your duty as a citizen goes without saying; in any case, you risk going to prison if you do not. Remove the Crown, and the oath is meaningless.

There is a reason for the Monarchy to be so central to the oath. Legally, Canada exists not as a racial or ethnic entity, but as a possession of the Crown. This is a good thing, because Canada simply would not work as an ethnic state. It is as well that it is organized in this very different way, with allegiance not to an ethnic identity but to an individual and a family. The Crown, the monarch, is a personification of the state. To reject it is to reject something essential to Canada—in the end, as a legal matter, it is to reject Canada itself.

It is incumbent on immigrants, as well, to show their allegiance to a new country. In their case, divided loyalties are a natural and automatic concern. They ought not to feel they can pick and choose the bits of Canada they like. We ought not to be anyone's colony.


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