British Queen Elizabeth II, whose equestrian statue is next to the Parliament Buildings, still retains a ceremonial role in the Canadian system, nominally as Head of State, but has no real power. She is represented in Canada by the Governor General, who is chosen by the Prime Minister. The Governor General, as acting Head of State in the Queen's absence, has a non-political, ceremonial role, even though some recent governors general have been former politicians. In theory, the Governor General must give approval for any legislation to become law, but this is a mere formality -- withholding this approval would be viewed as undemocratic and unacceptable. The monarchy is a remnant of a bygone age when Canada was more closely associated with Britain, and some have suggested removing it from Canada's system to better reflect modern Canada's multicultural make-up. These suggestions usually bring howls of outrage from fiercely loyal monarchist organizations, typically representing older Canadians of British ancestry. As the subject is controversial and the Queen holds no real power, Canada is unlikely to abolish the monarchy until other countries -- such as Australia or even Britain -- do it first.

1999 Richard McGuire

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