Canada has been in the news for a number of reasons lately. Globally, we have come to the forefront, though, as the new possible home of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
When the news of their potential departure from the Royal Family was released last week, the couple mentioned North America. Given that they had just spent a six-week vacation in Canada, it seemed a logical conclusion. However, The Queen’s statement, released on Monday, 13 January, specifically named Canada. We don’t know what it will look like but the Sussexes are set to be spending part of the year in Canada going forward. I’ve been seeing quite a range of thoughts and opinions here in Canada.
This is a difficult time for Canadians. The Sussexes released their press release and new website on the same day as the Ukrainian PS752 flight crash; the 176 passengers all perished, including 57 Canadians. We are still a country in mourning, and the Sussex announcement felt less important and ill-timed when it came out. Even now, as the world’s media focuses on Canada in relation to the Sussexes, many Canadians are asking why it is more important than the worrying information continually coming to light on the flight.
Now that the dust is beginning to settle, much of Canada is happy to have them come stay. It is seen as a good move for them as a family if it is what they want. We tend to be a more laid back country, and we might offer a more easy-going situation. There are some concerns about having the monarchy present here in Canada, when it is typically at an arms-length, but that seems to be much quieter.
There has been one poll suggesting that the majority of Canadians would support Harry as Governor General, but this has not been an overwhelming sentiment from anything I have seen or anyone I have spoken with. Since the 1950s, Canada’s Governor Generals have all been Canadian citizens, neither of which Harry or Meghan are. There is no set term for the position, but they typically serve five-year terms – current Governor General Julie Payette has only held the position since 2017. There isn’t a mechanism in place to remove her for Harry to take the role.
I also don’t know that he would want to. It would prove problematic representing The Queen if he visits other Commonwealth Nations. He also wouldn’t be able to split time between anywhere, he would need to reside in Canada (most likely Ottawa). It would also be just as limiting as his current position as both exist (in current state) to represent The Queen. I think that the world’s media has picked up on this story because of historical themes, but it is ill-fitting.
The other major question that Canadians have is who will foot the bill for security costs when they are living in Canada. It isn’t clear whether anything has been settled at all. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made non-committal statements of support but no specifics. The Minister of Finance publically stated that there have been no discussions or decisions. From what I have seen on socal media, in the media, and speaking with people, this is an important part of the issue for Canadians. If we are meant to pay for their security, we may see more anti-monarchy sentiments arising. That coupled with questions about immigration, visas, and taxes show some rankling.
Canadians are generally supportive of the Sussexes and are happy to welcome them, but we will need more concrete information to see a definitive sentiment either way.