Editorials - Sept. 16, 2022
A portrait in full
On Sept. 8, the reign of Queen Elizabeth II came to an end when she died at the age of 96 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. A bedrock for many since she came to the throne in 1952, the Queen became the subject of worry for many early in the day when reports surfaced of concern over her health. Members of the Royal Family then began making their way to her side and then, early that afternoon, came the news of her death.
All over Canada and throughout Huron County, Canadian flags flew at half-mast to mourn the loss, while many people in the U.K. have been beside themselves with grief, losing someone who has been part of people’s lives for so long. Many other reactions, however, have been much less complimentary, as people wrestle with difficult conversations about the dark side of the Monarchy.
In the wake of the Queen’s death, many media pundits and networks have sought to examine her legacy in full, honouring the leadership and sacrifice she showed over the course of her life, while also dissecting some of the less celebrated aspects of her legacy. Some members of the Black and Irish communities, for example, were not as quick to lionize the Queen upon her death, citing the Monarchy’s history of violence towards those communities and the history of colonialism, which has largely been eradicated in recent years, but clearly the scars remain.
Aside from historical controversies, England and its Royal Family have had their share of recent scandals, from 1972’s Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland to Princess Diana’s 1997 death to the more recent accusations levelled against Prince Andrew, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepping away from the Royal Family.
“Queen Elizabeth’s death not a time to ignore her complicated legacy,” said USA Today, while The Washington Post said “The ugly side of Queen Elizabeth’s legacy matters.” Even a column in the Toronto Star carried the headline, “Quiet opposition or colonial complicity? Elizabeth’s legacy as monarch.” Justifications for such think pieces have made the case that it’s fair to examine the full legacy of someone in such an extreme position of power and a representative of a body that has a complicated history with much of the world.
The Queen’s death, especially to many in Canada, is a tragedy. She has represented stability, grace and dignity in the eyes of most. However, that opinion is not shared by all and those voices, and the stories they tell, should be heard in the column inches of history. – SL
That’s certainly a choice
The Conservative Party of Canada had a choice to make over the weekend: whether to try and expand its power base through moderatism and give the Liberals and New Democrats a run for their money in the federal arena or rely on their rightest of right-wing supporters and hope a division of the party doesn’t follow. In selecting Pierre Poilivere as its leader, the party has chosen a divisive banner to rally behind, hoping that “Skippy’s” promises of freedom and limited government influence will attract the attention of voters. He trounced his nearest competition, Jean Charest, in the leadership race, suggesting that the Conservative Party isn’t interested in a moderate leader who can bridge a gap between hard-right voters and more centre-aligned voters.
Some are looking at Poilievre’s win as a huge step forward for the Conservatives after years of trouble following Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s departure after losing the 2015 election. Harper was followed by Andrew Scheer, who failed to make his party the top in the country. Scheer was followed by Erin O’Toole, who was voted out by his own caucus earlier this year. The big difference between Poilievre and his two predecessors is that each of them required multiple rounds of voting to be installed, while Poilievre was named the winner after dominating the first round of voting, taking 68 per cent of the vote and claiming almost all the ridings across the country. So, while the party may seem to be more aligned than it has since Harper, the politics could lead to a more divided Canada than ever before, especially with Poilievre pandering to disruptive elements across the country with promises of freedom.
There certainly has been a strong contingent of Canadians expressing a desire for “freedom”, like those involved in the illegal rally in Ottawa in February. Poilivere’s platform shares many of the same goals that the rally organizers espoused, suggesting that the Conservative Party, like its counterparts south of the border, is interested in populism as a means of winning political sway. The move, however, could come at the cost of losing undecided voters who are to the right of the spectrum, but not so far right as to support the behaviour drummed up by the aforementioned protests in Ottawa and subsequent regional demonstrations. It could also stop disillusioned Liberal voters from switching sides.
While some are confident that Poilievre could prove to be the Liberal Party’s undoing (and he himself has promised a revolution against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party), some of have said that his polarizing beliefs could help to galvanize centrist and left-wing voters, creating a difficult uphill climb come the next federal election. – JDS