Singh doesn't see the relevance of the monarchy
OTTAWA – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh doesn't see the relevance of Canada’s ties to the monarchy, but don’t expect him to push the issue.
"I don't see the relevance of it, and I don't think that most Canadians do," Singh said in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as the current head of state. However, it's a largely ceremonial role. The Queen's representative in Canada is the Governor General, who fulfills formal duties like signing bills into law, while the political position of power rests with the prime minister as the head of government.
Singh's comments were made in the context of the spending allowances for former governors general being under review, following it being revealed that past governor general Adrienne Clarkson has claimed more than $1 million since leaving Rideau Hall in 2005.
When asked whether he thought it was time to get rid of the governor general role and how he felt about the monarchy in general, Singh said he's a republican, rather than a monarchist.
Monarchists are considered staunch defenders of the importance of the monarchy and its place in Canadian heritage, while republicans argue it's time for Canada to be headed by an elected head of state.
"I believe that we should be a state, I think that makes sense, and I’m open to hearing folks' opinions on that, but that’s my take," Singh said.
The NDP Leader said that while that’s his positon, it’s "not a priority" for him to pursue what’s been considered a major constitutional change.
"I think we are a nation and we are proud of our nation and proud of the work we do. We’ve got a democracy and we’re proud of our democracy and I think that’s what most Canadians think is important and I think we should focus on that."
Despite questioning the relevance of Canada’s current system of government, Singh is currently pushing for a seat in Parliament.
He's eyeing a formerly NDP-held B.C. seat in the House of Commons and has called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to call the byelection in that riding and others.
Last Sunday Trudeau announced a byelection in an Ontario riding that had been vacant since the death of a Conservative MP in the spring. He quickly came under fire from all sides for not calling the other outstanding races, where Canadians are also without direct representation, though for a shorter amount of time.
Trudeau said on Thursday that the other byelection announcements are coming “soon,” but Singh said it was "pretty petty" for Trudeau to have not done so yet.
Asked about why now he’s keen to run for a seat, after spending the first year as leader saying he was fine with spending his time travelling the country and speaking with Canadians, Singh said this fight isn’t about him, or whether or not he’s running.
"Whether I'm running or not running wouldn't change the fact that there's three vacant seats… there is no explanation whether I ran or didn’t run that would still justify the fact that there’s three vacant seats that need a byelection," Singh said.