How not to swear an oath to the king

How not to swear an oath to the king

This story, in French, seems to be ruffling a few feathers and frankly I don’t understand why. 

The leader of the Parti Québécois, who is not at the moment a member of the National Assembly, expressed the thought that he could sit in that chamber without going through the obligatory swearing of the oath to King Charles III. And people are pressing him to answer how. 

Of course he doesn’t have an answer. That’s because he doesn’t know his own separatist history. More on that in a moment.

In order for a member of any legislature in this country to take their seat and, crucially, receive their salary, benefits and pension, they must be sworn in. Given that Canada is still, inexplicably, a constitutional monarchy, the oath of office for legislators everywhere must be to his majesty you-know-who. 

This is more painful for some people than others. Imagine being an Indigenous legislator whose family is struggling with the multi-generational trauma caused by the same royal family they must now swear allegiance to. 

Quebec separatists are also not fond of the monarchy, for different but related reasons. As is their right. 

But you know, the law requires everyone to swear their oath if they want to be able to do the job they got elected to do. Perhaps this could be changed. I don’t know, I’d have to ask… legislators… whether they could maybe get going on that, see where it takes them.

But you wanted to know about history. Back in the early or mid-2000s I wrote about this phenomenon that saw separatist politicians mumble their obligatory oaths to the protocol officer followed by a heartfelt Vive le Québec libre or some such expression of separatist fervour. 

As it turns out, for the oath to be valid, it only needs to be heard by the person in charge of recording whether or not it took place. A loophole of sorts that I assume has been used, here and there over the years, by representatives who don’t want to be recorded swearing allegiance to the sovereign. 

Petty? Yes. But at the same time, a legal way to make a point. You agree with it or not. You can even roll your eyes until they fall out of your head, onto the floor and behind the stove. I believe in the mid-oughts I did just that myself. 

It doesn’t make any sense for the current leader of the separatist party to not know of this history. I would challenge him on that, personally. Especially if I were a member of said party. 

Update: A good old lawsuit is also a good way to change things.