STATEMENT Regarding a National Holiday for Queen Elizabeth II

Cardus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 13, 2022

The federal government’s decision to offer a day’s holiday for federal employees, and the provincial government’s decision to offer a moment of silence on September 19th, instead of a nation-wide time of remembrance and mourning to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II, falls well short of what is needed for the observance of the Her Majesty’s funeral. There are several factors governments should take into consideration in developing a clear, public rationale for declaring a holiday:

  • A national holiday reminds us that Canada is more than just a technical state. We are a political community and nation bound by traditions, principles, and commitments. The monarchy is both one of Canada’s traditions and a foundational piece of the national constitutional order.
  • A national holiday recognizes that Queen Elizabeth herself was the very embodiment of those traditions and principles. She was a particularly remarkable head of state and unifying feature of our political community. Her life of service was historic, and particularly remarkable, at least on par – and arguably, greater – with Queen Victoria, whose birthday is a national holiday. Her Majesty’s death is worthy of being marked publicly by a pause of normal activity and business for a national day of mourning.
  • A national holiday to mark Queen Elizabeth’s death would be a one-time event, not a regular and repeated commemoration. Costs to business and the economy would be limited, and would likely be made up quickly.
  • A national holiday would accord with convention among other states and jurisdictions of which Her Majesty was head of state. The United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, have already declared holidays.
  • A national holiday would be a worthy remembrance of Queen Elizabeth by applying to all levels of society and all workers, whether federally or provincially regulated. A holiday that applied simply to public servants or federally regulated workers, but which did not provide a rest and pause for all Canadians, would fail to achieve the objective of national solidarity and solemnity marking the death of a particularly excellent head of state, who, arguably, is among the greatest monarchs this country has ever had.
  • A national holiday would help underline the fact that civil society plays an important role in Canada, which is distinct from the government and the state. Queen Elizabeth routinely recognized civil society through her respect and support for its building blocks: families, schools, businesses, faith communities, sports teams, music groups, social clubs, and charities. A holiday that applied only to state workers would effectively result in a holiday for the crown, and not the commons. The Queen served the commons. A holiday should as well.
  • A national holiday would serve as a public reminder that markets and economic affairs, while wonderful and important to national life, are not the entirety of public life. While paid holidays create real costs for employers, they also acknowledge that there is more to life, more to our country, than economic activity.
  • If governments do not wish to provide a full holiday, they should at least offer the same time off as is given to citizens to vote. The death of a sovereign is worthy of at least the same amount of time off as the capacity to vote. Indeed, the two are integrally linked.

Provincial governments have significant decisions to make on a daily basis. While Ontario’s decision falls short of what is required, we hope other provinces are able to support and express a clear, public rationale for declaring a holiday to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

  • Brian Dijkema, Vice-President of External Affairs at Cardus

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ABOUT CARDUS

Cardus is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy think tank focused on the following areas: education, family, work & economics, communities, end-of-life care, and religious freedom. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S.