TORONTO — Emboldened by comments from Ontario’s highest court, a tiny but determined group of new, and not-so-new, Canadians have been publicly disavowing the oath to the Queen they were forced to take to become citizens.
Some are making the required pledge, then formally renouncing it as soon as their citizenship ceremonies are over. Others have waited decades to declare their anti-monarchist views.
“It is pretty hard for me to consciously swear to be faithful and to bear true allegiance to someone who has inherited her privileges and without having to prove any other merit than the fact to be the ‘child of’,” said Eric Dumonteil, a French national who became a citizen last week.
“How could I rationally swear the same thing to her heirs and successors? Signing a blank cheque to some people that don’t exist yet? Not for me.”
Dumonteil, 31, of Montreal, who came to Canada five years ago, handed a letter stating his position on the oath to the citizenship judge and clerk following his ceremony.
In 2014, an Israeli national, Dror Bar-Natan, along with a Jamaican woman and Irishman, lost a battle to have the courts strike down as discriminatory the requirement for would-be citizens to swear to be “faithful and bear true allegiance to Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors.”
However, in refusing to nix the requirement, the Ontario Court of Appeal noted the trio had the opportunity to “publicly disavow what they consider to be the message conveyed by the oath” as well as the ability to “freely express their dissenting views as to the desirability of a republican government.” The matter died legally last year when the Supreme Court refused to weigh in.
Leaning on the Appeal Court comments, Bar-Natan, who called the oath tantamount to a “hazing” ritual, recanted his oath orally and in a letter to the judge moments after becoming a citizen in November. He also set up a website (www.disavowal.ca) to allow others to make their disavowal views known. To date, about 30 people have done so.
Jake Javanshir, of Toronto, an Iranian in his 70s who who took his oath in the early 1970s, disavowed in December. The monarchy, he said by way of explanation, was a “form of abuse of the masses” that he could not support.
“I resented the part of the oath in regard to a few privileged people in England in 1970 but could not do anything about it, and resent it up to this day,” Javanshir said.
“My solidarity is to Canada and humanity, which is based on justice and decency and being a good citizen of the world, not to an antiquated system of ‘royals and royalties, kings, queens, princesses and on.”
Other posters, however, expressed similar sentiments, with many stressing their allegiance to Canada and the feelings of hypocrisy they felt in having to take the oath.
Masrour Zoghi, who took his pledge in 2001, explained his disavowal this way: “As someone put it recently, because it’s 2015,” a reference to Prime Minister Justin Trudea’s comment on why his cabinet was half female. Karolina Sygula, a 30-year citizen, said she was “no one’s subject.” Terence Stone, who became a citizen a year ago, wrote:
“I have carried the terrible feeling that I compromised my integrity; and so now I’m repairing that harm to myself by disavowing my pledge of allegiance to the Queen and body royal in perpetuity,” he said.
The government, which fought to uphold the oath, has made it clear the disavowals are legal and do not jeopardize anyone’s citizenship.