Meghan and Harry visit Canada House, London, January 7, 2020. - DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / POOL / AFP
- Harry recently joined his wife Meghan and their son Archie in Canada after the couple decided to abandon their central role in the British royal family.
- Despite the country's sympathy for these new arrivals, the reception was not unanimous.
- "A large number of Canadians are very happy to know that Meghan and Harry are going to settle here, but they do not want to pay the bill related to their protection," confirms the former Quebec minister Benoît Pelletier in particular.
From our correspondent in Montreal
Harry, Meghan and Archie are finally reunited in Canada. But, after two weeks of media and family storm following the announcement of the withdrawal of the couple, the trio will find there a haven of peace? The welcome is in any case far from unanimous in this member country of the Commonwealth, as large as fifteen times France. And especially regarding the financial aspect.
"We wish the best of luck to Meghan and Harry in their wish to become financially independent," wrote the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in a petition already signed by 80,000 people. After these courtesies, she asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "to ensure that taxpayers' money will not be used to support" the couple, this being "incompatible" with the new way of life of the family. Proof that the subject is sensitive, nearly 3 out of 4 Canadians refuse to pay the least cent to participate in such costs, according to a recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute.
The monarchy debate revived
"A large number of Canadians are very happy to know that Meghan and Harry are going to settle here, but they do not want to pay the bill related to their protection," added constitutional lawyer and former Quebec minister Benoît Pelletier. This concern has been echoed by several newspapers, French and English. But the daily Globe and Mail goes even further. On January 13, he published an editorial explaining why "it goes beyond the possibility that the federal government may have to find a few million more dollars." According to the editorial team, which wishes to keep members of the royal family at bay to maintain a "virtual" monarchy, to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Sussex "does not correspond to the nature of the long-standing relations between Canada and Britain, and (between) Canada and the Crown. ”
This opinion is not shared by Professor Benoît Pelletier. "The monarchy is alive and well appreciated in Canada," he says. "The powers of the monarch are essentially symbolic, as are those of the Governor General and the lieutenant-governors, but not only." If the sympathy for the royal family is not discussed, in itself, by the Canadian editorialists, the arrival of Harry and Meghan therefore revives, the debates on the constitutional monarchy, at a time when 45% of Canadians do not wish to keep this plan in the future, according to the same survey conducted by Angus Reid among 1,200 people.
Culture shock and confusion
In Quebec, where this proportion jumped to 69%, the arrival of the couple went almost unnoticed outside newsstands. And Nicole Madore, owner of the Magasin Général du Vieux-Montréal, thinks she knows why. "I am sometimes offered to sell souvenirs in a British or" mounted police "style, but here, that does not speak to us. It is undoubtedly closer to the English-speaking culture ”, explains the trader. Who still plans to buy a few products bearing the image of the royal family, in order to test them in the coming days. The new life of Harry and Meghan in Canada also reacts on the side of the Bloc Québécois independenceists. "I already have a subscription to Netflix, so I think Netflix should finance season 4 of The Crown" (to participate in the costs generated by the arrival of the couple), quipped the party leader, Yves-François Blanchet, quoted in La Presse . A question of money, again.
At the newsagent, these excitement does not make everyone laugh. "I hope that the debate will not get out of hand and that this case will not take up too much space at the media level, to the detriment of more important substantive questions", reacts on the spot Daphne Brouillet, professor of cinema and communication, for whom "The current monarchical system is obsolete". "We are little aware of the mechanics at work and our duties to the royal family," continues the Montrealer, regretting the confusion in political and media discourse on the subject. Several elements remain unclear, starting with the amount of the bill to ensure the safety of the couple and their child, estimated between 1.7 million and 10 million dollars per year.
No immigration privilege
Contrary to what certain British media announced, Justin Trudeau has not yet confirmed to Queen Elisabeth that Canada will assume these security costs. "We support them in their decision, but we also have responsibilities," the Prime Minister said on January 13 in an interview with the Global News network, adding that "a number of decisions" remained to be taken by the royal family and by the Sussex themselves.
In the area of immigration, which also creates some tensions in a country which welcomed in 2018 more than 321,000 new immigrants, the government is being clearer. "To become legal permanent residents of Canada, they would have to apply as part of our normal immigration process," said the federal immigration department at Radio Canada. In fact, neither the Duke of Sussex nor his wife automatically have Canadian citizen status.
Environmental scandal in sight?
These administrative formalities did not prevent the couple from projecting in British Columbia (West), where they were already located. According to The Sun , the former American actress would have spotted a luxurious property on the edge of the Pacific, displayed at 25 million euros. "If they stay in Canada and they travel less, they will pollute less, it is always that taken", tries to posit Daphné Brouillet. For some observers, the ecological footprint of the couple, who wishes to live between North America and the United Kingdom, could create controversy in a country where, according to a survey by the Environics institute conducted in October 2019, the environment is at the top of citizens' concerns.
But other challenges are already taking over the family. While the media pressure weighed heavily on their decision to set sail, the couple said they were already being watched by the paparazzi on Vancouver Island. Supported by their neighborhood in the town of North Saanich, where their current residence is located, they benefit from a certain “sympathy capital” and the support of several English-language press titles, such as the Toronto Star and the National Post .
The Sussexes… in Sussex?
At the other end of the country, in New Brunswick precisely (Southeast), a mayor hopes to receive their visit. He is the chosen one from ... Sussex. Considered the capital of dairy production in the Maritime provinces, the town of 4,000 inhabitants has been in the spotlight since the satirical publication The Manatee proposed it as a place of residence for the princely family.
For the time being, the family probably has other priorities, such as preventing the “Megxit” from causing as much excitement on this side of the Atlantic.
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