February 2022 Newsletter

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President’s message

D. Michael Jackson
D. Michael Jackson, President of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada

In 2021, the Institute was frequently in the news, as media turned to our Fellows and executive and board members for informed comment on developments concerning the Canadian Crown. While some of these were not positive, notably the resignation of Governor General Julie Payette, others were, for example the appointment and installation of Mary Simon as Canada’s 30th Governor General. Regardless of the issues, we always seek to fulfil our mission statement:

  • To enhance understanding of Canada’s federal and provincial constitutional arrangements and, in particular, the role of the Crown.
  • To broaden knowledge of the constitutional role of the Crown; the impartial head-of-state functions performed by the sovereign, the governor general, and the lieutenant governors; and Canada’s honours and symbols of authority.

This year we are celebrating a momentous occasion in Canadian history: the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who attained a record-breaking seventy years as our monarch on February 6, Accession Day. While marking the anniversary in several ways, including an attractive flag and emblem, the federal government has regrettably decided not to create a Platinum Jubilee Medal, despite a tradition of commemorative medals going back to the Centennial Medal in 1967 and including the Queen’s Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees. 

However, provinces and territories and organizations like ours also have Jubilee programs. The Institute’s initiatives to mark the Jubilee include a series of backgrounders and videos on the Canadian Crown, a book to appear in August, and a conference in September. We are pleased to partner with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in their extensive Jubilee program. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate Canada’s Crown and explain it to Canadians.

Michael Jackson
President, Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

The Department of Canadian Heritage has produced this attractive emblem for the Platinum Jubilee. More information on the emblem and other initiatives is available online.

Platinum Jubilee pins

The Department of Canadian Heritage has arranged with the Monarchist League of Canada to distribute lapel pins displaying the emblem. General information on the Monarchist League is available on their website.

Platinum Jubilee emblem for use in Canada

Alberta announces Platinum Jubilee medal

The Province of Alberta has announced a provincial Commemorative Medal, one of several initiatives marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Several other provinces are said to be planning Platinum Jubilee medals.

Viceregal offices

Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty and Donna Mirasty with Chapel Royal tobacco seeds that will be planted in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Garden at Government House in Regina, Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty and Donna Mirasty with Chapel Royal tobacco seeds that will be planted in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Garden at Government House in Regina, Saskatchewan

Each lieutenant governor and territorial commissioner is leading the establishment of a garden in their own jurisdiction to celebrate Her Majesty’s seventy years of devoted service as Queen of Canada. The gardens will include plants suited to the local climate.

Viceregal Offices received tobacco seeds from plants grown for the Chapel Royal at Massey College, which is called Gi-Chi-Twaa Gimaa Kwe Mississauga Anishinaabek AName Amik (The Queen’s Anishinaabek Sacred Place). The inclusion of tobacco, where climates and protocols allow, will represent the enduring relationship between the Crown and Indigenous Peoples. The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Gardens will be planted in the spring and unveiled throughout the summer.

Royal Canadian Geographical Society

The Royal Canadian Geographic Society is featuring the Platinum Jubilee on its website and in the May-June issue of its bi-monthly magazine, Canadian Geographic. Here are some links:

The Platinum Jubilee: A Reflection

By Nathan Tidridge (1st Vice-President, Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada)

Nathan Tidridge
Nathan Tidridge, 1st Vice-President of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada

On February 6, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II quietly observed the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne—the first such milestone in Commonwealth history. The moment was, of course, bittersweet, since it also marked seven decades since the loss of her father, the much-loved George VI.

It is anniversaries such as these that naturally ask us to reflect on our history and the stories that are told in an effort to capture it. This is a healthy exercise—confronting its tensions, injustices and lessons move us closer toward understanding a place like Canada. However, it’s important that a definition for this country remain largely out of reach because the moment we grab hold of it we stop growing and developing as a society. For Canada, the journey is far more important than the destination.

The Crown has been a part of this land ever since the first settler set foot on the continent and the Queen’s representative, the governor general, remains the oldest public office in what is now Canada. The Crown binds Canadians in Treaty, as well as other critical relationships, with Indigenous Peoples—relationships only now being picked back up after over 150 years of neglect following Confederation.

In his wonderful collection of letters, published as The Idea of Canada, former governor general David Johnston explained the monarchy by quoting Robertson Davies: “In a government like ours, the Crown is the abiding and unshakeable element; politicians come and go, but the Crown remains and certain aspects of our system pertain to it which are not dependent on any political party.”

Indeed, Elizabeth II—now in her 96 year—has been an unshakeable element throughout some of the most tumultuous events in history, including critical moments in the development of Canada. She is a veteran of the Second World War who, at the age of 21, publicly dedicated herself to a life of total service, five years before the sudden death of her father placed her on the throne. When Canada proclaimed the ascension of Elizabeth II, it was a moment closer (by twenty years) to the Victorian age then it was to our present day. Her first Canadian prime minister was Louis St. Laurent at time when distinct Canadian citizenship was only five years old.

The Canada of 1952 is largely gone now, reinvented and renewed by successive generations. As the Queen well knows, the Crown has been one of the primary instruments used to effect this change. The Crown in Canada—an institution so often maligned and dismissed in this country—provides the democratic structure needed for this chaotic federation to survive and endure. This is why, during the 1982 constitutional debates, it was the provinces that ensured that the monarchy was entrenched in our constitution (the only Commonwealth realm to do such a thing). The Crown is the keystone of our evolving democracy, partner in Treaty as well as other foundational relationships in the land, and principal actor in the important ceremonies and protocols that animate our society (magnifying the values, people and moments that guide us). “I am not just a fair-weather friend,” the Queen reminded Canadians during the unity crisis of 1990.

Countless opinions will be given regarding the nearly three-quarters of a century reign of Elizabeth II. However, there will be one voice that will remain largely silent: that of the Queen. In a 21 century possessed by thunderous voices and ideologies that have both polarized and politicized nearly every aspect of our lives, the Queen’s oath still holds: she exists to serve.

The Queen's Canadian Royal Standard flying over Memorial Park, in Waterdown, Ontario. February 6, 2022—Accession Day.
The Queen’s Canadian Royal Standard flying over Memorial Park, in Waterdown, Ontario. February 6, 2022—Accession Day.

New book on the Canadian Crown

Canada’s Deep Crown: Beyond Elizabeth II, The Crown’s Continuing Canadian Complexion

Cover of ”Canada’s Deep Crown: Beyond Elizabeth II, The Crown’s Continuing Canadian Complexion”

By David E. Smith, Christopher McCreery, and Jonathan Shanks

Institute Fellow David E. Smith and Registrar Christopher McCreery have co-authored with Jonathan Shanks this remarkable volume, a must-read for scholars of the Canadian Crown.

The Crown in Canada has had a profound influence in shaping a country and a constitution that embraces the promotion of political moderation, societal accommodation, adaptable constitutional structures, and pluralistic governing practices. While none of these features themselves originated through legislative or constitutional action, David E. Smith, Christopher McCreery, and Jonathan Shanks propose that all reflect the presence and actions of the Crown.

Examining how constitutional monarchy functions, Canada’s Deep Crown discusses how the legal and institutional abstraction of the Crown varies depending on the circumstances and the context in which it is found. The Crown presents differently depending on who is observing it, who is representing it, and what role it is performing. With a focus on the changes that have taken place over the last fifty years, this book addresses the role of the Crown in dispersing power throughout Canada’s system of government, the function the Sovereign, governor general, and lieutenant governors play, and how the demise of the Crown and transition to a new Sovereign is likely to unfold.

David E. Smith is adjunct faculty in the Department of Politics and Public Administration and a member of the Yeates School of Graduate Studies at Ryerson University.

Christopher McCreery is the Private Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and executive director of Government House Halifax.

Jonathan Shanks is senior counsel at the Privy Council Office Legal Services Sector of the Department of Justice of Canada.

Institute updates


The Institute has announced the election of four new Fellows:

  • Professor John Borrows, OC, FRSC, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, University of Victoria
  • Professor Andrew Irvine, Department of Economics, Philosophy and Political Science, Okanagan Campus, University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Warren J. Newman, Senior General Counsel, Constitutional, Administrative and International Law Section, Department of Justice of Canada
  • Professor Anne Twomey, AO, Constitutional Reform Unit, University of Sydney, Australia

The new Fellows, like the eight inaugural Fellows appointed in 2020, are acknowledged authorities on the Crown, with many publications to their credit. The Institute looks forward to their continued contributions to the knowledge and understanding of Canada’s system of constitutional monarchy.

Biographies of the Fellows are available on the Institute’s website. The College of Fellows has a two-fold purpose:

  1. To recognize distinguished persons who have made major contributions to the study of the Crown.
  2. To associate them with the Institute’s mission of educating Canadians on the Crown.

Fellows may use the post-nominal letters FSCC.

Crown Bibliography

The Institute’s General Bibliography on the Crown in Canada is now posted on our website.

This bibliography lists books, chapters in books, educational publications, articles in periodicals, and theses related to the institution of the Crown in Canada. It encompasses the constitutional, parliamentary and legal aspects of the Crown, including federalism; the Sovereign and the Royal Family; the viceregal offices; the relationship with the Indigenous Peoples; honours; the international dimension of the Crown in the Commonwealth Realms; and Canadian court cases involving the principles and jurisdiction of the Crown.

Backgrounders on the Crown

The Institute is posting online a series of backgrounders, explaining how Canada’s constitutional monarchy functions. This is one of the Institute’s initiatives to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The backgrounders are available in English and French. The following are now posted on the website:

  • Historical Perspective on Monarchy in Canada by Michael Jackson
  • The Crown and the Constitution by Barbara Messamore
  • Reserve Powers of the Crown by David Johnson
  • The Viceregal Offices: The Governor General by Barbara Messamore
  • Succession to the Throne by Michael Jackson
  • Transition to a New Reign by Nathan Tidridge

 To be posted at a later date:

  • Crown-Indigenous Relations by Nathan Tidridge
  • The Viceregal Offices: The Lieutenant Governors by Andrew Heard
  • Honours and the Crown by Christopher McCreery

Educational videos

This series of brief vignettes, produced by Institute 2nd Vice-President Barbara Messamore, is directed at a school audience. The first, on the Governor General, will soon be posted on the Institute’s website.

Platinum Jubilee book

Cover of “A Resilient Crown: Canada’s Monarchy at the Platinum Jubilee”

In August 2022, Dundurn Press is publishing A Resilient Crown: Canada’s Monarchy at the Platinum Jubilee. Edited by Michael Jackson and Christopher McCreery, the book includes contributions by Damien-Claude Bélanger, Keith Carlson, Signa Daum Shanks, John Fraser, Carolyn Harris, Andrew Heard, David Johnston, Carolyn King, Serge Joyal, Barbara Messamore, Arthur Milnes, Warren Newman, Jonathan Shanks, Nathan Tidridge, and Michael Valpy.

A Resilient Crown examines a broad range of topics related to Canada’s constitutional monarchy. These include Crown-Indigenous relations; the foundational place of the Crown in Canada’s system of government; the Crown and the media; the Crown and Francophone Canada; the viceregal offices and the role of the administrator; royal tours; Canada’s Chapels Royal—and Queen Elizabeth herself.

Next Conference on the Crown

The Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada is planning its fifth conference for September 22-23, 2022, in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador. The theme will be that of the book: A Resilient Crown: Canada’s Monarchy at the Platinum Jubilee. The conference will be both in-person and livestreamed. Information on registration and program will be forthcoming.

Previous conferences have been held in Toronto (2019), Victoria (2016), Regina (2012), and Ottawa (2010).

Collaboration with the Royal Commonwealth Society (Toronto Branch)

The Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada is pleased that four people associated with the Institute have been invited by RCS’s Toronto Branch to give a series of online lectures about the Platinum Jubilee. Founding President John Fraser delivered the first of these, appropriately, on February 6, Accession Day. Hugh Segal, former Principal of Massey College, gives the second, on March 7. He will be followed by Institute board member Michael Valpy on April 21 and 1st Vice-President Nathan Tidridge on September 30. Complimentary registration for these lectures is available online.

Screenshot of RCS event itinerary

The Institute recognized

Two Fellows of the Institute have recently been recognized for their achievements:

Anne Twomey

Professor Anne Twomey after the investiture ceremony with her husband, Justice Mark Leeming, on the left and Christopher Sullivan on the right
Professor Anne Twomey after the investiture ceremony with her husband, Justice Mark Leeming, on the left and Christopher Sullivan on the right

Professor Anne Twomey was invested as an Officer of the Order of Australia on February 18, 2022, by Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley, AC, QC, Governor of New South Wales, at Government House in Sydney.

Here is part of the citation, read by Christopher Sullivan, Deputy Official Secretary to the Governor of New South Wales (Christopher attended our conference on the Crown in Toronto in 2019):

“Her publications include three books from Federation Press: The Constitution of New South Wales; The Australia Acts 1986: Australia’s Statutes of Independence; The Chameleon Crown: The Queen and her Australian Governors; and The Veiled Sceptre: Reserve Powers of Heads of State in the Westminster Systems. In addition, Professor Twomey is highly sought-after internationally to deliver papers and presentations on constitutional law, and was last month elected as a Fellow of Canada’s Institute for the Study of the Crown.”

Michael Jackson

His Honour and Michael Jackson
His Honour and Michael Jackson at Government House, Regina

Institute President Michael Jackson received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, His Honour the Honourable Russ Mirasty, SOM, MSM, on October 17, 2021, at Government House in Regina. This was in recognition of his services to the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada since its founding in 2005.

About the Institute

Check the website of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada for news of the Institute and informed comment by leading authorities on the Crown.

Executive Committee

PresidentD. Michael Jackson, CVO, SOM, CD, FSCCRegina
Founding PresidentJohn Fraser, CM, FSCCToronto
1st Vice-PresidentNathan Tidridge, MSMWaterdown, ON
2nd Vice-PresidentBarbara J. Messamore, FRHistS, FSCCVancouver
RegistrarChristopher McCreery, MVOHalifax
SecretaryJohn GrossToronto

Advisory Board

James BirdToronto
Mary Dawson, CM, QCOttawa
J. William GalbraithOttawa
Carolyn HarrisToronto
George E. Lafond, SOMVictoria
The Honourable Serge Joyal, PC, OC, OQ, FRSC, FSCCMontréal
The Honourable David Onley, CM, OOntToronto
Michael ValpyToronto