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Mario Canseco: Support for King Charles wanes as Canadians' republican sentiment grows

Growing numbers of Canadians want an elected head of state, survey reveals.
Why won't Canada sever its ties with the British Monarchy? The constitution.

Since I started asking questions about the monarchy and the Royal Family in 2009, the favourability rating for Queen Elizabeth II in Canada never fell below the 50 per cent mark.

The situation is completely different for her son and heir, who has never been able to reach the same echelon, either as a prince or as a monarch. In this month’s survey by Research Co. and Glacier Media, 38 per cent of Canadians (up six points since March 2023) hold favourable views on King Charles III, while the rating for Queen Consort Camilla stands at 25 per cent (up three points).

Canadians continue to wish for the current monarch to commit to reducing the carbon footprint of the entire Royal Family (68 per cent, down two points) and advance the cause of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples (60 per cent, down five points).

The proportion of Canadians who say they “have a problem” with King Charles III being featured on coins and bills that will be used in Canada stands at 37 per cent (up two points).

The rating is better for Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (48 per cent, up two points) and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (42 per cent, up one point).

The couple’s recent visit to British Columbia to promote the Invictus Games seems to have paid off. Their favourability ratings in our province jumped to 51 per cent (up 13 points) and 47 per cent (up nine points) respectively.

Still, the undisputed darlings are the Prince and Princess of Wales. More than half of Canadians hold favourable views on both William (54 per cent, unchanged) and Kate (also 54 per cent, unchanged).

The enduring popularity of William is also evident on a separate question, where half of Canadians (50 per cent, unchanged) tell us they would have preferred to see him become King of the United Kingdom and the other 14 Commonwealth realms, including Canada, instead of his father.

This month, almost half of Canadians (46 per cent, up two points) would prefer for Canada to have an elected head of state, while fewer than one in four (23 per cent, up four points) would like to remain a monarchy. Once again, about a third of Canadians either do not care either way (21 per cent, down one point) or are undecided (10 per cent, down five points).

Half of Canadian men (50 per cent) appear ready to have an elected head of state, compared to 43 per cent of Canadian women.

Support for this constitutional change reaches 52 per cent among Canadians aged 18-34, 48 per cent among those aged 35-54 and 39 per cent among those aged 55 and over.

The intriguing fluctuations are regional and political. It is not shocking to see Quebec at the top of the list of regions that yearn to have a “Canadian President” (53 per cent, up five points). The surprise this month is to see Alberta at 50 per cent (up 14 points), followed by Ontario (45 per cent, down three points), British Columbia (43 per cent, up two points), Atlantic Canada (41 per cent, up four points) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (40 per cent, down three points).

In the past few years, Conservative Party backers have been more supportive of the monarchy as an institution, while New Democratic Party (NDP) voters have been more on the side of “republicanism.”

Liberal Party voters are usually somewhere in between. This month, the animosity of New Democrats continues, as only 20 per cent (down one point) are willing to keep the monarchy. There is a shift in the other two parties, with the proportion of monarchy defenders rising to 29 per cent (up seven points) among Liberals and sitting at 25 per cent (up one point) among Conservatives.

More than half of Canadians (52 per cent, up five points) think Canada will still be a monarchy 20 years from now, while 33 per cent (down three points) expect the country to have an elected head of state by then. Those who express a wish for a “Canadian Republic” are split: 46 per cent of them think there will still be a King or Queen in 2044, while 48 per cent do not.

Our annual look at the monarchy in Canada provides mixed signals. Sympathy towards King Charles III is up, but remains significantly lower than the levels enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth II. Support for an elected head of state in Canada is at the second highest level recorded, only below the 49 per cent observed in February 2022.

The fascinating issue is the apparent abandonment of monarchist sentiment from Conservatives. Their favourability rating for King Charles III is now in line with the tepidness and dejection that Liberals and New Democrats have long expressed. Only 25 per cent of Conservative voters call for the continuation of the monarchy, a severe drop from what we observed in 2019 (41 per cent).

In years past, discussions about constitutional reform in Canada always found more support from New Democrats. This time around, and with a federal election a year and a half away, the views of supporters of the three major federal political parties are aligning in a combination of dullness when pondering the current monarch and slight curiosity about the possibility of having an elected head of state.

Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.

Results are based on an online study conducted from March 8 to March 10, 2024, among 1,002 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.