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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 12 page 17


In the end, you chose to swear the oath then renounce part of it, as the courts had made clear was your right to do. You've set up a website inviting others to make similar declarations. Do you plan to participate in further action or protest against the oath and/or the monarchy?

I’m now a Canadian citizen, and my protest against the oath I took was, in my mind, adequate. No one could possibly suspect that in taking the oath as I did I professed any kind of loyalty to the monarchy. So from the personal perspective, which was after all my original motivation, I am not committed to any further action. This said, I have set up mostly as a service to others who wish to disavow, and for future activists who may use it later. I don’t plan to take any initiatives. Yet it may be that when others publicly disavow in the future, and when the laws change, people will ask me about my opinions as you are asking me now. I plan to continue responding to such requests.

Did you write to the monarch explaining your disavowal as at one time you meant to do?

No, my opinion changed. Why would I write to that person who should not be where she is, or maybe, as the other side thinks, is merely a symbol and therefore should not opine on a political issue?

Besides Canadian, you hold Israeli and U.S. citizenship. How do you compare the U.S. oath to the Canadian one, especially the part that requires you to bear arms if they need you to?

I’m a U.S. citizen by birth and so I’ve never taken the U.S. citizenship oath and I’ve never thought about it carefully. This said, under certain circumstances conscientious objectors may omit the “bearing arms” part of the U.S. oath. No parallel option is available in Canada.

By the way, citizenship, like royalty, is a privilege, and it is worthwhile to compare the two concepts. In an ideal world of love and harmony citizenship would not be necessary. But we don’t live in that world yet, and citizenship is a necessary evil. The same necessity for a royalty class does not exist. Citizenship is mostly granted by virtue of “living in the land.” Nobody is required to bow down to citizenship.

What sort of constitutional arrangement would you advocate for Canada — e.g., a homegrown monarchy, a viceroy, a presidential system? Who is to be the Head of State?

I obviously dislike the idea of a monarchy, but what I fought was the idea that I have to pretend to have personal allegiance to the monarchy; I did not fight the monarchy itself. If others want to keep the monarchy, I regret it, but so be it. Having a head of state does not require personal allegiance to her/him; such allegiance is very distinct from allegiance to the country itself. (I did vow the latter while disavowing the former.)

As an aside, I fail to understand why we need a head of state at all. Switzerland does not have a head of state (unless you are willing to assign this title to a committee), and nobody seems to feel that something is amiss.

Are you winning or losing this battle?

In the personal sense, I’ve already won. I am a Canadian citizen. I was humiliated a bit by having to take an oath and then retract parts of it, but I didn’t sacrifice my principles. In the more global sense, who knows? The battle against the oath will continue as more and more people will be open about their discomfort as they are made to take oaths to the monarchy: immigrants, public servants, and soldiers, here in Canada and elsewhere. Sooner or later, the oath will go — this is a part of an undeniable historical process in which the reach of the monarchy continuously shrinks. But I have no idea how long this will take.