New citizen takes stand against swearing allegiance to the Queen

Srabon Salim loves Canada. The Queen? Not so much.

Immediately after taking the oath during a citizenship ceremony in Prince George on Friday, he presented a letter to the judge announcing he has disavowed his pledge of allegiance to the Queen.

article continues below

"My core values can't accept the medieval idea of monarchy in 2016 as it creates social divisions and hereditary hierarchy in social privileges," Salim says in the letter, which he also sent to John McCallum, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. "I highly regard that every child's birth is royal for every parent. It is hard for me to regard someone as 'royal' simply because he/she was born in a so-called 'royal' family. I like to look at my three little boys with a high pride of self esteem that they are socially equal to any other member in this Canadian society."

A mechanical engineer at Canfor Pulp, Salim, 38, grew up in Bangladesh but has also lived in Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, the Netherlands and even England before he and his wife, Samia, 32, decided Canada is where they want to settle down.

It was while studying for the citizenship test that he learned he would have to swear allegiance to the Queen.

"We had been looking forward to staying in this country and then this pledge thing," Salim said in an interview. "It was actually bothering me...I thought that I have to do something about this."

There was a time when the monarchy actually had power but is now seen almost exclusively as a figurehead whose primary job is to cut ribbons and wave to the public. The Royals are also a major tourism draw for the United Kingdom.

However, there have been occasions where Queen's representative in Canada, the Governor General, has had to make substantive decisions. For example, in 2009 Michaëlle Jean prorogued parliament in response the Opposition's notice it intended to defeat the Conservative minority government in a motion of non-confidence just six weeks after the federal election.

That said, the Prime Minister appoints the Governor General, not the Queen.

Salim isn't the only one who questions whether allegiance to the Queen is appropriate. In Australia, in particular, the issue of whether to declare itself a republic and cut all ties to the royal family bubbles up every once in awhile.

It's an idea Salim supports.

"Canada also should be a republic," Salim said. "It should be a country to set an example."

Because Salim waited until after the ceremony to disavow the Queen, he is free and clear of any possibility of being deported or exiled as a result.

"Once a person takes the oath of citizenship at a ceremony, they become a Canadian citizen and receive a certificate of citizenship," Ministry spokesman Remi Lariviere said in an e-mail. "If this person subsequently exercises their right to freedom of expression to disavow their oath, the disavowal has no legal impact on the oath-taking under the Citizenship Act. Therefore, the person's status as a Canadian citizen is unaffected."

Samia hasn't taken the oath yet and Salim said he does not want to influence her decision on whether to follow his footsteps. "It's her choice," he said.

Salim likes the Queen as a person and was glad to see her celebrate her 90th birthday recently.

"This lady's awesome, the way she smiles, the way she talks," he said.

But that was still not enough for Salim to overcome his misgivings.

Read Related Topics


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Prince George Citizen welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. Comments that contain external links will not be permitted. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

Spring into action POLL

What's your biggest to-do item on your list this spring and summer?

or  view results

Popular Citizen

Lowest Gas Prices in Prince George
Prince George Gas Prices provided by