Skip to content

Editor's column: Schools closed for the Queen? Really?

Richmond News editor Eve Edmonds doesn't understand why there needs to be a holiday to mourn the passing of the U.K. monarch
Queen Elizabeth Times Colonist photo
Queen Elizabeth II

A day off to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth? Really?

I’m already tired of the media coverage this has been getting, but to extend it to a day off seems a bit much.

(Admittedly, reaction to the Queen’s death is our front page feature, but as a print weekly this is the first of our coverage.)

Moreover, as impactful as we like to think our front page is, it’s not quite the same as closing offices and schools. And it’s that, that has me baffled. In fact,  Mayor John Tory’s decision to grant his city of Toronto a day off to celebrate the Raptor’s parade after the team won the NBA Championship made more sense to me.

I’m not trying to make light of what for many is a truly sad and momentous moment in history. My heart goes out to her loved ones and in fact anyone who is grieving Queen Elizabeth’s death.

I, too, have a soft spot for this royal in particular — and not just because she looked remarkably like my own grandmother. Queen Elizabeth held herself with such poise and decorum, she seemed the very embodiment of  “Keep calm and carry on.”

More importantly, she displayed a wisdom and compassion that comforted many and gave the sense we’re in good hands.

All that said, I’m not a monarchist.

While I can respect the Queen as an individual and as a leader, I can’t respect the institution. As one of our reporters said upon hearing news of the Queen’s death.

“What I want to know is when the election will be held. Oh, right, there won’t be one.”

As kindly as many of the royals may be, and as much good charitable works they may engage in, there is absolutely nothing democratic about the monarchy.

They are supported by the taxpayers of Britain primarily, but all of us in the Commonwealth to some extent, yet no one votes them into power.

This flies in the face of the foundation of a modern democracy, not to mention the rallying cry of the American revolution: “No taxation without representation.”

And how much tax? It can’t be a pittance.  At one point the Queen was declared the richest woman in the word. (Although Oprah may have since toppled her off that throne.)

Then there’s the history.

India’s reaction to the Queen’s death has largely been described as “muted.” That’s shouldn’t be a surprise. Many there are still waiting for apologies for some brutal atrocities perpetrated on behalf of the British monarchy during its rule.

Meanwhile, activists in the Caribbean nations are calling on the monarchy to pay “slavery reparations.”

And, of course, here in Canada some Indigenous people refer to the Queen as the figurehead of colonialism that resulted in residential schools and land seizures.

“There needs to be an apology by the Crown for the failures and particularly for the destructiveness of colonization on First Nations people,” Roseanne Archibald, First Nations National Chief told CTV.

Granted, all the ills of the world can’t be  laid at the feet of the monarchy, and some royals have brought attention to some very worthy causes. I respect people’s desire to honour the Queen and mourn her passing. But to shut down the government and close schools seems to be making some out-of-touch assumptions.

Granted, once Prime Minister Trudeau announced a holiday, Premier John Horgan may not have had much choice given that some union contracts state members will get any day proclaimed by the provincial or federal government.

That said, Premier John Horgan also joined the chorus, claiming B.C. joins others in our “outpouring of grief.”

I don’t doubt there will be an outpouring of grief, but not just among monarchists.  Those recalling the impacts of colonization, may also feel it — not to mention, parents who are now scrambling to find day care.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks