Indigenous NDP MPPs boycott God Save the Queen
NDP Indigenous Relations critic Sol Mamakwa says the new tradition of singing God Save the Queen is a reminder of the country’s colonial past and a step backward for reconciliation.
MPPs will sing the royal anthem in addition to O Canada on the first sitting Monday of the month as part of last year’s changes to the standing orders.
But yesterday, Mamakwa — who represents the Indigenous-majority riding of Kiiwetinoong and is a Kingfisher Lake band member — and his fellow New Democrats Guy Bourgouin and Suze Morrison, steered clear of the chamber. The trio raised the issue in a Toronto Star op-ed that morning, referring to themselves as “the three Indigenous members of Ontario’s Official Opposition NDP.”
“For me, singing God Save the Queen is a celebration of a hurtful and violent colonial past,” Mamakwa later told the house.
Mamakwa has also been boycotting O Canada in the chamber since he was sworn in as an MPP in 2018. At the time, he took his oath of office in Oji-Cree and included a pledge to “honour and respect the treaties signed with Indigenous peoples.”
In an interview with Queen’s Park Today, Government house leader Paul Calandra said the royal anthem is a “show of respect” for the Queen and the decision to sing it was made with PC caucus support, though he acknowledged Liberal and Green members voiced concerns behind closed doors.
“Her Majesty, over 68 years, has had and continues to have a very special relationship with our First Nations that I’m very proud of,” Calandra said.
Green Leader Mike Schreiner said he’s still opposed to the change, but it wasn’t a hill to die on.
“This change was part of a package of procedural changes the House introduced in the fall, which, on balance, are positive for our democracy, including fairer, more inclusive debates and special accommodations for MPPs with disabilities,” Schreiner said in a statement.
Calandra called out the NDP for not raising the matter with him before Monday, but Schreiner noted the PCs previously said the royal anthem addition was “non-negotiable.”
The NDP had bowed out of Calandra’s all-party drafting process for the standing orders in protest of other contentious changes, some of which have been reversed thanks to a motion from Schreiner.