Chris Selley: For the greater good, Prince Charles, please shut up now

Canadians aren't just going to forget his divisive political views the moment the crown lands on his head

Earlier this week I argued that Canadians needn’t bother worrying (or, alternatively, getting their hopes up) about the Great Reset: certainly not the tinfoil-hat version in which Justin Trudeau’s government turns us into a totalitarian socialist dystopia by spring; and not even the real version being touted by Prince Charles and the World Economic Forum, with nominal support from Trudeau, which would “revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions” to left-leaning ends. Trudeau lacks even a fraction of the gumption, expertise and motivation to attempt such a thing — he already floated a post-pandemic “reset” over the summer, then abandoned it in a ditch — let alone pull it off. Any moves in that direction, or any other direction, will happen along Canada’s normal incrementalist timelines, no faster than internal polling shows Canadians are willing to tolerate.

Committed monarchists aside, conservatives will not simply forget that their new king is a champagne-swilling lefty flibbertigibbet the moment the Archbishop of Canterbury lays the crown atop his mighty ears. Conventional farmers will not forget his sophomoric objections to their safely feeding the world. Homeopaths will be pleased, which is something a monarch — current or future — should never be responsible for.

His eldest son seems to get it. Prince William’s inoffensive charitable endeavours and advocacy have included protecting British greenspaces and African wildlife, and destigmatizing and confronting mental health problems. In October, he launched the Earthshot Prize, a cash award for people who come up with innovative solutions to the world’s biggest environmental problems. People who think climate change is a hoax might not like him very much. But in general he has simply modernized grandmother’s proven formula: Do not attempt to grow a brain. Do not opine outside one’s ambit. Serve. Alas, it seems too much to ask that his dad do the same.

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Obviously many anti-monarchists see an opportunity in the transition from Elizabeth to Charles. There really isn’t. It is almost literally inconceivable that Canada will ever abandon the monarchy. Every province would have to agree not just on that, but also on what would replace it and on the various other constitutional issues the provinces would no doubt chuck into the conversation. First Nations, whose treaties are of course with the Crown, will have much to say. “Abolishing the Crown in this land, or diluting it to the point of being a meaningless symbol, without the consent of its treaty partners runs the risk of fully realizing the goal of colonization: complete control over the land’s foundational relationships by the settlers,” author Nathan Tidridge trenchantly wrote in the Toronto Star earlier this year.

The bright side of being stuck with a constitutional monarchy, for those who would rather get rid of it, has been that it is a remarkably successful, stable and above all tolerable form of government. The threat of a divisive figure like Charles taking over is that we lose even that: He politicizes and thereby undermines one of the only Canadian institutions that enjoys monolithic support. An Ipsos poll conducted in February found even 72 per cent of Quebecers thought Elizabeth II has done a good job.

A lot of that goodwill is bound to vanish, whoever succeeds her. And Charles has already done himself a lot of damage. But it’s still better he finally shut his crumpet hole now than later.

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The Great Reset initiative could have serious negative consequences for Canada, however, and they have nothing to do with Trudeau. They have to do with Charles, Prince of Wales, Canada’s future king and head of state and champion of this socioeconomic revamping — not just in the general, but in the very, very specific. His “Marshall-like Plan,” which he outlined in October, includes ending “perverse subsidies … such as those for fossil fuel, forestry, fisheries and agriculture, to transform the lives and livelihoods of millions of small farmers, landowners and fishermen,” “creating a recognized global ecosystem services market to incentivize farmers and landowners to increase and measure soil organic carbon,” and various other policy proposals several hundred kilometres above his pay grade.

Charles seems to understand on some level that his advocacy is a bit of an issue. He launched a campaign called “Mutton Renaissance,” because he thinks there isn’t enough mutton. His obsession with organic farming led him to create a brand of products called, no word of a lie, Duchy Originals. He has argued that genetically modified crops, which have saved millions of lives around the world, “take mankind into realms that belong to God and to God alone.” He thinks homeopathy ought to be integrated into the National Health Service.

He’s a bit of a kook, basically. On the bright side, he says he knows he’ll have to dial it down when he becomes king. “I’m not that stupid,” he told BBC in 2018 on the occasion of his 70th birthday. But if that’s true, why can’t he see the risk to which he’s exposing the monarchy now?

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