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The Globe and Mail

Harper backs British PM's plan to modernize royal succession

Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives at the National War Memorial in Ottawa with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge on June 30, 2011.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Stephen Harper has informed British Prime Minister David Cameron that Canada will support his plan to modernize the royal succession – as long it doesn't get in the way of fixing the economy.

The Prime Minister does not want to spend a lot of time in the Canadian Parliament debating this as "the government is focused on creating jobs and growth in the economy," Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall told The Globe.

Although the Conservative government has made its support for the monarchy clear, this nod to the economy is likely aimed at assuring Quebeckers and other Canadians who are not big fans of the royal family, that these "reasonable modernizations" will not distract Mr. Harper's team.

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The British Prime Minister's succession plan would provide the same treatment for a royal heir whether female or male. Mr. Cameron's proposal means the first-born child of Prince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, would become heir to the throne regardless of gender.

Currently, it is the first male born, whether second or third in birth order, who takes the throne. This out-dated law means that elder sisters are passed over.

"We espouse gender equality in all other aspects of life and it is an anomaly that in the rules relating to the highest public office we continue to enshrine male superiority," Mr. Cameron wrote in a letter to 15 other Commonwealth nations.

The topic is expected to be raised and discussed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting this month in Perth, Australia.

Mr. MacDougall said his understanding is that the Constitution will not have to be reopened to deal with this. Rather, it will be an up-and-down vote in the Commons.

Carolyn Harris, a teaching fellow at Queen's University and royal expert, says Mr. Cameron is seeking the input of all of the Commonwealth leaders, for whom the Queen is their head of state, to ensure all of the governments acclaim the same monarch.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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