It’s almost three years since, the small, predominantly French-speaking town in northern Ontario asked the province for permission to drop a mandatory pledge of allegiance to the Queen required of incoming municipal politicians.
The town is still waiting for an answer.
Councillors from Hearst, about 950 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, voted to ask Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs to give councillors a choice between swearing allegiance to the Queen or to Canada..
“(For) myself, the Queen to me doesn’t represent much,” said Andre Rheaume, a veteran Hearst councillor who introduced the motion. “It’s an old symbol. We’re in modern Canada. We’re an independent country and I’d rather pledge allegiance to my country.”
Councillors are currently required to swear a four-point oath of office capped with a pledge to be “faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”
In a recent response to a request for an update on the Hearst motion, the town’s Chief Administrative Officer/Clerk said that the town has been informed by Ministry of Municipal Affairs that its request would be considered when undertaking a review of the Ontario Municipal Act.
“A polite political way of saying it is the government’s least of priorities,” he said. “The insight we are getting is that Cabinet’s agenda is so loaded with proposed legislation that this kind of change will very unlikely get heard any time soon.