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NDP leadership candidate opens 'distracting' debate on monarchy

New Democratic Party leadership candidate Nathan Cullen has opened a debate on the monarchy, an issue he'd recently dismissed as a distraction.

In a Nov. 29 post on his website, he said he would, "Hold a plebiscite on the future of the monarchy in conjunction with a referendum on voting reform." The proposal is among several on improving Canadian democracy.

"This would be the first time citizens have been asked about whether the monarchy plays a valuable role in 21st Century Canada," he said. "It’s hoped the results would guide Parliament and legislatures on Constitutional changes, should Canadians indicate a desire for change."

Interestingly, the topic of the monarchy came up in a Nov. 18 interview with The Tyee, details of which are soon to be published. Cullen mentioned the monarchy as an antiquated institution and said it "irks me as a democrat."

However, he dismissed acting on it. "It's not a top priority for me," he said. "It becomes very distracting. An emotional and distracting debate when you're trying to work on poverty and social equity."

Globe and Mail columnist Jane Taber gave the Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP credit for raising issues in the leadership campaign.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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