January 17, 2020

Harry and Meghan may be heading to Canada but does Canada want them?
The royal couple could find privacy on Vancouver Island but questions have been raised about the cost of providing securityResidents of Vancouver Island say that its rugged beauty and tranquility make it one of the best places to live in Canada.“The hiking is beautiful, the trees are beautiful, the ocean is beautiful. I can’t say enough good things about it,” said Sue Rogers, who moved to the east coast community of North Saanich seven years ago. “I have way more space than anywhere I’ve ever lived before – but I know my neighbours way better.”Those neighbours may soon include Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, after Buckingham Palace confirmed that the couple plan to “spend time in Canada” once they step back from public life in the UK.Over Christmas, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex rented a sprawling mansion in North Saanich, and Markle was spotted there again this week.“There’s a lot of excitement about it,” Rogers said. “But people here also understand [the couple] wanting to have some of the peace and quiet we have here. It makes perfect sense.”British Columbia’s premier, John Horgan, has said that he was “giddy” at the prospect of the Sussexes’ move. But a current of scepticism across the country has also emerged, as Canadians begin to tally up the potential costs of having royalty living among them.One focus for discontent is the potential cost of the extensive security detail the couple would require: estimates have ranged from C$1.3m (US$1m) to more than C$10m (US$7.7m) annually.“Canadians do not have an appetite to pick up that bill,” said Shachi Kurl, executive director at the Angus Reid Institute, whose polling firm found that nearly three-quarters of Canadians were unhappy at the prospect of tax dollars funding royal security.During royal visits, the Canadian government foots the bill. But questions have arisen over whether the couple would now qualify for official protection.Some have argued that Canada will just have to cough up. “It costs what it costs, and Canada should pay it. Grownup countries cost money to operate,” said the National Post columnist Matt Gurney this week. “Complaining about it is all tootypical of us – Canadian cheapness at its worst.”Others have questioned if the couple will face the same treatment as other prospective immigrants.“[Harry’s] going to have a very tough time,” said Mario Bellissimo, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer, who said the prince’s age,35, and lack of postsecondary education both worked against his immigration application.“This might surprise people, but Meghan would likely be the principal applicant – and not Harry,” he said. Meghan lived in Toronto for several years, filming the show Suits – which makes her a candidate for self-employment, with her husband and son probably included as dependants on her application.The Beaverton, a satirical Canadian publication, poked fun at the pair of “unskilled foreigners” and asked if Harry might “illegally take away ceremonial jobs [such as ribbon-cutting and handshaking] from hard working Canadians”.Meanwhile, the episode has cast a light Canada’s complex relationship with the crown. Polls routinely show that Canadians are split on the question of whether to continue with the monarchy, but recent polling shows that 45% of the public wants to do away with it.And even those who support the institution have chafed at the idea of actually having members of the royal family living in the country.“Canada welcomes people of all faiths, nationalities and races, but if you’re a senior member of our Royal Family, this country cannot become your home,” said an editorial in the centre-right Globe and Mail this week.The newspaper’s opposition to the move was not an argument for becoming a republic, but for “maintaining Canada’s unique and highly successful monarchy” – an institution more symbolic than literal.Back on Vancouver island, Rogers said she could see why her community would make a good fit for the young family. “Privacy is not something that they ever get. And I can understand why, after spending, a couple of days out here, you really just feel like you’re secluded,” she said. “There’s just a sense wanting to leave them alone.”
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