OTTAWA—He might have called Windsor, Ontario, the rectum of the world, but there is a movement afoot to make Stephen Colbert the King of Canada.
The satirical effort to crown Colbert king is meant to draw attention to, and ire toward, the fact that Canada is officially ruled by an unelected governor general, the British Queen’s Regent in the Great White North. Colbert hosts a late-night satirical take on current events on Comedy Central—the long-running, award-winning series The Colbert Report.
While the governor general, currently David Johnston, has a largely ceremonial role, in rare and specific circumstances the GG can decide whether a government stands or falls, and even once chose the prime minister.
Democracy Watch, the group behind the campaign to king Colbert, thinks this is an affront that needs resolution.
The group hopes to collect at least 100,000 signatures from Canadians on a petition at www.colbertforking.ca and persuade Colbert to come to Parliament Hill in the nation’s capital Ottawa, Ontario, later this summer to receive his crown.
Democracy Watch, a non-partisan group that advocates for democratic reform and government accountability, says the campaign is fun, but the issue is not.
“Queen Elizabeth and her representatives are purely symbolic officials who don’t have the legitimate democratic power needed to stop abuses of power and lead our country,” said Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.
“We need Canadians to come together in support of an elected head of state who has the democratic authority to enforce the constitution and uphold the public interest. Calling on Stephen Colbert to be elected as King of Canada is a spirited way to get attention and spark discussion.”
Democracy Watch says Canadians agree, citing a survey conducted by Harris-Decima last year which found that 55 percent of Canadians want a Canadian head of state while only 34 percent wanted to continue with a member of the British royal family.
The Monarchist League of Canada, a group that supports the current system, argues that keeping Canada under the British crown stabilizes the country by offering a unifying authority free from partisan politics: “a non-partisan, non-violent safeguard.”
Stephen Colbert has had an odd relationship with Canada in the past. In his book, America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t, Colbert suggested Windsor, Ontario, was the rectum of the Earth in a footnote. The jab attracted media attention in Canada that Colbert poked fun at during his program.
Colbert referenced an online poll from Canada’s public broadcaster that asked whether it was good or bad for Windsor to have the popular TV host describe the city as the rectum of the Earth. A significant majority said it was good, prompting Colbert to say, “Apparently the Earth’s rectum is an improvement over Windsor’s previous reputation.”
“You’re welcome, Windsor, you just got the Colbert Bump.”