I was at the computer, working out some arbitrage figures vis-a-vis sugar beet futures when Sir Harry called. The two week hiatus in which I had been left alone was apparently over.
"Who is Amir Khadir?" he asked.
"I haven't a clue," I replied. "Is he offering time-shares in Kabul? Running guns in Pakistan? Growing asparagus in Chechnya? How the hell --"
"He's from Canada," said Sir Harry tersely. "From Quebec. Going after the monarchy, he is. A royal visit is pending --"
"Hold on, hold on," I said. "It's coming back now. Khadir is a member of the Quebec National Assembly, in the Quebec Solidaire party. Fringe group. Only speaks for a minority."
"Nevertheless," said Sir Harry. The Prince and the Duchess of Cambridge could be at risk, and perhaps ...." His voice trailed off.Then a short silence.
"Perhaps what?" Then came the dawn. "No. Not on. An executive sanction would in this case be madness. I will research this a bit more, but I am certain there's no threat here. I doubt that the kid even owns a gun, let alone knows how to use one. The only Bad Thing here is M. Khadir's total misunderstanding of the beneficial role a constitutional monarchy can play, both in the UK and here."
"I'll send you a report," I replied. "But aside from the usual precautions, going after Khadir would be a total waste of time. And money, Sir Harry. And money." I threw the latter point in because all government budgets are tight now, including Sir Harry's.
After agreeing begrudgingly to drop the matter, Sir Harry rang off.
As to my report, I restricted myself to two points -- money and stability.
To my mind, it is inarguable that the English monarchy is a wealth creator. Yes, it draws extensively from the public purse, but these expenses pale in comparison to the money the monarchy draws in through tourism, memento sales, hotel bookings, and the like. Even in Quebec, I would venture that there are any number of hoteliers and merchants who are salivating at the fiscal rewards coming.
More importantly, however, is the stability the monarchy provides in terms of giving the Commonwealth a head of state that is above the sleaze and partisanship that are the bane of politics today. Yes, there is a risk that an absolute idiot could inherit the throne, but we are a long way from the era of the Divine Right Of Kings, in spite of the efforts made by the likes of Robert Mugabe or Hugo Chavez. Put against this lot, the House of Windsor doesn't do that badly. Not badly at all.
As for M. Amir Khadir, my advice would be to read some history.
Then we gave it back, and Quebec has all the rights that other Canadian provinces have. Even more, given the language issue. Levesque and Bouchard (even old DeGaulle) couldn't bring independence about, and it has now become what those versed in politics call a "Dead Issue". Time to move on, Amir.
Je me souviens.