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Australia Day

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Australia Day is the official national day of the Commonwealth of Australia. Each year on 26th January celebrations are held across the country to commemorate the landing of the first British ships and the raising of the British flag by Governor Arthur Phillip in 1788 at Sydney Cove.

On the day addresses are given by the Governor-general and the Prime Minister, all states and territories mark the day with a public holiday and Aussies around the world host concerts, festivals and civic events to join in the celebrations.

Australia Australia Day v2

2015 Pan American Games

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The United Commonwealth Society would like to send its best wishes to the athletes representing the Commonwealth in the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. The Commonwealth nations below are being represented:

Commonwealth Realms and British Overseas Territories

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Canada – Host Nation
  • Cayman Islands
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Commonwealth Republics

  • Domenica
  • Guyana
  • Trinidad & Tobago

2015 Pan American Games logo

An Evening with Tim Hewish and Commonwealth Exchange

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Canadian supporters of the United Commonwealth Society will soon have an opportunity to meet their fellow enthusiasts and learn some of the latest developments from the co-founder of the leading Commonwealth think tank.

Tim HewishTim Hewish, Executive Director of Commonwealth Exchange, will be speaking to an intimate audience at an event hosted jointly with the Toronto branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society. Among the topics of discussion will be their latest publications, Commonwealth’s Call to Duty and How to Solve a Problem Like a Visa.

Our event will be held on Tuesday, July 14th from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at:

Wallace Gastropub
1954 Yonge Street (near Yonge and Davisville)
Toronto, ON  M4S 1Z4

Attendance is free. If you wish to dine during the evening, you may pay your server directly. Space is limited, so book fast. Reserve your place at http://commonwealth-exchange.eventbrite.ca/.

Commonwealth ExchangeUnited Commonwealth SocietyRoyal Commonwealth Society of Canada

News of the Realms is here!

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The first issue of News of the Realms has been sent out to UCS members. If you would like to join the Society and receive a copy of this and future issues, please visit our membership page and become a registered member. An email address will be required.

News of the Realms

Commonwealth Day 2015

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CW Day 2015

The United Commonwealth Society wishes all of you a Happy Commonwealth Day!

United Commonwealth Society Newsletter

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Greetings everyone!

As alluded to previously during our election campaign and new member documents, the United Commonwealth Society is launching an official newsletter this year. The newsletter will be digitally sent quarterly to all members who have provided us with their full name, location (city and province/state/county), and e-mail address. If you are not a member, join today and e-mail us with your contact information to ensure you receive your copy!

We want all members to have a say in what the newsletter looks like. We would like your input on a) its name and b) the logo used for the front page. Please share your suggestions by e-mailing our chair.

We also welcome content for the newsletter. Anything of interest going on in your area? Have something you’d like to discuss with the membership? Please contact us and share your ideas!

2015 is going to be a great year for the UCS. I look forward to sharing our updates with you!

David J Haisell

Chair

Membership Update – 5 November 2014

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Recently, supporters of the United Commonwealth Society have had only two options to become members: joining our discussion groups on Facebook and Google+.

As of this month, supporters can join the UCS by email. Send an email to our chair at chair@unitedcommonwealthsociety.org with your full name, email address, and location. You will receive a welcome email in response with further details about your membership.

We are thrilled to be able to expand our range of membership options to you, our supporters. Help us grow as a Society and as a voice in the realms by sharing the graphic below with your friends!

 

Membership V4

Quo Vadis, UK?

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As UK politicians debate carving out their own fiefdoms in the name of English democracy, and we in the UCS contemplate how this might potentially help or hinder a future realm union, here’s my two penn’orth:

Union Flag over Buckingham PalaceThere was a move a decade ago to introduce elected regional assemblies in England. A referendum was held in the North East but roundly defeated. The plans were not federal and contained only very limited tax raising powers. Now, the Left has revived this proposal, perhaps in a more federal form, as the supposed answer to the West Lothian question.

However, I have to say that although I was an early supporter of regional governments, I do have 3 major objections to the plans, even in federal form:

1. They would create built-in Labour and Conservative majorities in most of the country.
2. They would be likely to be dominated by urban conurbations with very different priorities from their rural hinterlands.
3. By denying England its own over-arching demos, they would be designed to kill English national identity, while Celtic nations enhance theirs.

Although I can see the arguments for it, I am not sure I would like to live under a powerful Yorkshire parliament. I think current proposals for devolution to leading cities or rural areas that ask for it is probably the way to go there. And this should take place under an over-arching federation of the four nations. I suspect that pragmatically, this would be more popular and be better for the English economy and identity.

Westminster can set UK wide taxes for the federal government. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can then set their own taxes to pay (at least partially) for their national responsibilities. Cities and other special interest regions (like Cornwall, or Rheged), can then have devolved regional governments, if they want them, with limited additional powers, answerable to their local national government.

Although I have always raised the obvious objection to England as being too large to fit comfortably into a federation, I’m no-longer sure this couldn’t be made to work. Within the UK, federal issues would remain a matter for Westminster, which could continue to be constituted as presently, or perhaps with a few more MPs for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The national governments would continue to have no say on federal matters, just as regional governments below them would have no formal representation at the national level.

Future realm federation would be gradual and probably along a confederal model anyway. A future Realm Parliament could consist of a British-style House of Commons, and a second revising chamber that gave more influence to smaller states, perhaps consisting of part appointed and part PR members.

I see no reason the upper chamber representation for England couldn’t simply be adjusted to both reflect the country’s large population and prevent it from dominating the upper chamber. The most important chamber would be the Commons anyway, where English MRPs would have up to 40% of the votes. It would then be perfectly fair to give England substantially less say in the revising chamber.

Nick Thompson

Chair Emeritus

28 September 2014

Our Union Jack

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"Our Union Jack" by Jon-Paul Teasdale

UK Regional Office Update

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After a successful first meeting of the UK Regional (UKR) Officers, held on 26th June 2014, there are some changes to announce to the organisation of the UKR Office.

First I would like to welcome Andrew Wright as our new Northern Ireland Officer. He took up his appointed post from 22nd June 2014.

Due to other commitments Kevin Ruiz is no longer able to fill the Gibraltar Officer position. The Council wishes him well in his endeavours. As our Gibraltar Officer position is now vacant we will advertise the position again shortly with our other vacancies.

 

To summarise the UKR Office consists of the following:

Jon-Paul Teasdale – UK Region Councillor / UK Regional Representative

James Nilsson-Forrest – England Officer

Robert Clayton – Isle of Man Officer

Andrew Wright – Northern Ireland Officer

 

More information of the Officer’s activity will become available as they develop through our usual membership channels.

If you are not already a member click here to visit our membership page and find out how to join.

 

Jon-Paul Teasdale

UKR Representative