In a poll taken a few years ago, only 5 per cent of Canadians said they were aware that Queen Elizabeth is our head of state. It is hard to believe. She is on our mail, our money and our patriotic music. We send our children to Royal Roads and Queen's universities. We deposit our money in the Royal Bank. We celebrate Victoria Day. We drive to work along the Queen Elizabeth Highway. And when our old soldiers get together, they toast her and ask God to 'save' her. An ancient European bloodline flows through the Canadian body politic after 137 years of 'independence'. And yet most Canadians still entertain the fantasy that we govern ourselves. Last week, we were reminded that the reality is otherwise when the Queen, who has outlasted half a dozen prime ministers, opened the new session of Canada's parliament. Actually, the Queen did not come, but her representative, the governor-general, presided. Her name is Adrienne Clarkson, and a less likely agent of royalty you will not find. Ms Clarkson is a child of the 'new' Canada, a child of refugees, who came here at the age of three from Hong Kong. She is articulate, smart, modern, and married to philosopher-writer John Ralston Saul. Yet here she is, at the apex of the Canadian political system, a symbol of medieval privilege. Her job, under the constitution, is to summon parliament, approve bills, sign documents, declare war, and tell the prime minister when it is time to step down. All right, most of it is ceremonial. But it is still enough to make your republican blood boil. It would be tolerable if she kept a low profile. But that is not her style. Last year, she took 59 friends and acquaintances on a C$5.3 million (HK$33 million) junket through Russia, Finland and Iceland. Being a royal subject, I paid for the trip, along with other Canadian taxpayers. And I did not like it. Then, a month ago, comes word that Ms Clarkson and her husband (both of whom must be addressed as 'excellency', by the way) have been taking overnight trips to New York on a government jet - 10 in two years. And almost no explanation is offered. The royal charade costs about C$40 million a year, and as the peasant told the king in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: 'I didn't vote for you!' Canadians are sharply divided on the issue. Columnist Charles Gordon neatly summarised the pro-royalty side: 'Why get into a family fight?' Writer Diane Francis, an unrepentant republican, said: 'Who wants Prince Charles' face on our dollar bills when the Queen departs?' Two centuries ago, that kind of sentiment would have led to the gallows. Happily, we have eliminated the worst excesses of royalty. Now maybe it is time to finish the job.