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Canada votes to make national anthem gender-neutral

Goodbye ‘all thy sons’, and hello to ‘all of us'


Rachael Revesz
New York
Thursday 16 June 2016 17:47 BST
People of all genders celebrating Canada Day in Toronto
People of all genders celebrating Canada Day in Toronto (Getty)

O Canada!

Canadian politicians have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a bill to change the wording of their national anthem to make it more gender-neutral.

The bill, passed by members of the Canadian parliament 225 to 74, said they wanted to change the wording from “true patriot love, in all thy sons command” to “true patriot love, in all of us command”.

Christine Moore, a democratic member of parliament, told MRC-TV that tweaking the wording of the song will have a large and positive impact.

“We are in 2016. The Canadian population will understand why we want to make the change. It is not a big change, and there will not be a big difference in the national anthem, but the difference is significant for women all across Canada,” she said.

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in Canada, as pointed out by MP Greg Fergus.

“It would be nice if we stopped excluding women from their national anthem,” he said.

The bill was introduced by ailing Liberal MP Mauril Belanger who suffers from a particularly aggressive version of ALS.

By January, when he introduced the bill, he had lost his ability to speak. In May, he needed a tube inserted into his throat to help him to breathe, as reported by the Chronicle Herald.

He was present in parliament in a wheelchair when the bill was passed, and it received a standing ovation, as reported by Huffington Post Canada, with MPs breaking out into a spontaneous rendition of “O Canada”.

Mr Belanger had argued that the new wording would return the song to its original version of “thou dost in us command”, which was changed to “all thy sons” in 1913.

The vote, which still requires approval by the senate before it becomes law, follows a May 2016 study which shows that 62 per cent of Canadians are in favour of re-wording the anthem.

The Canadian public was not given the opportunity to vote on the decision.

In the Toronto Sun, columnist Candice Malcom said the move was a result of “political correctness”.

“We don’t need a bunch of self-righteous politicians in Ottawa to make women feel included. Women are already included," she wrote.

She pointed to studies in 2012 and 2013 that show about three-quarters of the Canadian public are opposed to changing the anthem, which is “a great source of national pride”.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly proved to be a champion of gender diversity, openly calling himself a feminist and making history by appointing a gender-balanced cabinet.

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