After many years of debate and several stalled bills in the House of Commons, a private members bill tabled in 2016 was finally approved by the Senate last week to change the second line in our national anthem.
The controversy is over two words in O Canada and will now see the line “in all thy sons command” replaced with the more gender-neutral “in all of us command.” The changing of the lyrics has been up for debate in the House of Commons since it was introduced by the late Mauril Belanger, a Liberal MP who passed away in 2016. Before his death Belanger wrote that he wanted “to pay tribute to all women who have fought to build and shape Canada.”
Battlefords-Lloydminster MP Rosemarie Falk told battlefordsNOW that she did not agree with the changes to the anthem. The bill was passed through the House before she was elected.
“Personally, I oppose the change and Canadians have told the members of Parliament that they were opposed as well but again the government refuses to listen,” Falk said. “The people have told us that our anthem is a symbol of our identity and it is important to them.”
Falk, who took her seat in the House of Commons last week as the MP for the riding, said the gender reference in the anthem was not an issue for her.
“As a woman, I didn’t have a problem singing “in all thy sons command,” Falk added. “When I sing O Canada, it’s the version I know which is what I was taught in school.”
The original lyrics to the 1908 Robert Stanley Weir version of O Canada was “thou dost in us command” but was changed in 1914 to “in all thy sons command”.
Since 1980, there have been 12 bills brought before the House of Commons to make the anthem more gender-friendly by removing “sons” from the second line.
“I guess the question we need to ask ourselves now is when is it going to stop,” Falk said. “What other Canadian symbol that gives us our national identity will the government try to change?”
The last time the lyrics to O Canada were changed happened in 1980, when it was officially adopted as our national anthem when several repetitive phrases were replaced with “from far and wide” and "God keep our, glorious and free.”
The legislation to change the lyrics now requires formal royal assent to become law.
On Twitter: @RJWtheReporter
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