The lyrics to ‘O Canada’ are getting their first edit since 1926.
Yesterday, the Canadian Senate passed a bill that would give Canada’s national anthem a gender neutral update. Pending royal assent from the Queen, the lyrics “in all thy sons command” will be replaced by “in all of us command.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lauded the decision as a positive step towards gender equality.
Mauril’s bill to make O Canada gender neutral passed third reading in the Senate tonight – another positive step towards gender equality. #inallofuscommand
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 1, 2018
The proposed change was first introduced in 1990, when Toronto City Council formally recommended the Canadian government alter two lines of the anthem. (The other was changing “our home and native land” to “our home and cherished land”). At the time, Councillor Howard Moscoe argued “sons” implied “that women can’t feel true patriotism or love for Canada.”
A dozen attempts to change the lyrics has been made since, all of which were denied. The most recent proposal was passed by the House of Commons in 2016. It had stalled in the Senate in the face of Conservative opposition before yesterday’s decision.
Twitter, of course, was ablaze with hot takes on the matter…
— Prem 🇨🇦👌🏻🙏🏻💕 (@Prem_S) February 1, 2018
Exciting news! The Senate just passed Bill C-210 changing the words to O Canada to the gender-neutral “in all of us command” Thanks to the late Mauril Belanger whose dream is now fulfilled.
— Pam Damoff 🇨🇦 (@PamDamoff) January 31, 2018
Was there really a great outcry amongst Canadians to change the lyrics to "O Canada", or was this an extended and expensive PR stunt for politicians?
— Crumbsworth (@MrCrumbsbody) February 1, 2018
They made O Canada gender neutral.
People of course throw a fit.
They changed what, a single line? Suck it up. How often do you sing it, and how important is that one small part of it that it really bothers you that much?
— Nefarious Seraph (@KamiNoKageNS) February 1, 2018
— Anthea Keenan (@SwingingJam) February 1, 2018
Controversy was not limited to simply changing the lyrics, either. Many also criticized the manner in which the vote came to be.
Independent Ontario Senator Frances Lankin introduced what’s called a “dilatory motion” to end debate on the matter and push it directly to a vote on Tuesday. The majority of Canada’s Conservatives considered this to be an affront to democracy.
“When a majority of individuals decide to shut down discourse in this place, democracy dies. We need to be very wary of tools that muzzle debate … that is the fundamental right you have, to get up and speak on any piece of legislation, none of us have the right to take that away,” said Conservative Senator Leo Housakos before the vote.
— Sen. Denise Batters (@denisebatters) January 31, 2018
When it came time to vote, the chamber was filled almost exclusively with Independents and Liberals as Conservatives boycotted the occasion.
It remains to be seen which hockey team will be the first to adopt the revised anthem during their pre-game routine.