Canadian Senate Approves Gender-Neutral Lyrics for ‘O Canada’

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.

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…

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.

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.