“O Canada” Lyrics to be Changed

Cameron Soltys - 3N Mechanical
Posted on: June 18, 2016

I first heard about the bill to remove gender bias from our national anthem, C-210, less than a week ago on a political podcast that I had just started listening to. I listened with passing interest as the journalist in my ear explained that there was a bill to change “True patriot love in all thy sons command” to “True patriot love in all of us command” making the rounds. The change, it was explained, was to remove a perceived slight; the current lyrics seem to suggest that Canada only commands love from its menfolk, or perhaps that it only needs to command love from the men.

The more I think about this change, the more I like it. This change may seem minor and inconsequential, and that’s because it is. This is not some radical law to remove gender inequality, championing in an era of true equality. It is part of an ever-necessary effort to update government policies and official documents to reflect modern trends. It is a way to acknowledge that the 20th century and before were full of discrimination against women, and that there are still many holdouts in the way we speak, act and sing that really ought to be rectified.

One criticism of this bill that I have seen online is that this is an attack on Canadian values. Some suggest that this is the government going into uber-politically-correct mode, bowing down to special interest groups to change something that everyone else is happy with. My response to this is to question if you’ll be any less happy with the new lyrics. The current lyrics are pretty arbitrary. There isn’t some group of people known as “the Sons” who fought in 1812, and singlehandedly turned back an American advance that would have otherwise have wiped British North America off the map forever. There is the fact that most soldiers in Canadian history have been men, but surely in our nation of innovation and technology it is not only our military feats O Canada should celebrate. There is also the fact that the original original O Canada used the gender-neutral line “True patriot love, thou dost in us command”. It was changed in 1914, which may or may not have been an encouragement to the hundreds of thousands of Canadian men who were going off to what would become one of the bloodiest conflicts ever.

As of Thursday, June 17, Bill C-210 has been passed by the lower house. Given that the summer break is coming up quickly, it is not certain that the bill will pass the Senate before Canada Day. Support for this bill is high in the Senate, and so it is expected to pass eventually. I will be cheerfully singing the new lyrics when it does.