Ottawa to vote on making "O Canada" lyrics gender-neutral

Dec 19 2017, 8:12 pm

Members of Parliament will vote on a proposed bill to amend the lyrics of the Canadian national anthem in an effort make it gender-neutral.

On Monday, Ottawa-Vanier Liberal MP Mauril Belanger introduced a bill to have O Canada’s English lyrics “True patriot love in all thy sons command” changed to “True patriot love in all of us command.”

In effect, the proposed new lyrics would make the anthem more inclusive as it currently suggests only male loyalty is being invoked.

This would not be the first time changes have been made to the lyrics to Justice Robert Stanley Weir’s 1908 song. In 1914, “thou dost in us command” was changed to the current lyrics “in all thy sons command” for no documented reason.

For decades, ‘O Canada’ complemented ‘God Save The Queen’ as Canada’s ‘unofficial’ national anthem. It was not only until 1980 that ‘O Canada’ was formalized by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau as the nation’s official anthem.

The campaign to change two words in the lyrics began a year ago when former primer minister Kim Campbell and author Margaret Atwood launched the “Restore Our Anthem” initiative to address the words. They argued the anthem is a ‘living document’ that can be changed over time to reflect the evolving character and values of Canada.

However, the bill is considered a low priority in the House of Commons and the majority Conservative government has already indicated that its MPs will oppose the bill in any vote.


Current lyrics to O Canada

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

Proposed lyrics changes to O Canada

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.


Feature Image: Child Canadian flag painted face via Shutterstock

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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