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Conservative Senators Stall Gender Neutral Anthem Bill

Looks like the gender neutral anthem will not be ready for Canada’s 150th.

by Mack Lamoureux
Jun 28 2017, 3:28pm

Photo via flickr user Jiuguang Wang

An attempt to modernize the Canadian national anthem is being stalled by a group of Conservative senators because of course it is.

Bill C-210 was the brainchild of Liberal MP Mauril Belanger who, at the time, was suffering from ALS—many saw his attempt to pass this bill as the final act of a dying man. The bill easily went through the HOC in May of 2016, just months before Belanger died.

Now, the Conservative senators are flexing what little power the red chamber has to block his final act. So now, rather than being voted on before Canada celebrates its sesquicentennial a vote on the bill has now been pushed back to the fall. The change that has inflamed the senators is a simple one which would see Canadians sing "in all of us command" instead of "in all thy sons command." Belanger's goal wa to modernize the tune and give it more of a gender neutral approach.

Conservative Senator David Wells didn't pull punches when speaking to the CBC in regards to what he wants this stalling of the vote to accomplish.

"I don't misrepresent why I'm [using parliamentary stall tactics,]" Wells told CBC News. "I don't like this bill, and I will do what I can to ensure it doesn't pass."

Wells says that he's blocking the bill because he doesn't want Canada to turn its back on "tradition" and sees it as "political correctness run amok." The Conservative senator is not alone in his quest to keep the original language and is joined by around 20 other senators in opposition to the bill. Other senators have been incensed by the quickness the bill went through the House of Commons. Another Conservative senator, Michael MacDonald, told the CBC that while Belanger's death was "tragic" the government was acting like "the Children's Wish Foundation."

"This is just change for the sake of change, and just catering to a very narrow group of people who want to impose their agenda on everything," he said. "Leave the anthem alone."

Others have opposed the bill based on the awkward language arguing that if a change must be made it should be to "in all of our command" not "in all of us command."

O Canada was written, originally in French, in 1908, since being penned the English version has had it's lyrics revised several times—the French version still remains, essentially, a French-Canadian battle hymn. The tune was not adopted as the national anthem until 1980. This is not the first time that the government has looked at changing the "in thy sons" line, as failed attempts were made in 2002 and 2010.

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