Some Canadian senators are urgently trying to stop Canada from having a “gender neutral” national anthem that they say will sound “clunky, leaden and pedestrian.”
If not blocked or amended, a bill winding its way through the Canadian Parliament will render “O Canada” into a statement of political correctness. The bill has already passed through the elected House of Commons, where it was introduced by now-deceased Liberal Member of Parliament Mauril Bélanger.
Even Liberal Senator Joan Fraser, who calls herself an “ardent feminist,” is opposed to the new phrasing that she says reflects poor grammar and is a silly effort to force “today’s values” on a song that was written in a different era.
“It’s a fine example of what happens when you let politicians meddle,” she said of Bill C-210, the National Anthem Act. “Politicians are not usually poets.”
The Liberal MP who sponsored the bill died last summer from Lou Gehrig’s Disease. His changes include excising the phrase “all thy sons command” and replacing it with “all of us command.”
The Liberal government and third-party New Democrat opposition supported the bill while the official opposition Conservatives largely opposed it.
Now, one year later, the bill has succeeded in reaching a third reading in the Senate and will receive royal assent if approved there and become law.
The Senate has enough legislative mechanisms at its disposal to keep the bill in limbo indefinitely if opposition warrants.
Those supporting the “non-sexist” national anthem want to see the the changes approved before July 1 this year, when Canada celebrates the 150th anniversary of confederation — the date that the country achieved its virtual independence from Great Britain.
Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald calls the legislation “sloppy” and not worthy of being passed into law.
“If we are constantly revising everything because it was written in another generation, our national symbols will have no value. Our history means nothing in this country anymore, and it’s a shame that we’re doing this,” he told CBC News. “The Senate should not be reticent in defending and preserving the heritage of Canada.”
Fraser agrees. She’s a former journalist and editor and says it is just as inappropriate to begin amending an historical song as it would be to rewrite history.
“If we are to become engrossed in the idea that we must at all times be correctly modern, we lose a part of our heritage,” Fraser said in a Senate speech.
“It may not be a perfect heritage — I’m not suggesting it is — but it is ours. I suggest that it deserves respect and acceptance for what it is: imperfect but our own.”