The Canadian Senate passed a bill to make the Canadian national anthem more inclusive on Wednesday, according to CBC News. Written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908, “O Canada” became the national anthem in 1980. Since that time, twelve different bills have been brought to improve its verbiage, but none have achieved success in that endeavour until now.
The idea was to remove “in all thy sons command” and to replace it with “in all of us command” so that the national anthem would no longer include exclusive gendered language. The bill was initially introduced by former MP Mauril Bélanger in 2016, which same year saw it experience predominate support in the House of Commons, which it passed through. This present bill will now move on as subject to the royal approval of the Governor General Julie Payette before becoming the law of the land.
Senator Frances Lankin of Ontario, the Upper House sponsor of the bill, raves “I’m very, very happy. There’s been 30 years plus of activity trying to make our national anthem, this important thing about our country, inclusive of all of us… This may be small, it’s about two words, but it’s huge … we can now sing it with pride knowing the law will support us in terms of the language. I’m proud to be part of the group that made this happen.”
Senator Chantal Petitcler, who is a former Paralympian, with 14 gold medals in wheelchair racing, expressed her joy over the passage of the bill say that she is “jealous” of athletes who will be going to compete in Pyeongchang at the upcoming games as they will at last get to sing a gender neutral anthem in the words “I had the privilege to be on the podium many times and I never had the chance to sing ‘In all of us command, I can only imagine what they’ll feel when they’re on the step of that podium … it’s an amazing moment.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ecstatically praised the bill as it passed the Senate floor in a tweet
Mauril’s bill to make O Canada gender neutral passed third reading in the Senate tonight – another positive step towards gender equality. #inallofuscommand
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 1, 2018
Conservative opposition, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so elated about the course that was followed by lawmakers in scoring this progressive achievement for the Canadian anthem, as Senator Leo Housakos relates “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”.
Senator Lankin brought a motion in the Senate Tuesday night to close the debate and push the bill along to a vote, after 18 months of debate in the Red Chamber.