Why Canada is changing its national anthem

Canada is making lyrical changes to its anthem to promote gender equality. Similar changes were rejected just a few years ago. What’s changed?

Patriotic love for Canada will no longer be in its “sons command” – at least not exclusively – according to a parliamentary vote.

Lawmakers in the House of Commons agreed yesterday to amend the country’s national anthem “O Canada” and replace the gender-specific phrase “in all thy sons command” with “in all of us command” in the English version. Members then stood and sang the anthem in both French and English, Reuters reports.

Speaking to reporters before the vote, Status of Women Minister Patty Hajdu hailed the measure as one that would foster inclusivity.

“I think it’s really important as a very strong symbol of our commitment to gender equality in this country,” she said.

Gender equality has been a cornerstone of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s leadership since the Liberal party politician was elected last fall. Mr. Trudeau is the first prime minister to select a cabinet composed of an equal number of men and women, a move that triggered positive international notice after footage of his response to a reporter asking why he did this went viral.

“Because it’s 2015,” Trudeau quipped in reply at the time.

The measure to change the anthem was introduced by a member of Trudeau’s party, MP Mauril Bélanger of Ottawa. The Liberals control the House of Commons, where the bill passed easily. It is expected to pass the next round of approval in the Senate.

Six years ago, the public “overwhelmingly” did not want the change, according to a statement at the time from Dimitri Soudas, the press secretary for Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

So what’s changed?

“The moment has changed,” answers Nancy Peckford, executive director of Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization that advocates for gender equality in Canadian politics. “The culture in and around Canadian Parliament has shifted to allow for this conversation in a more concerted way. There is better awareness and more openness.”

Full article: Why Canada is changing its national anthem (The Christian Science Monitor)

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