Canada has changed the lyrics to its national anthem to make it gender neutral after a 30 year battle against conservative opposition.
The Senate voted on Wednesday to change the words “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command” in “O, Canada.”
Since “O, Canada” was officially made the country’s anthem in 1980, there have been 12 bills that have attempted to make the English lyrics gender neutral. This latest bill was crafted in 2016, and had stalled in the Senate, after passage in the House, due to conservative opposition.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau celebrated the news.
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 senators upset that the debate had been ended, after 18 months of debate and a vote, boycotted the vote. The bill passed easily on a voice vote.
“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,” said Independent Ontario Sen. Frances Lankin, who sponsored the bill. “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.”
The bill will become law following royal assent by the Governor General.
Retired Conservative senator Nancy Ruth put forward similar legislation in 2010, and was on hand to witness its passage on Wednesday.
“I’m feeling excited, and thrilled, and the Independents are fabulous,” she said.
She declined to comment on the Conservative senators boycotting the vote.
The anthem was written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908, and the lyrics have been updated in the past, including the addition of the gendered language by Weir after WWI. He changed “thou dost in us command” to “in all thy sons command.” The original French version does not include gendered language.