Canada is looking to make its anthem gender-neutral for when it turns 150 in 2017 by replacing the line “true patriot love in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.” Even though the bill is supported by most MPs, it triggered a heated debate.
The change was proposed by the Liberal MP Mauril Belanger, who was diagnosed with a fatal neurogenerative disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) last fall.
“On the eve of the 150th anniversary of our federation, it is important that one of our most recognized and appreciated national symbols reflect the progress made by our country in terms of gender equality,” Belanger told the parliament on May 6.
No longer able to speak, Belanger delivered his speech via a text-to-speech app on his tablet. “This progress was slow and hard-won at times and it marked our country’s history. It should be celebrated in our national anthem.”
The bill was met with applause by many, but the Conservative Party, which voted down a similar bill in 2015 when it had a majority, was able to block an attempt to pass the bill without in-depth debate.
The Conservatives’ issue with the change is that it might open the door for more amendments in the future.