from an expert in the field:
senator nancy ruth, from Ontario, has spoken extensively about
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and on issues concerning women’s rights, poverty, politics and economics.
Should patients have to pay
a $25 fee per doctor visit?
“O canada” has a mysterious history. The english lyrics, originally
written in 1908, by Robert stanley Weir, included both men and women
in spirit and in language: “O canada, our home and native land; True
patriot love thou dost in us command.” That’s 100-year-old english for
“in all of us command.” (The French lyrics always included both men
at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a competition to create a popular patriotic
song in english. When I went to school —from 1947 through 1960— we didn’t even have a
national anthem, and we sang “The Maple Leaf Forever” and “god save the King” when
Princess elizabeth came to town. Weir’s lyrics didn’t finally win until 1980, when canada
passed the national anthem act, and they had been changed several times on the way.
here’s the mystery. sometime before 1914, for reasons we don’t know, Weir changed his
original second line from “thou dost in us command” to “in all thy sons command.” Of course,
we were approaching the 1914–1918 war. Maybe he changed it to provide a recruiting tool for
young men. It’s also true that in those days in canada women were restricted from holding
public office and could not vote—women were not “persons” under the law—and suffragettes
were demanding the vote in 1913. But we just don’t know why Weir changed the lyrics.
In 1927, the year canada celebrated the 60th anniversary of confederation, the canadian
government published Weir’s 1914 version as canada’s english national anthem. (If you want
to know more, the canadian heritage website dealing with the anthem has a lot about the
anthem’s history. go to www.pch.gc.ca and click on “anthems and symbols.”)
so let’s return to the original english lyrics that included canadian women, our moms and
grandmothers. Let’s honour the four women who had ramp ceremonies in afghanistan:
nichola goddard, Michelle Medes, Karine Blais and Michelle Lang. The anthem doesn’t
include them, or the Olympic and Paralympic women who won so many gold medals, or all of
us who make this country such a special place to live. Let’s just include everyone, in the easiest
way, by restoring the original english. C
Percentage reflects votes received
from an expert in the field:
by July 15, 2010. Results may reflect
Debate being picked up by blogs.
c. Gwendolyn Landolt is the national vice president of REAL
Women of Canada ( www.realwomenca.com), a non-partisan, nondenominational organization for women.
In 2001, changes to canada’s national anthem were proposed by Liberal
senator Vivienne Poy (sister-in-law of former governor general adrienne
clarkson). her bill died because of lack of support. Behind this year’s push
to change our anthem is conservative senator nancy Ruth, an ardent femi-
nist who has long wanted the words “in all thy sons command” removed.
she charges that these words discriminate against women. In fact, the words
are generic and apply to everyone.
The March 3, 2010, Throne speech included a commitment to revisit the lyrics of the national
anthem, to the great delight of senator Ruth and her supporters. The canadian public, however,
The truth is that changing the anthem was a terrible idea. It was proposed a few days after
the Olympics in Vancouver, where our many gold medals inspired canadians from coast to
coast to sing our anthem with pride and joy.
Besides, once a parliamentary committee began to consider an anthem change, every spe-cial-interest group in the country would want to appear before it to promote their views.
atheists would not want god to remain in the anthem; the First nations would object to “our
home and native land.” canadians would be caught up in raucous debate filling the house of
commons. The divisive 1964 flag debate revisited! even so, senator Ruth warns that a plan to
change the anthem is still on the feminist agenda.
In 2001 a Globe and Mail–c TV poll found that 77 per cent of english-speaking canadians
opposed making the lyrics of our anthem more politically correct. In 2010 a cBc news poll
found that 86 per cent of canadians did not want the words of our anthem changed. canadians,
men and women alike, are increasingly uncomfortable with gender politics, especially when
patriotic symbols are endangered. C
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