O Canada lyrics under review

Get ready to memorize new words to
the national anthem.

Parliament is to be asked to review
the “original gender-neutral wording of the national anthem,” says
the throne speech delivered by Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean.
O Canada includes the lyrics “true patriot love in all thy sons
command,” and there may be interest in changing that line to something
more inclusive.

O Canada, with music composed by
Calixa Lavallée in 1880, became the national anthem in 1980, replacing God Save
the Queen.

Its English lyrics have been
adapted several times over the years, but the current version is based on a
poem written in 1908 by Stanley Weir.

It begins: “O Canada Our home
and native land! True patriot love thou dost in us command. We see thee rising
fair, dear land, The True North strong and free.”

The official English version now in
use incorporates changes recommended in 1968 by a joint committee of MPs and
senators that added the lines “from far and wide” and “God keep
our land glorious and free!”

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff
said the initiative to change the lyrics is the kind of “symbolic
gesture” the Conservative government makes when it doesn’t want to do
anything real.

“Anything that makes a
national anthem more gender-sensitive is a good thing,” he told CBC News.

“But, I mean, no disrespect to
those who feel strongly on this issue, but, for heaven’s sake, we have some
very important challenges and every time the government is asked to do
something real, it does something symbolic.

“There’s lots of things to do
for women that are more important than changing the words of the national
anthem, just as there are lots of things to do for pensioners and seniors that
are more important than having a Seniors Day.”

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