Debate of national anthem lyrics is ‘moot’

Making the lyrics more inclusive does not reject tradition, but respects it

One of the more curious debates to flare up on our social media pages recently has been the discussion over changes to the lyrics in Canada’s national anthem.

That some are so passionate about preserving the existing lyrics is, perhaps, inspiring.

But it’s also a little misguided.

At issue is whether or not the words, “in all thy sons command” should be changed to, “in all of us command.”

The debate is a little moot. The House of Commons has already approved the change, and sent the legislation to the Senate for approval.

However, Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl is hoping the fight’s not over yet. He says there’s a chance the Senate might refer the issue back to the Commons for reconsideration. And when that happens, he and the results from his recent constituency association poll will be ready.

The questionnaire was mailed out to homes months ago. It asked residents, “Do you think the lyrics of our Canadian national anthem should be changed?”

Strahl says he was bothered by the lack of consultation. Something as important and emblematic as the national anthem should not be altered without national consent.

Others see it as yet another surrender to political correctness – a further emasculation of our national heritage.

Not quite.

In fact, the change better reflects the original version (at least the English translation from the original French). That version was changed in 1914 during a moment of patriotic fervour as Canada was sending its sons across the Atlantic to fight in The Great War.

The fact that the nation’s daughters were also serving overseas did not seem to bother anyone at a time when women were still denied the vote.

But times have changed. It’s simply not acceptable to exclude half the population in a song that is meant to embrace us all.

The fix is simple. And despite what some argue, it’s one that respects tradition, rather than rejects it.

Greg Knill, Chilliwack Progress

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