Ottawa MP Mauril Bélanger used a voice generator to introduce a private members' bill on Wednesday — marking the first time an MP has used such a device in the House of Commons.
The longtime Liberal MP introduced the same bill to make the English lyrics to O Canada gender neutral last session of Parliament, but it was defeated 144-127.
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Bélanger, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease last fall, is losing his voice. Also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the incurable disease causes a person to lose control of their muscles.
'By the way, Mr. Speaker, it is 2016.' - Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger
Bélanger has been using Speak Selection, a program on his iPad that reads out selected text in either a man or woman's voice, Danick Lafrance, a member of his staff, told CBC News.
The Office of the Speaker told CBC News that the device was used under a standing order that allows members with a disability to participate fully in the proceedings of the House.
Bélanger also uses the program to communicate with staff and is expected to use it to speak to his bill when it comes up for debate, likely in the spring, Lafrance said.
Bélanger is proposing to change two words, amending the line "in all thy sons command" to "in all of us command."
"This change would render the anthem gender neutral," Bélanger said in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
"By the way, Mr. Speaker, it is 2016," he concluded to a standing ovation.
Bélanger has been the MP for Ottawa–Vanier since a 1995 byelection.