Politics

MPs debate changing O Canada to gender neutral language

MPs debated an effort by dying Liberal Mauril Belanger to render the national anthem gender-neutral, by replacing the line in the English version "in all thy sons command" with "in all of us command."

Bill would change 'in all thy sons command' to 'in all of us command' in English version of anthem

Ottawa-Vanier MP Mauril Belanger's bill would change the lyrics of the English version of O Canada. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The lyrics to O Canada were a hot topic in the House of Commons tonight.

MPs debated an effort by dying Liberal Mauril Bélanger to render the national anthem gender-neutral, by replacing the line in the English version "in all thy sons command" with "in all of us command."

Belanger, a long-time Ottawa MP, has seen his health deteriorate since he learned last fall he has an incurable and fatal neurogenerative disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

He introduced his private member's bill in January using a voice generator that converts text into computerized speech, the first time one had been used in the Commons.

The Conservatives thwarted an attempt to pass the bill quickly earlier this month, with Liberals accusing their rivals of killing the chance for Belanger to see his bill pass while he is still able to enjoy it.

Conservative MP Erin O'Toole says he is sympathetic to Belanger's situation, but is against the bill because he does not believe Canada should change important parts of its heritage, even when they have fallen behind the times.

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