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Canada now has a gender-neutral national anthem

February 02, 2018

The Canadian Senate passed a bill earlier this week making the country’s national anthem gender-neutral.

Senators passed legislation changing the second line of the national anthem, “O Canada,” from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.”

After the governor general gives the legislation royal assent, the change will become law.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the change is a “positive step towards gender equality.”

“Mauril’s bill to make O Canada gender neutral passed third reading in the Senate tonight – another positive step towards gender equality,” he tweeted Wednesday.

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Justin Trudeau (Twitter)

The bill was first passed by Canada’s House of Commons in 2016, but has been debated in the Senate for the past 18 months.

Over the past several decades, 12 bills have been introduced to the House to replace the word “sons” in the national anthem.

“I’m very, very happy,” the bill’s Senate sponsor, Independent Ontario Sen. Frances Lankin, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “There’s been 30 years-plus of activity trying to make our national anthem, this important thing about our country, inclusive of all of us. This may be small, it’s about two words, but it’s huge … We can now sing it with pride knowing the law will support us in terms of the language. I’m proud to be part of the group that made this happen.”

The bill was met with opposition by conservative members in the Senate.

“Shameful, anti-democratic behavior by #Trudeau-appointed senators, including #SenCA Speaker, as they shut down legitimate debate in Chamber,” tweeted Sen. Denise Batters.

Sen. Denise Batters (Twitter)

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Supporters of the legislation used a parliamentary procedure to move ahead with a vote before opponents of the bill could speak on the matter.

“Clearly, I’m disappointed,” Sen. Don Plett told the CBC. “It’s been a long fight, I believe the Canadian public wanted a say in our national anthem, just like they had in the great Canadian flag debate. This is an issue for the Canadian public to decide, not just a couple of Independent senators.”