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Thursday, March 4, 2010

A gender neutral anthem?

There has been a surprising amount of ink and airtime given to the line in yesterday’s throne speech which stated, “Our Government will also ask Parliament to examine the original gender-neutral wording of the national anthem.” The reference apparently is to the phrase, “…in all thy sons command …” [emphasis mine].

Many conservatives and Conservatives are taken aback and don’t want to see the anthem changed. Others claim its much to-do about nothing and that it’s a trivial distraction from much more important issues. Still others make jokes about the need for change and what the change might be.

I recently had reason to recall the death in Afghanistan last year of Trooper Karine Blais, who died in a roadside bomb explosion near Kandahar City. And today I wonder—when she or her female comrades in arms stood proudly at attention while the anthem played—did just a very tiny part of any of them question why the anthem could not have explicitly included her with more gender-inclusive wording?

I remember how proud I felt when I stood in a Canadian uniform and saluted the flag or listened to the anthem. Never did I have the slightest shadow of doubt about who was being represented by those symbols. And it would break my heart to think that some young woman wearing our uniform felt that the words of the anthem symbolically excluded her, especially if she were about to lay down her life for Canada. Symbols such as flags and anthems have far more meaning when you face the possibility of dying for them.

For me, if a minor word change can for just a single Canadian eliminate even a shadow of doubt over who is symbolically represented in our anthem, then make the change.

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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2 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. Lets change it BACK to what it once was, The Maple Leaf Forever - The MLF is one great and rousing song! I only wish we were a nation with enough spine to have it as our anthem. Instead we must suffer the slings and arrows or outrageous revisionist history that brought us to where we are today. UP THE RED ENSIGN! – The Maple Leaf Forever!

    In days of yore, from Britain’s shore,
    Wolfe, the dauntless hero, came
    And planted firm Britannia’s flag
    On Canada’s fair domain.
    Here may it wave, our boast and pride
    And, joined in love together,
    The thistle, shamrock, rose entwine
    The Maple Leaf forever!

    Chorus:
    The Maple Leaf, our emblem dear,
    The Maple Leaf forever!
    God save our Queen and Heaven bless
    The Maple Leaf forever!

    At Queenston Heights and Lundy’s Lane,
    Our brave fathers, side by side,
    For freedom, homes and loved ones dear,
    Firmly stood and nobly died;
    And those dear rights which they maintained,
    We swear to yield them never!
    Our watchword evermore shall be
    “The Maple Leaf forever!”

    Chorus

    Our fair Dominion now extends
    From Cape Race to Nootka Sound;
    May peace forever be our lot,
    And plenteous store abound:
    And may those ties of love be ours
    Which discord cannot sever,
    And flourish green o’er freedom’s home
    The Maple Leaf forever!

    Chorus

    On merry England’s far famed land
    May kind heaven sweetly smile,
    God bless old Scotland evermore
    and Ireland’s Em’rald Isle!
    And swell the song both loud and long
    Till rocks and forest quiver!
    God save our Queen and Heaven bless
    The Maple Leaf forever!

    Chorus

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  2. For me, if a minor word change can for just a single Canadian eliminate even a shadow of doubt over who is symbolically represented in our anthem, then make the change.


    Absolutely NOT.

    Do that, and you lose my support completely. I've cut the current government a lot of slack because of their minority status, but this would be totally unnecessary and a direct slap in the face to all the real conservatives out there as well as people who despise political correctness.

    You can't gain anything from this politically (the people most likely to support this type of useless symbolism are the least likely to vote Conservative) but you could definitely end up losing more than you bargained for...

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