Don't look now, but they're messing with the song again.
Yup, it turns out that, in the minds of at least one group of our fellow citizens, Canada's national anthem is sexist and long overdue for a revision. Not content with being told no repeatedly in the past, this group has launched a new effort to get the federal government to officially change the words to O Canada.
And the dirty, four letter word is - wait for it - sons.
Yup, apparently in the minds of half of the nation's population, they feel left out and alienated because of the line "In all thy sons command."
A group of prominent women - including former prime minister and electoral dynamo Kim Campbell and pulp fiction maven Margaret Atwood - is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the rest of our elected federal officials to redact
the offending word in favour of a more inclusive, gender-neutral phrasing.
Citing the original, 1908 lyric "thou dost in us command," these rabble rousers want the reworded anthem to be, "In all of us command." The original words to the anthem were tweaked in 1913 for some now vague reasons and have remained that way ever since.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the inclusion of the offensive word, the women are lobbying for another change. Since the original lyrics were not sexist, why keep a word in the anthem that openly devalues the contributions of generations of Canadian women? Well, I guess it is a neater package than the even more inclusive alternative - "In all our sons, daughters, castratos, transgendered and pre-op transsexuals command."
Fair point, but there's probably a couple of other more pressing issues for the government to tend to first - the listless economy, senate scandals, oil sands and pipelines, defence spending screw-ups, waiting times for health care and a spy scandal with Brazil, to name a few.
Oops, but even if the change is approved, then we are still left with the word "command" in the lyric. Must have overlooked that one.
Bad, bad, bad. Nope, command infers a hierarchical structure devoid of equality and harmony for which we all strive. (Except when we're buying tickets to a Canucks game. Then money is all that matters - let the poor sit in the nosebleeds, the rich deserve the extra amenities that come with club seats.) Not only is it hierarchical, it has a distinct military edge to it, something that belies our belief in ourselves as a nation of peacekeepers.
Let's replace that one with "groove harmoniously."
OK, all good? Whoa, not so fast. I don't know how we missed it, but since we're making changes, shouldn't we do something about the "g" word.
You know, (shudder) god. As in, "God keep our land glorious and free!" Doesn't that smack of religious intolerance? Are we talking the Christian god, the Islamic god, the Sikh god or the Hebrew god? And what about the pantheon of Hindu gods? Surely this lyric shortchanges them.
And then there are the Mormons, where everybody gets to become a god.
Even more culturally divisive, with god in the lyrics, will O Canada still be sung before Montreal Canadiens games in light of the Parti Quebecois' proposed Charter of Values? That little scrap of parchment is dedicated to marching Quebec down the path of state secularism where all religious symbols and overtones are banished from public places.
Oh wait, the French language version does not contain the word god - problem averted. But then again, it does contain the words cross, sword and the phrase, "valour steeped in faith." Have fun with that one Premier Marois.
Come on people; get over it. It's one four-letter word that is not intended to exclude anybody. The song is more than a century old and obviously is not hip to our current vernacular - hence the repeated use of the word "thee" in the lyrics. When they inserted the word "sons" into the lyrics 100 years ago, the goal was not to alienate anyone. Sons in this case is a colloquialism to mean all of the citizens of the Canada regardless of gender or ethnicity.
Fighting for a petty semantic change is just a waste of energy for everyone involved.
Now if an anthem lyric debate is what you are looking for, check out the second line in O Canada. It currently stands as "our home and native land," but for the sake of accuracy, should it not read "our homes on native land?" Discuss.
Michael Booth is the Now's Sports editor and can be reached at email@example.com
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