O Canada: Senate backs gender-neutral changes to national anthem

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image captionCanada considered a similar move in 2010

The Canadian Senate has passed a bill that changes the text of the English-language version of the national anthem to make it gender-neutral.

It now awaits royal assent by the governor general to become law.

The move is set to change the words "in all thy sons command" to "in all of us command" in the anthem, O Canada.

The private member's bill from 2016 had stalled in the Senate as Conservatives fought its passage, but it won approval on a voice vote on Wednesday.

The fight to change two words in the lyrics of O Canada has stirred a passionate debate.

A similar plan was rejected in 2010 by the Conservatives, who then held the majority in parliament.

The new bill was first introduced in 2016 by Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, who had been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) and who died later that year.

Since 1980, when O Canada officially became the country's anthem, 12 bills had been introduced in the House to strip the reference to "sons", but all attempts had failed until now, CBC reports.


A group of women including author Margaret Atwood and former Prime Minister Kim Campbell who launched a new campaign in 2013 to have the changes implemented said at the time a revision to O Canada's lyrics would "encapsulate the equality of all Canadians".

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But not all Canadians welcomed the changes.

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The song was first performed in 1880, with several different versions of the lyrics emerging in the coming years, according to Canadian Heritage.

Originally composed with French lyrics, O Canada became the country's national anthem in 1980.

The English version of the song at one point contained the line "thou dost in us command", which was revised in 1913 to "in all thy sons command".

The French version does not have a reference to sons.

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