One thing you have to hand to the federal Conservatives – they sure know when to drop a hot potato. As soon as possible, if not sooner.
Other than the announced intention to change some of the words in O Canada, the throne speech got pretty good approval ratings from Canadians, according to a survey released this week by The Canadian Press Harris-Decima.
Many of the items from the speech got a favourable nod, but the survey found that 74 per cent opposed a rewording of the national anthem to make it more gender neutral. The offending line – among the biggest news items last week – was “in all thy sons’ command.”
Perhaps it was some of the lame substitutes floated along with the idea that underwhelmed the populace. But obviously it wasn’t a change a lot of Canadians had on their radar.
Doubtless a look at national anthems elsewhere would suggest outdated sentiment. God Save the Queen (or King) is as much about maintaining an upper hand over her or his enemies as it is wishing her or him good health.
We sing anthems because we grew up with them. They’re among the first songs we learn and we associate them with the country we love. Altering them is bound to make many bristle.
Canadians have occasionally been presented with changes to the national anthem in past decades. Thus, it’s difficult to say why this proposal struck such a raw nerve among so many. Perhaps this case was citizens advising elected people to stick with the business of governing.
Make no mistake: women, in fact, people of both genders want to see more equality in areas such as employment opportunities, salaries and general attitudes.
But the quaint wording of a lyric written in the 19th century is just that: a reflection of turns of phrase back then. The measure of true equality is still waiting in the wings, and achieving it will be a far greater challenge than a line change.