Isabel Metcalfe, Chair of Famous 5 Ottawa today announced its membership’s support for Bill C-624, An Act to amend the National Anthem Act (gender),calling on all Members of Parliament to vote for the bill when it reaches the House of Commons April 29, 2015.
Famous 5 Ottawa – a volunteer organization that honours women as nation builders – believes that the national anthem should include all Canadians. Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Irene Parlby in 1929 ensured that women were recognized as Persons, clearing the constitutional obstacle that finally allowed Canadian women to be appointed to the Senate of Canada.
“The Famous Five remain the only Canadians that have successfully reformed the Senate of Canada. As Canada prepares for our 150th anniversary in 2017, let’s ensure that every single Canadian feels reflected in the wording of our national anthem and that on our big birthday, we can sing O Canada with every voice,” said Metcalfe.
The private members’ bill, sponsored by the Hon. Mauril Bélanger, proposes a simple change in the English version only. It proposes that “True patriot love in all thy sons command” become “True patriot love in all of us command.” This changes only two words: “thy sons” with “of us.” In fact, this would be a reversion to the original 1908 wording of the poem by Judge Stanley Weir, which ultimately became the English version of the anthem:
Our home and native land!
True patriot love thou dost in us command.
The rapidity with which the National Anthem Act was introduced, passed and given Royal Assent all on the same day in 1980 did not allow for sufficient consideration of concerns, such as the lack of inclusiveness in the English version. As well, the anthem was to have been revisited in the next Parliamentary session and that did not happen.
Since 1980, nine private members’ bills have been introduced to change the second line of the English anthem to include both women and men. Unfortunately, none have been debated or voted in the House of Commons, until now.