Chilliwack-Hope constituents are being surveyed to see if the national anthem O Canada should be made more gender neutral — or kept the way it is.
Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl said more than 1,000 of his constituents have already weighed in.
His latest survey is about Bill C-210, to amend the National Anthem Act, to change the lyrics of O Canada from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.”
The bill launched by MP Mauril Bélanger, made it to the Senate after being approved. But MP Strahl voted against it in the House of Commons at the time, in part because of feedback he received from constituents.
“Of all our Canadian symbols, O Canada is one of the most prominent expressions of our national identity,” stated MP Strahl.
A change of this magnitude should be considered carefully, he said.
“While this bill was rushed through the House of Commons with limited debate, one hour of witness testimony and almost no consultation with Canadians, the Senate of Canada is now taking a second look at it and proposing to make amendments,” said Strahl.
The fight by its author, Bélanger, who championed equality, took on urgency when he was diagnosed with ALS. The MP passed away last August at the age of 61.
But Bélanger said initially he felt the two-word change would actually return the lyric closer to the original which was “thou dost in us command,” which was changed to “all thy sons” in 1913, in reference to the armed forces.
Strahl’s survey consists of one question: “Do you think the lyrics of our Canadian national anthem should be changed?”
“I believe that O Canada is a national symbol that belongs to Canadians, not politicians,” concluded MP Strahl. “I value the opinions of my constituents and I want to bring a strong message back to Ottawa.”
On the website Strahl explains further: “Those who support the bill argue that our anthem could be more gender inclusive, and that this change could accurately reflect our nation in today’s context.
“Those who oppose the bill argue that our anthem is a sacred national symbol, a part of our identity, and the battle song of our brave men and women in uniform, which should not be changed.”
Deadline for the survey May 31. Go to www.markstrahl.com/national_anthem