Gender-neutral national anthem a first step to equality

CUSJ calls on MPs to vote in favour of bill C-624

TORONTO – Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ) is calling on Members of Parliament to vote today in favour of making Canada’s national anthem more inclusive to all Canadians, by supporting Private Members’ Bill C-624, An Act to Amend the National Anthem Act (Gender) introduced by MP Mauril Belanger (Ottawa-Vanier).

“It took decades of work and sacrifice before women were recognized as equal persons under the law in Canada,” said Margaret Rao, President of CUSJ. “Canadian women have earned equality so that today, the need for inclusive national symbols is a given. It is high time a symbol as important as our national anthem reflect – and be relevant to – all Canadians, and so it is crucial that it become more gender-neutral. Ironically, this small change would bring it closer to its original, pre-1980 wording.”

C-624 is scheduled to come to a final vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday. The bill makes a small, simple change to O Canada by changing the line “True patriot love in all thy son’s command” to “True patriot love in all of us command.”

“Further, Members of Parliament must have the courage to support changes to the anthem respecting the principle of separation of church and state, by removing any mention of a deity,” said Rao. “For example, by returning the anthem to its original words “O Canada, glorious and free” instead of the current “God keep our land glorious and free.” This is important to make our national anthem inclusive of – and relevant to – the 24% of Canadians who are irreligious…and the many more who believe in a god (or gods) entirely different from the Christian one invoked in it.”

“Symbols matter,” concluded Rao. “In a pluralistic, liberal democracy like Canada, the state should not favour any gender or religion. It is only in a neutral and inclusive state can all citizens – of any gender, religion, or cultural background – feel they truly belong.”

To see the original press release, click here.

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