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The Globe and Mail

Conservatives ditch plan to revise anthem

O Canada will not change. The sexist lyrics remain.

The Harper government announced this afternoon that it is abandoning its promise to make the national anthem gender neutral by taking out the reference to "sons command" and replacing it with its original lyrics - "true patriot love thou dost in us command."

"The Government will not proceed any further to change our national anthem," the Prime Minister's official spokesman Dimitri Soudas said late this afternoon. "We offered to hear from Canadians on this issue and they have already spoken loud and clear."

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"They overwhelmingly do not want to open the issue.'

The suggestion to change the lyrics - one line in a 6,000 word Speech from the Throne - captured the imagination of Canadians. It also drew the ire of many in the Conservative base.

Coming right after the Olympic Games, during which Canadians were spontaneously erupting in renditions of O Canada on the streets of Vancouver and elsewhere, the Throne Speech suggestion proved controversial.

But there were many women, including those on the Conservative bench, who supported the idea of a change, given that many of the winning Canadian athletes were having to sing the sexist lyrics.

However, even some Liberals scoffed at it. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff questioned the necessity of the change when so many other issues around women's rights could be dealt with.

He called it a symbolic gesture.

(Photo: The Prime Minister sings the national anthem in Calgary last fall. Todd Korol/Reuters)

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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