Ask any Canadian to sing "O Canada," and some will probably tell you that they're late to work, so stop bothering them! Others, though, will happily sing the anthem, reciting every word from memory. Of course, in 2018 the anthem went through a change to make it more gender-neutral. So, how did Justin Trudeau change the anthem?

Short answer: he didn't. Yes, he was Prime Minister when the changes took place, but the bill to change the words of the anthem from "in all thy sons command" to "in all of us command" was actually introduced by Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger. Bélanger unfortunately passed away in 2016, two years before the bill would receive royal assent.

The bill was introduced in the House of Commons in January of 2016. At the time, Bélanger had been diagnosed with ALS and had lost his ability to speak. He introduced the bill using a text-to-speech program on an iPad. Though he had previously introduced the same bill in the previous parliament, it was voted down 144 to 127.  

The bill was sponsored by Independent Ontario Senator Frances Lankin, whose action of skipping debate and taking the bill straight to a vote drew criticism from Conservative senators. Sen. Denise Batters of Saskatchewan called it "Shameful, anti-democratic behaviour" on Twitter. The bill passed through the senate (the vote was boycotted by Conservative senators) and received royal assent on February 7, 2018.

Despite the debate surrounding the anthem at the time, the truth is that the song was gender-neutral when it was written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908. The lyric was actually "Thou dost in us command", as pointed out by Global's Chief Political Correspondent David Akin on Twitter. The lyric was changed by Weir to "in all thy sons command" in 1914.

Justin Trudeau may not have made the change himself, but he expressed support for it, writing on Twitter that it was "another positive step towards gender equality." 

Canada's national anthem has actually had a long history of lyrical changes, with Weir's version only officially becoming the anthem in 1980. 


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