Liberal and Independent Canadian senators voted Wednesday to change the lyrics to “O Canada,” making the Canadian national anthem gender neutral, fulfilling the dying wish of Liberal MP Mauril Belanger.
The Senate has given its final approval to the legislation, which would change the second line of the anthem from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.”
The legislation now only requires formal royal assent before it becomes law.
Belanger pushed the legislation for years, but it took on far greater urgency after he was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, following the 2015 federal election.The Commons passed the bill in June 2016, with the ailing Belanger in the House.
The longtime Liberal died just over two months later.
Due to delays by Conservative senators, the bill has been debated in the Senate for 18 months. A number of Conservative senators boycotted Wednesday’s vote, where senators introduced a controversial motion called a “dilatory motion” to shut down debate and immediately vote on the bill.
Conservatives have accused their Liberal and Independent colleagues of stifling their right to continue vocal opposition to the bill in debate, and some have called for a referendum on the lyrics change.
According to information, “O Canada” has been the country’s national anthem since 1980, and many attempts have been made to change the “all thy sons” lyrics.
The song has been changed multiple times in the past.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has been an outspoken advocate for gender equality, tweeted that the passage of the bill is a “positive step.”
After it won Senate approval on a voice vote Wednesday after a pair of procedural votes, the office of Conservative Senator Larry Smith sent out a statement saying “so-called Independent senators” had shut down debate “using tools never before applied by individual senators.
“In protest of these illegitimate actions, the Senate Conservative caucus refused to participate in a series of votes this evening,” a spokesman for Smith said in the statement.
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