Last week the House of Commons approved a change to the text of our national anthem.
While usually inadvisable, altering national symbols is not necessarily wrong, though certainly requiring much deliberation.
But whatever the validity of the proposed change, it must be made clear that it does nothing for its stated goal of improving gender equality. We have sung the offensive phrase for a century with no thought of excluding women. We mention only ‘sons’, but we mean all Canadians. Using masculine words with a general reference is, in fact, common in our language.
Word choice is especially important in poetry, where more than just the literal meaning is at stake. The current text is a great improvement: the words we know are easier to sing than either Dr. Weir’s original (‘thou dost in us’) or the new proposal (‘in all of us’). Our parliamentarians fail as poets.
Far from demonstrating any superior notion of inclusiveness, proponents of the change show that they lack the ability to understand basic English. Is it wishful thinking to hope that the Senate will show more common sense?