News / Ottawa

The distinction of "us" versus "our" slows gender neutral anthem in the senate

Senate debate of wording could scuttle house plan passed almost a year ago.

Former Liberal MP Mauril Belanger pushed to pass the gender neutral anthem bill through the house before his death last year.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Former Liberal MP Mauril Belanger pushed to pass the gender neutral anthem bill through the house before his death last year.

"Us" versus "our" is a distinction worth battling over in Canada’s Senate this week as yet another amendment comes forward that could scuttle the move to make Canada’s national anthem gender-neutral.

Before his death, former Ottawa-Vanier MP Mauril Bélanger sponsored a bill, which passed the House almost a year ago, to change the line “in all thy sons command” to a more inclusive “in all of us command.”

Earlier this month, the Senate voted down an amendment from Conservative Sen. Don Plett proposing an additional tweak to change the lyrics to “thou dost in us command.”

The tinkering has continued, however, with a new amendment from Conservative Sen. Tobias C. Enverga to change “all of us command” with “all of our command”.

Enverga argued in the Senate last week that “us” is a grammatically incorrect pronoun with which to replace “thy sons.”

This led to a debate in the red chamber that included one senator citing an email from a high school English teacher who had been teaching her class about the issue.

Sen. Frances Lankin said all of these amendments and changes have just been an attempt to kill the changes some senators don’t want to see.

“As we are even closer to the end of the session, this is just untenable stalling tactics,” she said.

The amendments the senators have offered could create a significant problem if they were to pass. If the bill goes back to the House of Commons changed, it would need a new sponsor since Bélanger has passed away.

Procedure requires that happen with unanimous consent, which is unlikely because many MPs voted against the original bill. Enverga said in a statement sent to Metro he’s simply trying to write the best bill possible.

“It’s important to make sure, as responsible parliamentarians, that we take the time and complete our due diligence before passing this – or any bill – in to law.”

Lankin said she believes Enverga’s amendment will fail when a vote takes place Monday. She said whether the bill finally passes the Senate will come down to negotiations between parties this week. 

“There are a number of private members’ bills that people are hoping will get voted on and at some point the leaders are going to have to talk about what they agree to get done.”

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