The Amusing and the Absurd

by | January 31, 2016

Peter Marsh’s tongue-in-cheek response to Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger’s bill to change the words ”all thy sons command” in “O Canada” to “all of us command” is amusing but oh so familiar:

Since the beginning of this country, 49% of the population has always dictated the customs and identity to the remaining 51% and that shouldn’t end. That’s not sexism; that’s tradition.

My grandpappy fought in many battles throughout Canada mostly on his leather chair lecturing to any family member who would listen about the dangers of granting suffrage to the ‘lesser sex’.

Every family has had a male relative who, from his seat at the head of the table, argued against giving women an equal place in Canada or the world. 

Marsh goes on to say (satirically)

We need to put a stop to this politically correct society that feels we need to acknowledge women as a part of our historical identity or are actual people.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just male armchair warriors who want to preserve patriarchy and maintain tradition. Karen Vecchio, Conservative MP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, plans to oppose Bélanger’s bill because “she views the anthem as a tradition that should be maintained.”

What other traditions does Vecchio want resurrected? Does Vecchio have no sense of history and no appreciation for the women who came before her and fought against the straight jacket of tradition?

Peter Marsh’s Beaverton article, “My Grandfather Didn’t Fight Suffragettes Just to Give Women a Gender-Neutral O Canada” is amusing. Karen Vecchio’s argument that women should be left out of Canada’s national anthem because of “tradition” is absurd. It’s time for Vecchio to update her calendar. It’s not 1916; it’s 2016.

16 thoughts on “The Amusing and the Absurd

  1. Jenny

    This has nothing to do with tradition ..I find it offensive that anyone would even suggest changing the original words just to be politically correct.. So I guess now we need to change all literature and songs that don’t fit the 2016 definition of politically correct. Classical novels, Shakespeare …ancient songs and poems …lets just change it all in keeping with 2016. While we are at it why not start tearing down historical buildings because they don’t fit a modern concept. The whole idea makes me sick and I consider myself a modern woman, but unlike some, I have respect for the past and words written in the past should remain as they are written out of respect for the authors.

    1. Shawn the Humanist

      To expand on Veronica’s point in her response to you: It’s not our historical anthem, it’s our current anthem. That also counts for something. Shouldn’t it represent who we are, and not who we were?

      But do follow Veronica’s links. They are very informative. You might be surprised about the history of the changes to the national anthem in the same way American are surprised when they find out ‘Under God’ was added to their pledge.

      1. Joe

        “A national anthem (also state anthem, national hymn, national song etc.) is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation’s government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.”

  2. Joe

    Are you satirically comparing the right to vote… To song lyrics?
    My guess is you would be hard pressed to find a Canadian who even knew all the words.
    Even voter turnout rates aren’t that bad.

        1. Veronica Abbass Post author

          Oh, that person

          A long time ago, in a land of ice and snow, it was a “tradition” that women were not allowed to vote. Now someone, a few people actually, is using the tradition word to deny women a place in the anthem.

          The fact that few people know all the words is not an argument against including women.

          1. Joe

            Comparing not including women in a song, that few people even know the lyrics to, with not including women in the political process of the country they live in… Seems absurd to me.

  3. Tim Underwood

    We’re all natives of Canada. I like that. It sort of sidelines recent immigrants. That’s not so nice. I still like the anthem. Maybe we need an updated one. What is it that we actually love about this place? I had a grandfather who survived the Great War and a father-in-law who survived the second coming of that original European bloodbath. They both had a real fondness for this place. Maybe just because it wasn’t Europe!

    1. Shawn the Humanist

      The first sentence says it’s tongue-in-cheek. She was agreeing with the satirical point in view.

  4. Randy

    “Every family has had a male relative who, from his seat at the head of the table, argued against giving women an equal place in Canada or the world”

    Citation needed. If not satire, this shows a lack of understanding of Canadian families, their varied origins, and their men. And that void of understanding is filled with prejudice.

    In any case, I favour the original version from 1914 or so, as sung by Henry Burr. There was no need to change it. But if we’re going to change it, let’s scrap the whole thing and get something fresh and not so boring.

  5. billybob

    Tradition is overrated. Social progress is based upon breaking tradition. Remember when it was traditional to demean and persecute gays? I do.

    Tradition may not be good thing, actually it is probably
    a negative. An absolute monarchy may be traditional but
    is it desirable?

    The traditional argument reminds me of the slippery slope

    1. Joe

      I don’t have much use for tradition, but that is sorta the whole point behind a national anthem. You’re not supposed to change it, that way you ensure everyone, however old or young, is singing the same thing. If we keep changing it, we might as well toss it. And it’s public domain, so you can add/use any lyrics you like as it is. Piles and piles of molehills.

    2. Tim Underwood

      The family structure will always be in a state of change. As you probably are aware, the selection of an improved trait is a rare event. Many changes will be tried and discarded but occasionally a few beneficial changes will survive. Also, some previously selected family traditions may become vestigial or even nonexistent.


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