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There has been some resistance to changing the lyrics of the national anthem to ensure the patriotism of men, women, girls and boys alike is invoked with the words "in all of us command." Some, including NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, believe messing with a good thing will invite a flood of grievances about the lyrics that O Canada could not withstand. That defies the history of the song.

O Canada was a favourite for decades, treated as the de facto national song long before Parliament in 1980 officially recognized it as the national anthem. It, in fact, underwent numerous alterations since Montreal judge Robert Stanley Weir in 1908 penned English lyrics to the French song, which put to music an 1880 poem by another Quebec jurist, Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. Judge Weir's original song was inclusive, noting the nation called upon the true patriot love that "thou dost in us command." In 1913, for unknown reasons, this was changed to "in all our sons command."

This is an evident problem. A group of thoughtful Canadian women once again is calling upon the Harper government to restore the original lyrics, in a modern form, to recognize all of Canada's patriots, men and women. The demand has been rebuffed before, without basis. Women have been excluded for 100 years now. It is time to bring them back into the anthem's fold.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 3, 2013 A14

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