Today I watched the Throne Speech and I was not particularly surprised by what I heard.
The speech amounted to colloquial pats on the back and vague generalizations regarding things that may have been done or will be done or will be or maybe has already been ‘looked into’ (like Francophone identity?). There seems to be a logical disconnect between Harper oddly mentioniong crime prevention (or rather ‘cracking down’) about 12x, while expressing maintained determination to abolish the long-gun registry. It was an hour long compared to the previous one which was 7 minutes. It was a terrible not-so-good speech. (maybe on purpose?) But dear me! the things the media I watch picked up on:
O! Canada? Really?
The lyrics to O!Canada haven’t offended me for non- gender-neutrality. Sure, non-gender-neutrality bothers me sometimes. And sometimes I’ll ask someone to not say ‘man’ when they mean ‘hu-man’ (oh! that was so hard to do). But not very often, really, overall, and I will still like you. What really got me was that I thought the line in question was a Jesus-thing. (and t. did too so I’m not the only one, I swear!)
When I was 5, I thought the lyrics were ‘true parrot love in all thy sons command’. Until today, I thought the lyrics were ‘True Patriot Love, In All Thy Sons Command’ meaning I like Canada and will do what Jesus says I should. Turns out, it may be ‘True Patriot Love, In All Our Sons Command’ meaning I like Canada and so will all my (male) children!
Neither interpretation concerns me historically. At the time, Jesus and misogyny were super popular. Today, I’m not sure if either concerns me.
For one, a lot of what th Canadian Government is about publicly is the pomp and circumstance of tradition. For instance, tuning into throne speech, one would see someone who looks like a mace, and Senators taking notes (!) in the House, while MPs shift from foot-to-foot under the press box and in the lobby.
So there is an argument for public displays of Canada being associated with foggy traditions and/or things that appear silly – like the loonie and, perhaps, the national anthem, which is often taught/learned phonetically and is not quite written of the stuff that Canadians sit and ponder the literal or deeper meaning of.
Then again, maybe language does matter (always?). Maybe it is a problem that on one interpretation, the national anthem is a blatant, public statement of a state in reverence of God/Jesus (could this simply mean ‘a god(dess)’? what about atheists? i don’t know), and on another, is all God-y and and lacking specific mention of women.
Ultimately, many Canadians are reverent of the national anthem and it makes them proud and happy to hear it, though really I don’t believe they keep track of the words. Is the wording a problem? Oh, let’s say maybe. Change it? Sure! Will anyone even really notice? But if you’re going to do it, please remove the blatant ‘God’ reference(s) while you’re at it because really, church and state oughta be separate.
So, gender-neutral anthem: Blog worthy? Clearly. 11 o’clock news-worthiest part of Canadian Politics today? Um, not really. (see instead: long gun registry & UN Declaration on Rights Of Indigenous People & what on earth does ‘recalibration’ even mean and why does it take two months ? etc…)