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Canada changes national anthem lyrics to be gender-neutral

By Ray Downs
Rosannagh MacLennan holds the flag of Canada as she leads the athletes into the arena at the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics begins in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 5, 2016. On Wednesday, the Canadian Senate passed a bill that will make gender-neutral changes to lyrics in the country's national anthem. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Rosannagh MacLennan holds the flag of Canada as she leads the athletes into the arena at the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics begins in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 5, 2016. On Wednesday, the Canadian Senate passed a bill that will make gender-neutral changes to lyrics in the country's national anthem. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 1 (UPI) -- The Canadian Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that will make its national anthem gender-neutral.

The legislation will change the O Canada lyric "in all thy sons command" to "in all of us command."

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There have been 12 bills introduced in the Canadian legislature to make the change since 1980, but all attempts failed until Wednesday's vote, the CBC reported.

"I'm very, very happy. There's been 30 years plus of activity trying to make our national anthem, this important thing about our country, inclusive of all of us," said Independent Ontario Sen. Frances Lankin,a sponsor of the bill. "This may be small, it's about two words, but it's huge ... we can now sing it with pride knowing the law will support us in terms of the language. I'm proud to be part of the group that made this happen."

Wednesday's bill was introduced in 2016 by Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, who died two months after the bill passed the Commons that year, the Globe and Mail reported.

"Changing only two words...gives Canada an inclusive anthem that respects who we were and what we have become as a country," Bélanger said when he introduced his bill to the House in 2016. "As Canadians, we continually test our assumptions, and indeed our symbols. Our anthem can reflect our roots and our growth."

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On Wednesday night, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the bill's passage via Twitter.

"Mauril's bill to make O Canada gender neutral passed third reading in the Senate tonight - another positive step towards gender equality," Trudeau wrote.

Although the bill had support from liberals and independents, some conservatives said any changes to the national anthem should be put to a referendum.

"This is an issue for the Canadian public to decide not just a couple of Independent senators," Conservative Sen. Don Plett said.

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