Bill to make O Canada gender neutral passes final Commons vote

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Canadian MPs have given final approval to a bill to make changes to the country’s national anthem to make it gender-neutral.

The House of Commons gave cross party support to a bill, tabled by Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, which tweaks the country’s national anthem O Canada.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 225 to 74 on a free vote thanks to a cross-party coalition of support, would scrap the line “True patriot love in all thy sons command”.

Instead, the anthem will include the line “True patriot love in all of us command”.

The move was staunchly opposed by some conservative MPs, but historians pointed out the original line was “thou dost in us command” – while the French version does not refer to ‘sons’ at all.

Bélanger, who has a fatal diagnosis of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was present for the Commons final vote.

After the vote, the House of Commons stood to sing the national anthem.

The bill will now go to the Senate for approval.

Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth, who sponsors the bill in the Senate, says that she thinks it will have enough support to pass, but she isn’t sure when it will go for a vote, and if it will happen before the Senate rises for the summer.

When it passed its second reading, the country’s PM Justin Trudeau said: “I was proud to vote for Mauril Bélanger’s bill to make O Canada gender neutral. It passed second reading tonight and now goes to committee.”

New Democrat MP Christine Moore explained of the change: “We are in 2016. The Canadian population will understand why we want to make the change.

“It is not a big change, and there will not be a big difference in the national anthem, but the difference is significant for women all across Canada.”

Prime Minister Trudeau – who came to power in Canada last year –  has put equality at the heart of his leadership: appointing a diverse, expert-led gender-balanced cabinet, speaking out against homophobia, and becoming the first Canadian PM to march at Pride.

He also made history by flying a rainbow flag from Parliament Hill, and announced a raft of new trans rights protections that will bolster anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of gender identity.