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A Canadian fan sings the national anthem before a women’s soccer game in Vancouver. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A Canadian fan sings the national anthem before a women’s soccer game in Vancouver. (DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

THE CONVERSATION

Oct. 5: This week’s Talking Point – a gender-neutral O Canada – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

A group of influential Canadian women, Margaret Atwood among them, is campaigning to restore the national anthem to its more gender-neutral roots. Readers, print and digital, wax lyrical

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I like the idea of changing “in all our sons command” to “in all of us command.” So many of us were immigrants, “our home and native land” would be better as “our home and chosen land.”

Mark Robertson, Charlottetown

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If we are going to change lyrics to make the anthem more inclusive, then how about changing “our home and native land” to “our home on native land!”?

Thomas Glover, Edmonton

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Well, I’ll be darned. My parents and I have been singing our own version of O Canada for years, and now find out that was the way it was originally written. We wanted males and females to be counted among those who feel true patriotic love for our country. Thus, “in all of us command.”

Also, given that warring groups all claim the support of their version of God (and then somebody’s God loses), we prefer to rely on all Canadians to keep us free. Instead of singing “God keep our land glorious and free,” in a secular but multicultural country, we invite others to join us, singing “Please keep our land glorious and free.” It is up to us, that same band of Canadians, men and women who feel patriotic love, to do our best to keep Canada glorious and free.

Lorna Blake, Vancouver

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I am surprised that wordsmith Margaret Atwood would argue for so bathetic a choice as “in all of us command” to complete the rather more flowery “true patriot love.” Would “in all our hearts command” not be a more felicitous pairing?

Anita Dermer, Toronto

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When I was a schoolgirl, I was under the impression that “all thy sons” was a poetic way of saying “everybody,” that it didn’t mean just the boys. Apparently, I was wrong: I’ve spent the past five decades feeling included when in fact I was not. Oh, that perfidious Robert Weir, deliberately deceiving young girls in such a fashion.

Sabina Michael, Whitby, Ont.

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Leave it alone. Can’t satisfy everybody. I love O Canada.

Mary Johnson, Saskatoon

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Instead, why not learn the original French Canadian lyrics written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier? No English translation has ever come close to translating the true Canadian sentiment expressed in those lyrics.

Gaetanne Mayer, Toronto

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We should be required to know how to sing O Canada in alternating French and English, with translations in many other tongues, including Chinese.

Napoleon Reynolds, Toronto

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Make it gender neutral, as the original was. Do it ASAP. The men complaining about changing it don’t sing it anyway.

Glen Franklin, Deloraine, Man.

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Give it a rest. There are far bigger things to attend to.

Karen Maxwell, Victoria

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Until Margaret Atwood started spouting off, did anyone stop and think, “Hmm … women aren’t in our anthem, but the boys get a mention. That’s a bad thing!”

How come I haven’t heard anyone complaining until now?

Lissa Albert, Montreal

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The answer is no, just like it was to changing the name of Victoria Day. Canada has lost enough heritage. We’re keeping what’s left.

Matt March, Toronto

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I think that we need a completely new anthem. It is unpleasant sounding.

Monique Henderson, Calgary

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Sadly, letter writer R. B. Fleming is mistaken in saying that “surely we couldn’t go wrong” with using the second verse to O Canada (Canada’s Song, Oct. 2). “Where pines and maples grow” is exclusionary. Maples don’t grow everywhere – what about the oaks, poplars, birches and sumac?

“Great prairies spread” is fine – if you live on the prairies. What about all those mountains in B.C. and the granite shield in other parts of Canada?

“Lordly rivers flow,” with the religious reference being a whole other topic, only refers to a handful of rivers. We have countless streams and creeks without a mention. It won’t do either.

Instead, we should look for inspiration from the great Puccini and his hauntingly beautiful “Humming Chorus” from Madame Butterfly. It’s memorable and very evocative. Humming removes the worry about messing up the words in the politically correct version currently in effect. Plus, it never has to change again. It’s bilingual, too!

Everyone can wholeheartedly join in without fear of offending. Well, possibly those who like to sing at the top of their voices may not like it, but you can never please those people anyway.

Ken Davis, Markham, Ont.

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At least, if the two sides can’t agree, I doubt they will shut down the government.

Robert M. Dunscomb, Charlottesville, Va.

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ON REFLECTION MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

All of us, or none of us

Re The Old Grandee’s Tabloid Campaign (editorial, Oct. 4): Jacques Parizeau rejects the PQ’s Charter of Values, but would support a ban on religious headgear for judges, police officers and prison guards.

This is a cynical expression of the fundamental Fabian tactic of the PQ. Talking about this subgroup is a distraction: How many of them wear a hijab, kippah or turban; where is the problem? First judges, police and prison guards. Then who?

Either we all have freedom of expression or no one does.

Kevin Riemer, Pointe-Claire, Que.

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Could they trust me?

Years ago, I wore a new piece of jewellery to my job as a hospital-based psychotherapist. My supervisor commented on my cross. A cross? I wore a funky, handmade piece of silver art!

He saw me less as madonna à la Desperately Seeking Susan and more as madonna, mother of Jesus. The realization hit: If he saw a religious symbol, what about my patients?

Would they reveal their abortions, their homosexuality, their infidelities? Could they trust me to respect their stories? Ever since, I have been a religious blank slate.

Jocelyn Barry, Edmonton

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About that analogy

Re Statesmanship Would Be The Real ‘No-Brainer’ (Oct. 4): I get Jeffrey Simpson’s point about the difference between statesmanship and salesmanship. But I am having trouble with his dairy analogy to give context to Stephen Harper’s actions on the Keystone file. If Barack Obama were to declare the elimination of Canada’s barriers to foreign dairy products a “no-brainer,” I would have to agree with him.

Robert Jackson, London, Ont.

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Where are the adults?

Re Obama Warns Shutdown Will Get Worse (Oct. 4): Barack Obama’s return to the campaign trail, something he is most comfortable with, only raises the ire of the other side. It’s time to put America’s and the world’s well-being first and flesh out a deal.

Obviously, with a $16-trillion U.S. debt and growing, Republicans may have a point in trying to get spending under control. Mr. Obama seems blinded by pushing his signature project, Obamacare, ahead – no matter the economic costs. It’s time for some adult conversations.

Larry Comeau, Ottawa

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Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters under 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

E-mail: letters@globeandmail.com

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