Canada’s national anthem looked like it was up for a rewrite. The Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in Wednesday’s Throne Speech that it would ask Parliament to “examine the original gender-neutral English wording of the national anthem.” That’s opposed to the current, non gender neutral version. The problem with the current version is with verse two–for those unfamiliar with the English words, see verse two in the you tube clip below. For years some feminists, this one included, have taken to singing “in all of us command” instead of “in all thy sons’ command.” Queen’s University philosophy professor Adele Mercier weighed in the dispute in the Globe and Mail saying it’s about time the lyrics were changed. “The national anthem should reflect its population and Canada consists of 51 per cent women,” Mercier said. “Women soldiers fight in Afghanistan alongside the men and die alongside the men, and they hear that Canada is under the guy’s command.” See the Globe story here. There are now two further wrinkles. The first is a very Canadian problem: What to do about the French lyrics which are very different than the English? They have a different problem, not sexism but an endorsement of Christianity. The original French words to Ô Canada were the first verse of a poem penned by the conservative, staunch Catholic, French-Canadian nationalist judge, Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. For a discussion of the French version, see the story in the Globe and Mail here. The issues around the French version have to do with whether the Catholic imagery is appropriate for modern multicultural Quebec. Second, the Harper government has now back pedalled and says it won’t raise the issue of rewriting the national anthem to do away with its sexist language after all. By Friday the government said that strong reaction had poured in from across the country about the government’s proposal to modify the lyrics to “O Canada.” The Harper government now says it will not go forward with a review of the song’s lyrics after all. Cowards. But perhaps not surprising from a government that just removed all mention of of LGBT rights from our Citizenship and Immigration Guide.