Monday, March 08, 2010

Eh? Canada

With millions unemployed and a soaring debt, last week’s Speech from the Throne zeroed in on one of Canada’s biggest problems by including a pledge to amend our national anthem to make it gender neutral. Although Prime Minister Harper later changed his mind, maybe it’s still time to give "O Canada" a major overhaul and make the whole song a truer reflection of who we are. Here’s the current unsatisfactory version:

O Canada!
Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

First, what’s with the "O"? Who says "O" any more? Let’s make it truly Canadian and change it to "Eh?"

"Our home"? Get serious. We don’t really own much of anything in our country. It’s more like we’re leasing it from the Americans, the Saudis and the Chinese. "Our rented home" would be a truer representation.

And "native land" is a bit misleading. Are we trying to say it’s our land or the natives’ land? Either way, the wording’s inaccurate. How about "once natives’ land"?

The next line seems to be the one causing Prime Minister Harper and his gang the most trouble. Self-styled longtime fighters against sexism, the Conservatives apparently want to change the word "sons" to something more inclusive.

But the entire line needs reworking. How many of us practice "true patriot love"? Isn’t it really more like a "convenient temporary allegiance"? And if "sons" is a problem, let’s just replace it with "folks."

If anything needs a change it’s "glowing hearts." What the heck is a glowing heart, anyway? I’m not sure but I do know a "heavy heart" when I see one. And if you haven’t noticed, Canada’s not "rising" except for our unemployment rate. "Sliding" would be more like it if you ask me.

I’m a little uncomfortable with "The True North" as well. "An American branch plant" seems more appropriate. After all, they’re the ones who keep us "strong and free."

The next line’s fine but as for standing on guard, I think that’s a bit strong. I’d prefer a more accurate sentiment like "we think mostly of me."

If "sons" is a problem, then "God" has to be changed, too. I’d turf the deity and go with a more innocuous, non-religious Canadian sentiment such as "Let’s keep our land clean and litter free."

Put it all together and you’ve got a new version of our national anthem, a non-sexist, non-deist, non-contentious version that we can all sing, if not with pride, at least with honesty:

Eh? Canada!
Our rented home, once natives’ land.
Convenient temporary allegiance in all our folks command.
With heavy hearts we see thee slide,
An American branch plant economy.
From far and wide,
Eh? Canada, we think mostly of me.
Let’s keep our land clean and litter free!
Eh? Canada, we think mostly of me.
Eh? Canada, we think mostly of me.

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