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The lyrics to O Canada will be a hot topic in Ottawa on Tuesday, even though the July 1 fireworks are still a month away.
The House of Commons is debating an effort by dying Liberal Mauril Belanger to render the national anthem gender-neutral, by replacing the line in the English version “in all thy sons command” with “in all of us command.”
Belanger, a long-time Ottawa MP, has seen his health deteriorate since he learned last fall he has an incurable and fatal neurogenerative disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
He introduced his private member’s bill in January using a voice generator that converts text into computerized speech, the first time one had been used in the Commons.
The Conservatives thwarted an attempt to pass the bill quickly in early May, which had Liberals accusing their rivals of taking away the chance for Belanger to see his bill pass while he is still able to enjoy it.
Conservative MP Erin O’Toole said he sympathizes with Belanger’s situation, but is speaking against the bill because he does not believe Canada should change important parts of its heritage, even when they have fallen behind the times.
“He’s a friend and someone I admire greatly and seeing him struggle with ALS is tragic and a lot of us want him to be able to fulfill his duties as an...
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