I am all for being considerate of others and their opinions, on a one-to-one basis and on a global scale. But, there are days that my crusty self raises its ugly head and roars. I had one of those days this week when it was announced that MP Mauril Bélanger was going to try to once again change the lyrics to our national anthem. Because of his recent diagnosis of ALS, I hesitated for a moment to allow the crustacean in me to surface. But, while my heart goes out to him and his family for that awful turn of life, I am not attacking him, but expressing my frustration with the apparent priorities of our government. It is, after all, our tax dollars that pay the salaries for these folks to debate key topics, not to mention to cover the costs that would be incurred should we need to change the lyrics. Personally, the anthem isn't even on my list of concerns for our country. It would be laughable if it wasn't so frustratingly stupid—a waste of time and money when there is not enough of either to go around.
The controversy rests in the line "in all thy sons command". Apparently, it is harming the women of our country and needs to be changed to a gender-neutral reference. I won't even talk about how insulting I find it to insinuate that my female psyche is so fragile that it is damaged by this line, nor about how a country that prides itself on being a mosaic is less concerned about the definitive religious slant in the song, nor about how, as a bilingual country, the lyrics in French (the original anthem for those who don't realize that) do not match the English "translation". These are sandpaper ponderings chaffing my indignation at the lack of common sense and the absence of practical solution-seeking to real issues.
I want to know that my government is hearing the voices of La Loche, a community rocked by more than the recent shootings. Can we spend parliamentary time talking about disengaged youth, about connection and support, about youth centres? Can we honestly, with more than just the intent to make a difference, pursue the events that have resulted in the oppression and suffering of communities of Indigenous Peoples? Help find solutions. Help implement them. They will guide you, my government, if you listen carefully.
I want to know that my government is genuinely concerned about the environment, that they are looking at industrial impact on our natural world. Can we try to focus on ruptured pipelines, fresh water and marine protection, pursuit of clean, sustainable, green energy? It is a challenge. We want everything, but it comes at a cost. My government, how can we ensure that today's price is not paid by future generations?
And, what about our economy? A sagging loonie, the death of job sectors, growing levels of poverty? Can we talk about those issues? Can we spend valuable time and money on finding ways to strengthen our country's financial base, to ensure security for each Canadian family…old and new? I look to you, my government, to help us sort this out.
I have but skimmed the surface of issues far greater than the words in our anthem, words that many Canadians probably cannot quote anyway. Please, my government, let's get our priorities straight. I do not need to see my gender named specifically in the anthem. I need to see my needs, the needs of my fellow Canadians, and the needs of our country addressed in meaningful ways.
With no change in lyrics, I will continue to stand on guard for thee, I really will. Please show me that you are standing on guard for me. For us. All of us.