In all of us command: English anthem change receives royal assent

The changes to the English lyrics of O Canada have been made official after getting royal assent.

The phrase “true patriot love in all thy sons command” has now become “true patriot love in all of us command.”

This latest attempt to change the lyrics–and there have been several failed attempts since 1980, when O Canada was officially adopted as the national anthem–was put forward in a private member’s bill by the late Liberal MP for Ottawa-Vanier, Mauril Bélanger. He lived long enough to see the bill pass in the House of Commons in June of 2016, but died of ALS that August.

The bill then spent over a year in the Senate, before passing last week. Conservative Senators boycotted the final vote, in protest of what some of them called “anti-democratic behaviour,” after a motion was introduced during debate, to move the bill immediately to a vote.

Shameful, anti-democratic behaviour by #Trudeau-appointed senators, including #SenCA Speaker, as they shut down legitimate debate in Chamber

— Sen. Denise Batters (@denisebatters) January 31, 2018

Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly says the government will not spend extra money to promote the change to O Canada.

MPs sang the updated version in the House Wednesday afternoon, after the bill was given royal assent, and then broke into applause.

This comes just ahead of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Canadian Olympic Committee had said athletes would be singing the new lyrics on the podium.

The English lyrics to O Canada were written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908. The phrase “in all thy sons command” was added to the lyrics Weir in 1914, replacing the original phrase “True patriot love thou dost in us command." There was an attempt in 2017 by Conservative Senator Don Plett to amend Bélanger's bill and return the lyrics to “thou dost in us command” instead of changing them to “in all of us command” but the amendment was not accepted.

The French lyrics remain unchanged.

With files from The Canadian Press.