Canada MPs back gender-neutral changes to national anthem

Liberal MP Mauril Belanger receives standing ovation after voting on his private member's bill to change the national anthem. 15 June 2016.Image copyright

Image caption

Liberal MP Mauril Belanger, who is in a wheelchair, received a standing ovation in the House of Commons following the vote

Canadian MPs have voted to change the lyrics of the English language version of the country’s national anthem to make it more gender neutral.

The move would change the words “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command” in the anthem, O Canada.

It was tabled by MP Mauril Belanger, of the governing Liberal Party, who is suffering from an incurable disease.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has focused on gender inclusivity since his election last October.

After the vote, MPs stood and applauded Mr Belanger, who sat in the House in his wheelchair.

The change now goes to the Senate, which is expected to pass it.

However, it is unclear if that will happen before the Senate rises for summer and the bill’s supporters fear Mr Belanger may not live to see the change become law.

He was diagnosed last November with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The fight to change the words of O Canada has stirred a passionate national debate.

A similar plan was rejected in 2010 by the Conservatives, who held the majority in parliament.

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