Mr. Speaker, as a Canadian and as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-210, an act to amend the National Anthem Act.
I listened to the debate and I am very pleased to add my thoughts to those of my honourable colleagues.
However, before I do that, I want to thank and honour the work of the member of Parliament for Ottawa—Vanier for his 20-plus years in the chamber, for his work on behalf of Franco-Canadians, and for his work on behalf of Parliament and all Canadians. I know that he can hear us, and I know that he knows we are with him, and so are Canadians. He is the best combination of a brother and an uncle I have ever met in my life for someone who is not a family member.
I know that this debate has raged, and I know that it is an important debate, but I want to get to the substantive issues. We are talking about making our national anthem gender neutral. The issue is whether the English lyrics “in all thy sons command” should be amended to “in all of us command” to reflect the original gender neutral 1908 version.
I, and many others in the House and across the country, believe that this change is fundamental. We reject the assertion that changing this is simple pandering to a political base. This is in fact taking it to its original base and making it appropriate for all Canadians. How else am I going to explain to my 12-year-old niece, Skylar, that we in the House on Wednesdays, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast, continue to sing a version of the Canadian anthem that is discriminatory to her gender and to 51% of Canadians?
The debate is about bringing our national anthem into the 21st century. It is 2016. This is about gender neutrality. This is about the future. What else could be more Canadian?