A Canadian flag flies under the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill, where the government announced Wednesday that it wants the wording of the national anthem reviewed.

A Canadian flag flies under the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill, where the government announced Wednesday that it wants the wording of the national anthem reviewed.

Get ready to memorize new words to the national anthem.

Parliament is to be asked to review the "original gender-neutral wording of the national anthem," says the throne speech delivered by Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean on Wednesday.

O Canada includes the lyrics "true patriot love in all thy sons command," and there may be interest in changing that line to something more inclusive.

O Canada, with music composed by Calixa Lavallée in 1880, became the national anthem in 1980, replacing God Save the Queen.

Its English lyrics have been adapted several times over the years, but the current version is based on a poem written in 1908 by Stanley Weir.

It begins: "O Canada Our home and native land! True patriot love thou dost in us command. We see thee rising fair, dear land, The True North strong and free."

The official English version now in use incorporates changes recommended in 1968 by a joint committee of MPs and senators that added the lines "from far and wide" and "God keep our land glorious and free!"

The surprise proposal to review the lyrics had parliamentary observers buzzing. The throne speech gave no indication what prompted the plan.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said the initiative to change the lyrics is the kind of "symbolic gesture" the Conservative government makes when it doesn't want to do anything real.

"Anything that makes a national anthem more gender-sensitive is a good thing," he told CBC News.

"But, I mean, no disrespect to those who feel strongly on this issue, but, for heaven's sake, we have some very important challenges and every time the government is asked to do something real, it does something symbolic.

"There's lots of things to do for women that are more important than changing the words of the national anthem, just as there are lots of things to do for pensioners and seniors that are more important than having a Seniors Day."

External Links

Canadian Heritage: O Canada