Friday, March 05, 2010

What Canada’s Prime Minister Has In Common with Rosanne Barr

Many years ago, comedian Rosanne Barr offended many with her rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. She sang the American national anthem to kick-off a San Diego Padres baseball game in 1990, in her typically loud and obnoxious character. Her performance was intentionally meant to be a humorous take on the song, but it turned out to be more a serious lapse in judgment.

There are some things in life you should never play around with – and a country’s national anthem is one of those things.

So why is the Canadian government looking into changing that country’s national anthem?

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged in his speech from the thrown – the traditional way a new session of the Canadian Parliament begins – that he would “examine the original gender-neutral English wording of the national anthem.”

Of all the words which express the patriotism and sense of national pride for a country, are the words within that country’s national anthem.

The Canadian anthem – Oh Canada – is based on a 1908 poem, so it is dated.
But so too are most national anthems – countries aren’t created in a single event. The root histories of a nation’s early beginnings are the basis for most national anthems around the world.

Canada’s Prime Minister is desecrating one of our national symbols – our national anthem – by even suggesting it needs to be made more politically correct – which is the underlying cause of his concern.

The third line of Oh Canada is: True patriot love in all thy sons command. Prime Minister Harper claims his office has received many complaints from women’s groups about the sexist nature of this line.

Most though – including some women rights advocacy groups – believe the national anthem is fine as is. They assert that the Conservative federal government led by Prime Minister Harper should be focusing on the issues which have a greater impact on both sexes in the county.

"REAL Women requests the Liberal government in Ottawa to address the real problems Canadians face, especially economic ones, instead of dancing to the tune of a handful of chronically dissatisfied feminists," the right-wing women's organization said in a 2003 news release. The debate whether or not to modernize Oh Canada has been one of those on again, off again debates since 1990.

However, given the prime minister’s recent actions, he may be re-starting the debate about the country’s national anthem for less noble reasons. Last year, Prime Minister Harper stalled Parliament until it re-started just this week, claiming this delay would give the government the time it needed to determine the direction to take the country.

The Conservative government has been – well conservative – in their approach to governing, not really tackling any of the major issues facing the country. They do enact policies and programs to assist with the economy, the jobless, education, healthcare, national security and other issues, but they really haven’t taken any dramatic steps to resolve anything directly. Most of the Harper regime’s rule has been nothing more than band-aid type solutions, which cover the cut, but fail to repair the wound.

It has been suggested that the Prime Minister mentioned revising the national anthem as a diversionary tactic, to take public attention off of the real issues which the government is failing to address.

Whatever Prime Minister Harper’s intent, amending our national anthem for political correctness is no different than asking Rosanne Barr to sing it at a baseball game – a poor lapse in judgment, and the desecration of an internationally recognized national symbol of Canada.

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