Commanding "True Patriot Love" | August 20, 2001 | Orest Slepokura

Commanding "True Patriot Love"

There is sexist language in our national anthem O Canada that some feel must be rectified. Frances Wright, President and CEO of the Famous 5 Foundation, has proposed the government alter the line, "in all our sons command" to "in all of us command" or "in all of our command." Naturally, the idea is to make the words more inclusive by removing the language displaying bias in favour of males; then we could all feel called to radiate "true patriot love" equally.

I suppose it's only a matter of time before the change is made official. English Canada has a tendency to embrace imposed top-down change more readily and -- how to put this ever so delicately? -- obligingly than French Canada. Hence no word yet on whether or not big changes will be made to the French version of our anthem, which if the truth be told contains some pretty loaded phrases. Consider these lines, which are sung back to back:

Car ton bras sait porter l'epee,
Il sait porter la croix!
Rough translation:
For your arm knows how to carry the sword,
[and] it knows how to carry the cross!

The jingoistic allusion to "the sword" is further reinforced by a most emphatic allusion to "the cross!" Note the exclamation mark which punctuates the verse. This would refer to the Cross on Calvary, where the Lord Jesus was crucified to ransom a world mired in sin, the emblem of our own Christian religion. And, when the phrase "de foi trempee" is added a bit later, found in the 7th of the 9 verses and meaning "steeped in faith," it is, no mistaking it, the Christian or at least the Catholic faith that is being unblushingly referenced here.

All of which leaves one feeling amazed that no human rights cavalry has yet come charging over Mount Royal and around the 26-ton iron cross atop it to scuttle this cultural atrocity. Maybe once the dog days of August are over, a delegation of mindful citizens reinvigorated by the crisp autumn air will move quickly and boldly to rectify the exclusionary language in the text. Un peu de patience, s'il vous plait.

Meanwhile, here is something for Canadians, but especially for our Muslim brethren, to ponder. This from one who used to be one of the country's top spies, Dave Harris, former chief of strategic planning at CSIS, Canada's spy agency:
"The message should be sent out that these people [read: Muslim militants of the Osama bin Laden ilk] engaging in terrorism and terrorist support activity are being disloyal to this country... This is an issue of disloyalty. They can't be loyal to causes beyond our borders and still be loyal to Canada and the Canadian ideal." [1]

Did Harris really say that militant Muslims "can't be loyal to causes beyond our borders and still be loyal to Canada and the Canadian ideal?"

By Jove, as Jacques Parizeau would say, so he did!

In the pluralistic emporium that is our demographic Tower of Babel, which swears by official multiculturalism, such an utterance is tantamount to civic blasphemy, requiring the remediation of sensitivity training. (A doleful voice heard over the telephone is asking: "Human rights commission?") But for the moment, let's suppose the old CSIS agent got it right, that dual loyalty is seen by definition as being contradictory and really does amount to disloyalty (in plain English, treason) to our fair dominion.

How to explain, then, those federal cabinet ministers like Paul Martin who attend fund-raisers in Toronto hosted by front organizations for hardcore foreign terrorists like Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, where they will gladhand organizers and guests and beg their support to back Liberal Party candidates? For the record, 26 Tamil separatists were convicted in a suicide bombing that assassinated the Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, a decade ago.

Of course, the axis upon which Canadian politics has turned for the last 35 years is Quebec separatism. Powerful nationalist parties like the PQ and BQ include a large number of militants, among them even former FLQ terrorists and the groupies who unabashedly admire them. Against this hoary backdrop, for CSIS has-been David Harris to presume to lecture Canadian Muslims about "disloyalty" seems downright ludicrous. Disloyalty to Canada in one form or other is endemic, surely, to our protean identity as Canadian citizens.

Canada is not without her own history of disloyalty to citizens of Ukrainian heritage. It happened massively during the World War One internment of thousands of our people when, on a trumped-up pretext, they were sent into internal exile to perform forced labour in concentration camps at remote and isolated sites in the hinterland. And, it is happening again, only piecemeal this time, to Wasyl Odynsky, Vladimir Katriuk and others among our kinsmen consigned to the legal purgatory of the federal government's program to first denaturalize and then deport alleged Nazi collaborators; predicated on the threadbare concept of a "balance of probabilities," of justice by coin-toss, which holds that inference and supposition are adequate stand-ins for tangible evidence, and where the verdict cannot be appealed to a higher court.

Writer Karl Shapiro has said he feels Germans make the best Americans. To my mind, Ukrainians make the best Canadians. If there is a community in whom "true patriot love" has no need of any "command," it is probably the Ukrainian. Canada could sure use our help right about now. Our innate Ukrainian sense of tradition would help preserve much of what has made this the Great Good Place it was, and still is, for many newcomers. But post-modern Canada, where law and culture are created on the fly to satisfy interest groups, has again said via the persecution of Odynsky, Katriuk and others, that it prefers to make do without our help. Shkoda.

This just in:

"One out of four Western Canadians would vote for separation if the federal government doesn't undergo a major facelift in the next decade, according to a poll on Western alienation." [2]


1. "RCMP probing 'Jihad' web sites," Stewart Bell, The National Post, August 18, 2001.

2. "25% of Western Canadians would separate: poll," Peter O'Neil, The Vancouver Sun, July 31, 2001.