Our secretly Irish anthem


The Conservatives made a minor fuss today about the New Brunswick school principal who decided—a year ago, mind you—to stop playing the national anthem before class each day. 

“It is a song that belongs to each and every Canadian,” proclaimed Mike Allen in the House.

“I was very saddened to hear that the principal of a New Brunswick school has banned the singing of O Canada,” moped Tilly O’Neill-Gordon.

“As a Canadian and a proud Canadian I believe that we should celebrate our country,” Keith Ashfield explained to reporters.

All of which is very edifying. Although, it would perhaps be easier to take their noble defense of our national song seriously if the party hadn’t just dispatched a press release that inserts a previously undisclosed apostrophe into the anthem’s title.


OTTAWA – Today Conservative Party Member of Parliament Mike Allen (Tobique – Mactaquac) made the following statement in the House of Commons:

“Mr. Speaker, Canadians were outraged to learn that the Principal of a New Brunswick school banned the playing and singing of O’Canada.  Apparently he wanted to be “inclusive”.

Mr. Speaker, this is political correctness run wild.  There is nothing more inclusive than O’Canada.  It is a song that belongs to each and every Canadian.  The singing of O’Canada is an expression of our collective pride in being citizens of one of the most prosperous and peaceful nations the world has ever known.

Mr. Speaker, I hope we all can join together and urge the Principal to reverse his decision and bring back O’Canada.”


Our secretly Irish anthem

  1. Making fun of not-particularly-revealing typos?

    You’re the man, Wherry. Never forget that.

    • And yet another humourless Conservative steps forward….don’t you guys ever smile?

      • What, you’ve never heard of the No Smiles Act, 2007, administered by Minister of Angry Faces, the Hon. John Baird, P.C., M.P.

        No worries, Laurie Hawn and Jeff Watson haven’t, either.

    • It’s not a typo – a typo is a typing error. The apostrophe is there five times. It’s an actual error.

      • Yeah, I’ve got to agree with David here. A “typo” is accidentally hitting a key inadvertently when typing a wprd (see? THAT was a “typo”). Inserting a non existent apostrophe into O Canada (as if it were similar to “o’clock”) is a “typo” if it happens once. Maybe.

        Writing it that way consistently five times in a seven sentence press release suggests you don’t actually know what our national anthem is called.

        • I tried O’Canada in 3 different programs, and it was flagged by the spell check in all 3.

          2 suggested O Canada as the correction. Somebody must have done this purposefully.

          • I think people just can’t believe that “O” is a word and feel this itch to play with it. “O’Canada” is a new one, though.

        • LKO
          I believe it’s called being unintentially ironic! Or is it intentionally moronic?

  2. Nice catch.

  3. Funny. I don’t remember singing the national anthem in grade school. But that was 50 or so years ago and my memory is not what it was.

    But then I went to catholic school and we probably prayed to that other god.

    But I can’t remember that either.

    What’s this thing in my hand ?

    • When I was in grade school some 50 years ago, we sang God Save the Queen, and pledged allegiance to the Union Jack.

      Happy days…

    • Allow me to contribute to anecdotal evidence (which as we all know is not data, but is enormously entertaining)! When I want to public elementary school about… 3 decades ago?… we did listen to O Canada played over the PA in the morning, but being Canadians, we sure as hell didn’t sing it, except perhaps by mumbling under our breath. We did sing God Save the Queen on special occasions, and that one was quite more vocal, don’t ask me why. I somehow doubt the people angry over what is frankly a local community issue – at BEST – are also outraged over the decline of mandatory listening/singing in favour of our erstwhile head of state. Which is a bit telling.

      In any case, I’m pretty sure all such daily anthems ceased by the time I hit grade 4, to be relegated only to special occasions after that.

      • You may be interested to know that at our local HS here in the NWT we do play the NA, but usually in Slavey, which is rather beautiful but not at all helpful to most of us in singing along.

        • That’s cool, “O Canada” in Slavey. They should do that more often at official functions: good chance to show off our “unofficial” languages.

          • Bring on the Throat Singers:

            Uu Kanata!
            Nangmini nunavut!
            Piqujatii nalattiaqpavut.
            Nangiqpugu, Uu Kanata
            Uu Kanata! nunatsia!
            Nangiqpugu mianiripluti,
            Uu Kanata, salagijauquna!

          • Inuktitut looks so cool in Roman letters, it’s almost a shame they use their own alphabet.

          • Interesting fact (to me, anyway) is that “their own alphabet” is actually based on the type of written shorthand used by the first linguists to document their langauge.

    • Really? No O Canda 50 years ago eh?

      I don’t know about singing along, but I know that when I was in grade school we stood and had O Canada played over the P.A. every single morning. And that wasn’t 50 years ago, that was 1980-1989.

      We also said the Lord’s Prayer every morning (though I believe that got phased out at my school around 1988, when I was in grade 7).

      • Oh, and see that “Canda” above?

        THAT’s a typo. (lol)

  4. Oh, I think the really telling thing is that they’re making this a story on par with their plan to borrow at least $85 billion over the next few years. I understand that they might want to change the channel, but why not one of the stand-bys like abortion, women’s rights, environmental regulation, corporate welfare, filthy liberals receiving culture grants, etc.?

    • From yesterday’s Globe: “Mr. Flanagan said Mr. Harper must find low-cost ways over the next few months to animate the troops.”

      • They could try supporting the leafs!

      • That sounds suspiciously like the advocacy of necromancy!

        Animating the troops, indeed.

        • Ha!

          See, and here I was worried that the plan was to replace our armed forces with anime characters!

    • Why are you bothering to distinguish corporate welfare and filthy liberals receiving culture grants? Isn’t one a subset of the other?

    • This is a minor story with very little press coverage.

      Your claim that the Tories are “making this a story on par with their plan to borrow at least $85 billion over the next few years” seems rather ridiculous.

  5. I assume everyone who is ‘outraged’ at this whole anthem thing sings the anthem every morning at work, or has at least petitioned their manager for a mandatory sing-a-long.

  6. Only a politician and ,in particularly these politicians, could take a silly case of the PC’s, and turn it into a farce starring themselves as the utterly incompetent national anthem police. Couldn’t they hav take a few pointers from those language police in Quebec? But then again, maybe they did!

  7. I doubt half these Tory firebrands could write out the words to O Canada; and I bet none of them know the full French version.

    Not that I blame them. We desperately need a new national anthem. And when we get it, hopefully we won’t pound it to pulp in people’s minds by making them mindlessly sing it every single schoolday morning.

    • Why do we ‘deperately need a new national anthem?’

      • Because the current one (in English) is tiresome and repetitive and mostly meaningless…if we need an anthem at all, surely we can do better than that.

        • I quote the Sea Captain from the Simpsons:

          “Not a hymn to war like our national anthem, but a sweet soothing hymn like the national anthem of Canada”.

        • We could do worse. The Aussies went from ” waltzing Matilda” to the appalling, “Advance Australia Fair” [ shudder]

          • As i mentioned further up, i like the effect of taking turns sing O Canada in all our unofficial languages. At my local HS it’s either Cree or Slavey, the effect is often beautiful. AND! It gives us a built in excuse to forever mumble along. Gotta love this country!!

          • I can’t believe they ditched “Waltzing Matilda.” That was such an awesome choice.

            SAB, our hymn may be soothing, but it’s just crammed to the gills with absurdities.

            O Canada, our home and native land

            Pleonastic. Your native land is your home.

            True patriot love in all thy sons command

            Apart from the gender thing, and the use of “thy” which no schoolchild understands, there’s the bizarre inverted structure of “object . . . verb.” How many people even grasp that this line means “Command true patriot love in all thy sons”? For a bonus, “to command [something],” in the sens of “command something to arise,” is nearly 100% opaque.

            With glowing hearts, we see thee rise
            The true North, strong and free

            This is better than the rest, and fits the “rising nation” attitude that animated the country in the first half of the 20th century. But I don’t know how appropriate that is nowadays. Most people take it for granted that Canada exists, even if it may be constantly improving; “we see thee rise” really means “we are happy to be emerging as a new nation within the Empire.”

            From far and wide, O Canada
            We stand on guard for thee

            It’s a bit cheap to rhyme “free” with “thee,” and it makes it very difficult to change all the “thou’s” to “you’s.” Standing on guard is not a bad image, though.

            God keep our land glorious and free

            The repetition of “free” is very awkward; “land” also repeats from the first line. “May God keep our land glorious” is a nice thought but not particularly poetical. Why is the land glorious? Citation needed.

            All in all, the main problem is that it consists almost entirely of abstractions. Practically the only thing that applies to Canada is the idea that we’re the “true North”; otherwise you could sing it about Burkina Faso and it would work. In short, it’s very, very, very banal.

          • JM
            Banal it may be Jack. But we are after all the country that works better in practiise than theory.
            Since we’re said to be so weather obsessed mavbe the weather ditty from Alice will do?

            ” …i never ever ever do a thing about the weather because the weather never ever does a thing about me”

          • If we’re the True North, who’s the False North? Sweden? Norway?

          • Alaska

        • All national anthems are pretty awful. With few exceptions. I like Kenya’s, Japan’s, Israel’s, Russia’s and Italy’s. Brazil’s sounds a bit like the “Funeral March for a Marionette.”

          O Canada is fine if the arrangement is elaborate. Otherwise, it’s pretty uninteresting.

          • I like a number of the Friday night anthems at the Old Triangle pub.

          • Allons, enfants de la patrie . . . ?

          • Is that the old Soviet one? My fav. I think it’s the Czech one that’s excruciating, but i may be mistaken.

          • Yeah, totally, the old Soviet one was great. I think the Russians still use the tune — maybe restored it with new lyrics at some point?

            I don’t remember the Czech one. There’s a great moment in Yes, Prime Minister when the Foreign Office tries to disinvite the Argentines to a diplomatic function by spreading false propaganda that their national anthem is 10 minutes long and has 5 movements.

            Super bonus marks for anybody who can recognise the following:

            Surgite, opressi orbis terrarum!
            Surgite, adesurientes!
            Sonat ratio cantu tubarum
            Aevi huius cineres.

            Tabula fiat nobis rasa —
            Io Spartaci omnes surgite!
            Et saecla iniquitates passa
            Tandem praecipite!

            proelio in compurgando
            disponamur sic ut cras
            gentem quae vivit laborando
            victricem videas!

          • That’s the Internationale.

          • DUDE, YOU WIN!!! Hat’s off!!

          • How about this one:

            Et une seule nuit a rassemblée en elle
            L’histoire de tout un peuple.
            Et une seule nuit a déclenché sa marche triomphale
            Vers l’horizon du bonheur.
            Une seule nuit a réconcilié notre peuple
            Avec tous les peuples du monde,
            A la conquête de la liberté et du progrès
            La patrie ou la mort, nous vaincrons.

          • Ah, the long link. Anything to get noticed!

          • All this budget talk has given you red ink on the brain…

          • JM
            Old Soviet was great. I think the new lyrics only have one line. Putin forever..da da da da da, Putin forever..
            I highly recommend the Czech one[ if i’m right ] it’ll have you running out in the street and demanding one world govt immediately.

    • ‘Fess up, Jack… you’ve already written a new version of our national anthem, haven’t you….

      • Heh heh . . . you got me . . . but it’s not good. It was during the “Hockey Night in Canada” theme song episode last year, and everybody was saying, “Let’s make this the national anthem!” But it would need lyrics; so I tried doing up some lyrics. I kind of liked them at the time but now I’m thinking a National Anthem has to be a little less peppy than the HNIC theme. Anyway, to that tune, with all those caveats:

        Free from sea to sea
        You’re the land for me
        Love you tenderly
        Hand in hand we believe

        The fields are full of snow
        The winter breeze is blowing
        It’s time for singing, O Canada
        Go, Canada, go!

        The odds are far too grim
        That’s what they said at Vimy
        But did they overthrow Canada?
        No, Canada, no!

        • A solid effort. Sadly, the reference to Vimy would confuse a lot of Canadians.

  8. “There is nothing more inclusive than [Oh] Canada.”

    There’s your empty rhetoric of the day. Wouldn’t a National Anthem Songbook which included Oh Canada be, by definition, more inclusive than the song itself? And what about a library holding said book?

    • Don’t question the meaningless babble!

    • Not to be overly pedantic, but “Oh Canada” is no more correct than “O’Canada”.

      Our national anthem is called “O Canada“.

  9. I think the principal has every right to protect our children from the propaganda that goes with singing patriotic songs that simply stand for war.
    Here here .. too bad 98% of Canadians are so brainwashed they do not see it..

    • Another little known fact: it is claimed that the Roman Salute was used by Americans during the playing of their national anthem until it was adopted by the Nazis. Roosevelt then had Americans change to the hand over heart we are more familiar with today.

      If our anthem is going to be Irish-ized (anyone see the pun there?), may I suggest that difficult to describe, but universally recognized beckoning motion to the barkeep for another Guiness?

  10. gawd what a bunch of maroons.

    get rid of the thing already

  11. I thought Tories preferred “The Maple Leaf Forever”…

    Then again the line “Wolfe the dauntless hero…” probably wouldn’t go over well in certain unnamed parts of the country.

    • Since i’m a westerner i would have preffered Neils version of ” Alberta bound”. Maybe we could just sub in our respective regional biases?

      • On that score, what about “Four Strong Winds”? It kind of fits everywhere these days. Plus, it would be kind of neat to have a national anthem that didn’t even mention the country and that was tragic and entirely grown up.

        • Y the man Jack! Me not! That’s the one i was thinking of.

          • Only if it segues into a long and loud single string guitar solo.

        • I have a fondness for Mon Pays, especially the last bit:

          Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’envers
          D’un pays qui n’était ni pays ni patrie

          Quebec as the other side of Canada, Canada as the other side of the USA….