This is what you get when government tries to do something without spending money -

This is what you get when government tries to do something without spending money


Fiddling with the national anthem is such a terrible idea that it’s not even worth mocking. So we’re going to go and change “in all thy sons command” to “thou dost in us command,” are we? What are we – knights of olde? It’s never going to happen.

There are, however, at least two questions of interest that arise. There’s a simple answer to the first. The second one is a stumper.

The first question: where did this eighth-baked idea come from?

When governments are up against it financially, but eager to put shiny new “achievements” on display in the window, the call goes out to staffers: We need ideas that don’t cost any money – something that looks real and feels real, but doesn’t set us back. In Paul Martin’s government, for instance, the idea was hatched in 2004 to make tax-free the pay of any member of the Canadian Forces on active duty in most overseas deployments. It was well-received and cost very little. (The out-of-the-blue idea to prevent the notwithstanding clause from ever being invoked by Ottawa also cost nothing, assuming you don’t tally losses to credibility.)

In yesterday’s Speech from the Throne, we got a special day to celebrate seniors – I do not want to see the lineup at Swiss Chalet on that night – and we got an award for volunteerism and we got the idea of making our anthem sound like a Merchant Ivory production. Three ideas, three “achievements” about which the government can crow. Price tag: $0. Simple enough.

It’s the second question that confounds me: how did an idea like altering the anthem get past Stephen Harper? Isn’t he the very last political leader you’d expect to get up to this sort of thing? Isn’t he the one who usually stands – or used to, at least – against this sort of try-(and-fail)-to-please-everyone nonsense? (Wait until Quebec hears the words of the anthem are up for edit: they might have some notes.) Harper just finished belting out O Canada after gold medal performances in speed skating, in curling, in hockey and more. And suddenly he’s keen to tinker with the words so we all sound like jousters at a Renaissance Fair? Riiiiiiight.

Did he lose a bet? Did King Lear leap from the pages of Shakespeare and take on the Prime Minister’s corporeal form? Answers, please.


This is what you get when government tries to do something without spending money

  1. The anthem move is brilliant. Here's how it goes down:

    Step 1: Harper proposes making Anthem gener neutral in throne speech, after explaining to Tory staffers what gender neutral is.

    Step 2: The flood gates open with suggested changes to the Anthem. Olivia Chow proposes stanza for disabled two spirited rural janitors.

    Step 3: Harper says "Whoah, how dare you crazy lefties propose radical changes to our beloved anthem? We're keeping it as is."

    Step 4: Harper is seen as savior of anthem, with everyone forgetting it was he who started the whole business

    • Sweet mercy – this seems entirely plausible. Are you a witch?

      • Good use of "sweet mercy."

      • John D got 3 out of 4.

        Step 1 Proposal … FULL CHECK

        Step 2 Flood gates of enthusiastic changes suggested …. not quite, turned out to be Flood gates of HUGE laughs, so NO CHECK … oh, okay, HALF CHECK for the flood gates

        Step 3 Harper says "WHOAH" … he said "okay, that didn't go quite how I wanted it to" HALF CHECK

        Step 4 Harper saves anthem … I fully expect he'll claim that in future FULL CHECK

        Conclusion …. John D is definately a witch

    • Shouldn't everyone realize that what was proposed re the Anthem was that it be put back to what it was when written? Personally, I like it as it is!

  2. Some people think that it isn't a dynamic, activist, in-your-face government that makes a country great, but rather the every day efforts of a countries people going about their own business and trying to acheive the goals that they have set for themselves that make a country grow and prosper.

    Those people happen to be in government right now. They aren't your kind of people – we get that. But they represent a lot of people.

    • When the government you are describing gets elected please let me know – it sure as hell isn't the one we have now.

    • Some people think that when a government says it needs an extra month off in order to recalibrate, that when they'd come back they will have.. well.. recalibrated.


    • That's right. After Harper screwed with the balanced/surplus budget thingy, got Canada listed as an 'energy super-power' (rivaled only by duracel and mother russia) and almost singlehandedly reunited the Beatles (rising from the dead to end the cat-strangling that Harper doth do to their song), dashing off a newly revised verse to Oh Canada seems just what we need to grow and prosper.
      James, that's some wacky tobbacky you're smoking.

  3. Um, James, you can't get much more "in-our-face" than changing our anthem.

    • Yes but in a non dynamic everyday grow and prosper sort of activist way…completely different…completely.

  4. James is on to it. Propose a change that is gender neutral – and at the same time turn the clock back to the glorious past -tradition. How can you be opposed to that? So, of course, anyone opposed to changes is anti-feminist and a reactionary radical.

    • You should only allow people in government that have the opinion confirmed by their constituents to submit changes. How they get the confirmation should be strict and regulated also. This will halt the world order charge to manipulate and weaken the governments.

  5. Feschuk, you're assuming that Harper is in charge of the PMO.

    My guess is that the same true-believers who achieved the putsch at Rights & Democracy is now in total control of the PMO.

    And given his weak polling numbers, my guess is that they have Harper by his cojones..

  6. Um Scott..
    My definition of in-your-face includes drafting a whole series of climate change regulations without really knowing how they would impact the largest sector in our economy.

    Your definition of in-your-face apparantly has to do with two words in the national anthem for a committee to study.

    Uh, good luck with that.

  7. That guy at the CBC that came up with the idea for a new Hockey Night in Canada theme song ran is a distant relative of Jennifer Heil (you don't think that post victory hug she gave Harper was for free do you?)

    Can dost imagine two bagpipers playing along, lads and lassies?

  8. You said it James.
    This is a government going about it's OWN business, trying to acheive the goals that they have set for THEMSELVES.

    My idea of running a country is much less selfish and much more inclusive..

    • This from a party that thinks the charter's only fit for TP…that's almost satire.

  9. I've always found that line in the anthem to be a sore spot but there have got to be a huge number of far more significant ways to increase gender neutrality in federal policy!

    • I agree. I've always disliked the gendered language in the anthem. But as much as I like the idea of opening the anthem up to be more inclusive of half our population (you know, the ones who work twice as hard for less pay as the half that usually leaves the toilet seat up) I simply cannot believe Harper has the best interests of women at heart.

      Frankly, if Harper wants my vote, he'll need to entice me with something a little more feminine and cuddly, like pay equity, perhaps, or maybe a national daycare plan.

  10. The Timmies sector, silly. It's all about the double-double voter block.

    • i can't really see the timmies crowd liking this too much…it's such an odd thing to do or suggest. Didn't he focus group this one? It's not like he didn"t have the time at all.

  11. I think individuals, government employees and elected officials should not be allowed to offer amendments for changes without their constituents approval. How they get this approval should also be strict and require email addresses.

    That will stop this push by world government to weaken and control country governments.

  12. Very funny, all that hooplah about the National Anthem. A poumpous song, if you ask me. You could sing it in Chinese for all I care. That's not important. It's trivial. It goes nowhere. It achieves nothing. So there.

  13. I won't stand for a change to the anthem. Bad enough when that girl slowed it down to an agonizingly awkward pace during the opening ceremonies in Vancouver. We, the people, must draw the line at lyric-monkeying. Note to self: tomorrow pen letter of outrage to my MP Rob Anders. I'm sure he'll respond quickly with an empathetic and thoughtful reply.

    • Hey Scott! You need to come up with a picture that the above can be a caption to. Just so you have a reason to give this guy some stuff!

  14. How dare you say this government is not willing to spend money! From this mornings Globe

    The government has increased its spending on the promotion of the January, 2009, Economic Action Plan by $5-million – on top of the initial allotment of $34-million – for a 15-per-cent increase.

    I am sure the amount above will pale in comparision to the promotional costs of Canada's new Anthem Action Plan once it gets rolling.

  15. In other not-spending-money-and-not-really-doing-anything news, Vic Toews was on Information Radio in Winnipeg this morning claiming the government's focus in the budget will be on job creation through encouraging investment.

    When asked what those plans are specifically he cited the great success of Tim Horton's "moving" its head office to Canada because of his government's improved investment climate. The host actually audibly snickered before catching himself.

  16. As an urban dwelling male, and the whitest one in the country at that, I always feel someone guilty talking about equality rights etc. That being said, if they change the anthem, I'm not particularly bothered by it, but I have to wonder whether or not there are not more pressing issues we all should be looking at in regards to gender equality and rights in Canada. Seems to me tweaking a word in the anthem is a whole lot of window dressing.

  17. This is an outrage! The lyrics to "O Canada" have been tinkered with exactly enough times</s>! Any more would be an abomination!

    Unless we can just toss out the English lyrics altogether and stick to the original, far superior French lyrics. I'd definitely go for that.

  18. I am disappointed you have not yet declared a photo caption contest for pic of Guergis, still in front benches, staring into camera over Harper's shoulder as he answered questions during QP. I would also expect Opposition to be smart enough to use this for press release, photo contests, etc. Ex, have picture of Harper, with correct quote and rebuttal below, and have cartoon bubble above Guergis, with pithy summary of PM position: "Frack You People! Frack Democracy! I Hate This Shithole Parliament!" I disagreed on Opp asking for resignation based on principle and logic. But not media and others. I did also say she should resign, and terrible politics not to, and Cons should and will pay price if so. And as Lib, was hopeful cons really would be so stupid as to leave her in, as they have. So I say, have at her and PM, and link them together, "disrespectin' parliament and canadians".

    re. your previous post, I too honestly wonder, often, if govt actually trying to lose power. MPCC would have buried detainee thing re. public consciousness, but too far gone now. Mad anthem suggestion, Guergis still minister, etc.. Maybe they don't want to be in govt when tax hikes and cuts come? I don't know, but hard to believe Opp being given gift after gift by mistake (tribute to Opp…"abilities" that nothing come of it yet). Maybe Opp doesn't want power either? What is real, unreal, bluff, doublebluff, triplebluff, etc.? I just stick to "reality" as best I can see it, but maybe I'm wrong. Who's to say?

  19. The strategy is clear, Scott – I'm amazed you can't see it. It all makes sense now. "Gay marriage" is far too important an accomplishment by our beloved and esteemed judiciary to be relegated to a few pages in a citizenship handbook. Those few reference pages purged from the handbook by Mr. Kenny are, even as we speak, being distilled down to a pithy stanza to be inserted right after "O Canada", as befits its ranking among great Canadian achievements – after all, "home" is offensive to the tens of thousands of Canadians (several of whom are Arars) who have never lived here and referencing "native lands" is a continuous poke in the eye to our national overseers to whom we've never made adequate reparation.

    • Ooops – meant …(several of whom are Khadrs)…hard to keep the jihadis straight.