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Call to modify 'O Canada' quickly knocked down

Not so fast, Mr. Prime Minister. We will thank you not to touch a word of O Canada.

Just days after O Canada was played repeatedly for the country's 14 gold medal wins at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, the Conservative government said it was thinking of tinkering with the national anthem to make the wording gender neutral.

Governor General Michaelle Jean said in the "throne speech" opening the session of Parliament that a committee would consider replacing the words "all thy sons command" in the lyrics.

"Our government will also ask Parliament to examine the original gender-neutral English wording," she said.

Robert Stanley Weir created the English version of the anthem in 1908 and the line originally was "thou doust us all command."

His grandson, Steve Simpson, said the word "son" is not about gender but a reference to a patriotic command from a goddess.

The surprise proposal set off a furor, with many Canadians rallying to keep O Canada as it is.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper got the message loud and clear and has withdrawn the request to Parliament, spokesman Dimitri Soudas said on Friday.

'Emotional' airport incident causes stir

The Liberals are asking for an inquiry to determine if the alleged abusive behavior of Conservative Cabinet minister Helena Guergis threatened airport security in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

The minister of state for the status of women apologized for speaking "emotionally" to Air Canada staff.

Airline employees and witnesses said Guergis arrived just before her flight to Montreal was to leave and became irritated when she was asked to check her oversize luggage and remove her boots when they set off metal detectors.

Slamming the boots into a bin, she yelled and swore at staff for delaying her and later tried to force open a locked security door to board the plane.

It's another concern for Guergis, whose husband, former Alberta Member of Parliament Rahim Jaffer, is to be sentenced this month for driving while impaired and possessing cocaine.

News in brief

• The Canadian government pledged to continue spending the remaining $19 billion in economic stimulus funds while ushering in a new era of tight-fiscal restraint. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said his "stay-the-course" plan projects a return to a balanced budget by 2014-15 by curtailing spending and freezing politicians' salaries.

• Canada is responding to a request for aid from President Michelle Bachelet of Chile after last weekend's earthquake. Chile has requested a temporary field hospital with surgical facilities, generators for hospitals, a pontoon bridge and satellite phones. There are about 5,000 Canadians living in Chile. About 300 are unaccounted for after the quake.

Facts and figures

The Canadian dollar has climbed to a six-week high after improved economic growth figures. It reached 97.35 cents U.S. on Friday, while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0273 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

Keeping its pledge to leave interest rates unchanged at least until the second half of the year, the Bank of Canada made no change in the 0.25 percent key rate, while the prime lending rate is steady at 2.25 percent.

Stock markets advanced, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,953 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 1,546 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 10, 19, 23, 24, 33, 38; bonus 21. (Feb. 27) 4, 6, 14, 23, 25, 36; bonus 27. Lotto Max: (Feb. 26) 2, 27, 30, 32, 35, 36, 38; bonus 39.

Regional briefs

• One of three people charged with corruption over the British Columbia government's project to computerize health records is Ron Danderfer, a former assistant deputy health minister. Danderfer, who was removed from the job three years ago, was charged with influence peddling, breach of trust and fraud. Dr. Jonathan Burns, a consultant, and James Taylor, of the Fraser Health Authority, are accused of attempting to benefit from the project.

• Workers in Ottawa drilled holes, planted sticks of dynamite and blew up ice in the Rideau River near Parliament Hill last weekend to make sure there will be no ice jams and flooding during the spring thaw.

• Here's the perfect fixer-upper for someone in need of a secret headquarters. A mountainside property housing a former NATO satellite station that once tracked top-secret submarine movements is for sale in Nova Scotia. The asking price is $1.4 million and includes a large golf ball-shaped antenna and a satellite dish. In the market? Go to gwkimberent.com.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.

Call to modify 'O Canada' quickly knocked down 03/06/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 6, 2010 7:07pm]
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