Mauril Belanger’s attempt to change the lyrics to Canada’s national anthem have hit another snag in the House of Commons, as the Ottawa MP’s health continues to deteriorate.
The Liberal government attempted to move a motion Thursday that would have permitted to bill to be shepherded by Chief Government whip Andrew Leslie, covering all the bases in case Belanger isn’t able to be physically present in the House to initiate the final steps.
The motion required unanimous consent from MPs on all sides, which it did not receive.
There were cries of “shame” from the Liberal side of the House, directed at the Conservative benches.
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How would gender-neutral lyrics in ‘O Canada’ debated at the House look like?
Green Party leader Elizabeth May also took to 桑拿会所 to express her displeasure at what had happened. She later explained that she had clearly heard Conservatives saying “no” to the motion but wasn’t sure exactly which MPs did so.
What a shame! CPC blocks consent to allow Mauril Belanger’s PMB on inclusive O Canada to proceed, even if he is too sick to be here.#cdnpoli
— Elizabeth May (@ElizabethMay) June 9, 2016
Liberals weren’t much happier.
[email protected]_Belanger’s bill deserves to move forward. Denying consent because he isn’t in the chamber just so the bill dies is just sad.
— Sonia Sidhu MP (@SoniaLiberal) June 9, 2016
Belanger’s bill, if it doesn’t die in his absence, would change the lyrics to O Canada to be more gender neutral. Specifically, the line “in all thy sons command” would be changed to “in all of us command.”
Belanger recently served as honorary Speaker of the House of Commons for a single day and is dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — an incurable neurodegenerative disease, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
READ MORE: Tories block bid to ensure dying MP sees gender neutral ‘O Canada’ bill passed
His caucus colleagues are trying to get Belanger into the chamber on Friday so he can, as required, move the motion for the adoption of his bill at report stage if no amendments are sought. Liberal MPs have told reporters that it might be the last time the ailing MP will be able to come in to work.
It’s not the first time the Conservatives have apparently attempted to use procedure to halt the bill’s progress. In early May, they put up enough speakers to fill the first hour of allotted debate on the bill, rather than let the debate run out and thereby force a second reading vote the following week.
WATCH: House of Commons offers touching tribute to Mauril Belanger
Liberal MP Greg Fergus then sought unanimous consent to continue the debate for another hour — which would have had the same effect of forcing a vote — but Conservative MPs refused to give it.
At the time, Tory MP Andrew Scheer denied the Conservatives tried to hold up the bill, saying they treated it the same way as they would any other private member’s bill. On Thursday, he repeated those lines.
“We all love and support Mauril and we understand he’s going through a difficult time,” said Scheer “But it’s not about Mauril, it’s about the bill itself.”
Scheer explained that the vast majority of the Conservative caucus is opposed to the bill.
“They’ve heard from their constituents. I think the vast majority of Canadians feel they haven’t even been consulted or even informed that this change to their national anthem is even happening.”
Scheer said the government was informed “long ago” that the Conservatives would not facilitate the bill’s passage.
With files from the Canadian Press.