Note to readers: The Honourable Tobias Enverga Jr. passed away on November 16, 2017. Learn more about his work in Parliament.
In times of change, it’s more important than ever to remember who we are. As countries across the globe show signs of stress and turbulence, we, Canadians, remain firmly committed to our values. And while a fiery debate has been taking place in the Senate surrounding the words of our national anthem, it is clear that “O Canada” is a great source of pride for all Canadians, regardless of how that debate unfolds.
That’s why I’ve introduced a motion calling for the rules of the Senate to be amended so that the singing of our national anthem, “O Canada,” would be incorporated into our proceedings. This has been a practice in the House of Commons since 1995, when its Committee on Procedure and House Affairs tabled a report with this recommendation, which was subsequently adopted the following day without debate. They have sung the anthem every Wednesday there since.
As a proud Filipino-Canadian, our national anthem is a source of deep pride for me. As such, I feel that this great symbol of our nation should be sung loud and proud in the Senate Chamber.
Our national anthem unifies our citizens from coast to coast to coast. Formalizing the practice of singing “O Canada“ every Tuesday, which would ordinarily be the first sitting day of the week, would be a highly symbolic gesture of unity — something our quickly-changing chamber could use now more than ever.
Beyond the symbolic importance, through the singing of our national anthem all senators would be reminded of what their roles, responsibilities, and duties are, and who we, Canadian senators, ultimately serve. Our duty and responsibility has been, and will always be, to Canada and the Canadian people. This weekly reminder, by way of national pride, will prompt honourable senators to remain conscious of this.
Furthermore, the motion would allow the Speaker of the Senate to invite soloists or groups to the Senate to lead senators in the anthem, creating an opportunity for musicians across the country to come to the Red Chamber and witness the Senate at work. This would undoubtedly be a good opportunity for public outreach, as well as an avenue for recognizing artists and days of importance.
As a strong advocate of diversity and multiculturalism, I truly believe that this country is so successful because while we celebrate our differences, we also come together to unite under one country, one anthem. As such, it is my strong belief that by singing the national anthem, once a week, in the Senate, we would be embodying the very unity for which “O Canada” stands.
Tobias C. Enverga is a senator representing Ontario. He is a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, as well as the Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
This article appeared in the June 30, 2017 edition of the Hill Times.