PHOTOS: Don Cherry, Canada’s best-known right-wing weirdo, wearing a suit that ought to be illegal. (Toronto Star photo.) Below: Boston-born tenor Remigio Pereira, the man who fiddled with the words of O Canada, much to Mr. Cherry’s distress, and Bacchus, the god of grapes, wine, winemaking, fertility, theatre, and ritual madness, who figures in this story.

Until Don Cherry spoke up, all the right-wing weirdos in Canada hardly knew what to think about this national anthem thing, what with those Tenors guys muckin’ up the words to O Canada at a ball game Tuesday night in San Diego.

I took it from the news coverage that the Tenors got the words to the Star Spangled Banner right, and sang it in English not Spanish as George W. Bush prescribed, because there were no reports of opposing groups of Anglophones and Hispanophones marching outside the stadium hurling insults and national hymns at one another and rightfully bearing their constitutionally protected assault rifles.

Nope, that’s next week at the Republican convention in Cleveland, and if you were thinking of catching a ball game in the onetime Plum City, I’d advise against it, although not just because of Donald Trump and all the rifles. See, Cleveland’s American League ball team, which I’m just not going to name here, is on the road next week. If anyone else can think of a reason to visit Cleveland, that’s what the comments section is for.

Anyway, I have been sternly informed by one of my readers that someone else sang the Star Spangled Banner, and they must have got it right.

Normally, talk of changing the words of the national anthem gets the right wing here in Canada worked into a full-blown swivet. They were almost weeping with rage on the Conservative side of the House of Commons at the thought of changing “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.”

And don’t even get them going by about taking God out of that song! After all, He was put there by our forefathers back in … um … well, 1980, actually.

Plus, I’m sure almost everyone here has seen that angry Facebook post from one of our weird right-wing shirttail relatives complaining about the Vancouver school board (or maybe it was the Toronto school board) letting school kids sing the song in an unofficial Canadian language. The anonymous author is generally seething with fury that it’s not even an exact translation!

I always write right back to say, ummm … do you know what the French version says? “As is thy arm ready to wield the sword, so also is it ready to carry the cross.” Seriously, people? Those who understand French isn’t a foreign language in this country usually unfriend me soon after that, which actually kinda works for me.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the Canadian right-wing weirdo’s national anthem dilemma. After all, that all lives matter thing that Boston-born, Ottawa-raised quartet member Remigio Pereira stuck in there unannounced is a right-wing meme, a sly way of saying something quite the opposite from what you appear to be saying. It is not at all clear, however, that Mr. Pereira understood this, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

Just the same, it’s the sort of thing Canadian right-wing weirdos are prone to mutter when they perceive, you know, political correctness, which appears to be the terminology normally used on the right in this country to describe anyone who disapproves of overtly racist, sexist or otherwise offensive language.

But changing the words of the national anthem – ever, for any reason, except maybe to honour Ayn Rand or property rights – usually gets their shorts in a twist.

Thanks to Mr. Cherry, who is Canada’s best-known right-wing weirdo, though, the dilemma has been solved for them.

He’s simply shuffled the blame over to the left-wing weirdos and told them to shut up, as the right usually does. You know, like blaming the NDP for Tory policies cooked in the 44 years those guys ran Alberta like it was their private club. Happens all the time! Either that, or maybe he just thought a tenor was a purple bill that may soon have a portrait he disapproves of on it.

Whatever. The Tenors are a Canadian group, and we Canadians have been talking about changing the words to O Canada. So a little experimentation may have been in order.

However, if they were going to fool around with the national anthem, they really ought to have done it at home, where a knowledgeable crowd could have given appropriate feedback immediately from the cheap seats.

It would have been rude, of course, seeing as three quarters of them aren’t American born, for the Tenors to fool around with the Star Spangled Banner on either side of the longest undefended border in the world – undefended, that is, until Mr. Trump becomes president and we make them build that wall, as well as pay for it.

Still, it’s my opinion that the Star Spangled Banner could stand a little Canadianization – more true patriot love and fewer bombs bursting in air. Anyway, I like the Anacreontic version of that song, especially the part that goes, “And, besides I’ll instruct you, like me, to intwine, the Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s vine!”

I’m just saying this as a good neighbour. It’s something our American cousins can think about, and the Canadian Tenors, too, if they like. After all, they’re going to be back on stage in California at the end of the month!

Meanwhile, though, can someone please do something about Mr. Cherry’s suits? I mean, seriously, he’s practically desecrating the flag!

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  1. The Canadian tenors is how they began. Then a few years ago they dropped the word Canadian and are known as the tenors. But if govt can change things to be politically correct, why can’t the average Canadian?

  2. These days you can send troops halfway around the world to a potential WW III powderkeg and it barely elicits a yawn. But change a syllable or two in the National Anthem and WW III really does break out.

    Anyways I think it’s time to find an alternative national anthem. Why not? All prfessional sports teams are sporting alternative jerseys. So why not an alternative national anthem? Something more happy clappy.

    I’ve always like the 1967 centennial song.

    1. What a blast from the past! I’m suffering from a huge dose of nostalgia. My father bought an Expo 67 Passport (that’s what they called the season “ticket”) for all of us kids. I spent the entire summer there, I think, visiting every pavilion I could, when I wasn’t working at my high school summer job. Everything seemed possible then.

      Thanks for that.

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