By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – A bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender Canadians…
OTTAWA – A bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender Canadians was approved by the House of Commons on Wednesday.
The Opposition private member’s legislation passed by a vote of 149-137, with the crucial support of 16 Conservatives, including four cabinet ministers.
It was one of the first tests of the Conservative caucus’ resolve on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) rights in Canada at a time when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has been mounting a strong defence of such rights abroad.
Baird, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt and Heritage Minister James Moore were among the Conservatives who supported the bill. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, most of his front bench and the vast majority of his backbenchers opposed it.
Opposition parties were united in their support for the bill, sponsored by New Democrat Randall Garrison.
MPs are generally free to vote as they see fit on private members’ bills.
“Today, New Democrats are proud to have contributed to ensuring equal protection under the law from discrimination and hatred based on gender identity,” Garrison said in a statement after the vote.
“Transgender and transsexual citizens are among the most marginalized and are too often victims of harassment and acts of violence.”
The bill had triggered vigorous, sometimes emotional debate in the Commons.
After passing at second reading — with the support of 15 Tories and another nine abstaining — the bill’s momentum seemed to falter as some Conservatives began to express reservations about its impact and effectiveness.
There were complaints that the language in the bill was confusing and vague, including the term “gender expression” and “gender identity.”
Garrison tried to strike a compromise by removing the term “gender expression.”
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel teared up in the Commons earlier this month as she spoke about the discrimination that transgender Canadians face, even as she questioned the bill’s effectiveness.
“Both sides of this debate should agree that equality and protection against harm are two fundamental values that all Canadians of any gender, any age, any background are entitled to,” Rempel said.
“However, as legislators we are also tasked with deciding if the proposed legislation is sound. Given the lack of clarity that I found in the bill, I do have concern about its viability.”
Other Conservative MPs opposed the bill on other grounds, such as the argument that pedophiles would be protected when they lurked in public bathrooms.
Shortly before Wednesday’s vote, Calgary MP Rob Anders tabled a petition “on behalf of thousands” of Canadians opposed to what he called “the bathroom bill.”
“These constituents feel that it is the duty of the House of Commons to protect and safeguard our children from any exposure and harm that would come from giving a man access to women’s public washroom facilities,” Anders said.
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal had supported adding transgender identity to federal anti-discrimination and anti-hate legislation, saying it would promote acceptance and send a message about tolerance.
While some MPs argued that the transgendered were already protected on the basis of sex and disability, the tribunal said it would be better to have explicit protection so that the question is not perpetually challenged.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 7:15 PM - 0 Comments
C-279, the transgendered rights bill, has passed the House of Commons with amendments by a vote of 149-137.
Randall Garrison’s bill was supported by the New Democrats, the majority of Liberals (Judy Sgro and John McKay abstained), the Bloc Quebecois, Bruce Hyer, Elizabeth May and, by my unofficial count, 17 Conservative MPs: Erin O’Toole, Bernard Trottier, Terrence Young, David Wilks, Laurie Hawn, Michael Chong, Chris Alexander, Shelly Glover, Kellie Leitch, Cathy McLeod, Deepak Obhrai, Gerald Keddy, Jim Flaherty, John Baird, James Moore, Lisa Raitt and John Duncan.
Mr. Garrison has released the following statement.
Today, New Democrats are proud to have contributed to ensuring equal protection under the law from discrimination and hatred based on gender identity.
We are happy there was all party support for formal protection of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Variant Canadians’ rights under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code with Bill C-279.
We need to recognize the work of the many people and organizations across the country who worked hard to advance this important issue.
Our efforts represent a huge step forward but there is still much work to be done to ensure equal access for Trans Canadians to simple services like health care, housing, and jobs. Transgender and Transsexual citizens are among the most marginalized and are too often victims of harassment and acts of violence.
We must continue to act on this important issue and, now that the bill has passed through the House of Commons, we urge the Senate to move quickly to guarantee the same rights and protections for Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Variant Canadians that all of us enjoy.
Update 10:30pm. The Canadian Press counts 16 Conservative MPs who supported the bill. I’m not sure how to account for the discrepancy. I’ll consult the official roll call in the morning to double-check my tally.
Update 9:55am. The official tally makes it 18 Conservatives. Somehow I missed Bruce Stanton.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:50 PM - 0 Comments
Bill C-279, the transgendered rights bill proposed by NDP MP Randall Garrison, comes to a vote this evening in the House. Here is previous coverage of the bill.
The second reading vote gives a sense of the votes to watch—specifically those Conservatives who voted in favour and what additional votes might be in play because of previous absences. One Conservative vote, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, tells me she will support the proposed amendments and the main bill. I’m also told Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who wasn’t present for the second reading vote, will vote in favour.
Mr. Garrison’s office says they expect a very tight vote, but remain optimistic.
Update 1:53pm. Michael Chong will also support the amendments and, if they succeed, the amended bill.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 10:44 AM - 0 Comments
The Speaker ruled last night that the amendments Randall Garrison had hoped to make to C-279, the transgendered rights bill, at committee could be submitted to the House. Mr. Garrison promptly did just that and it seems to be his hope that those amendments will improve the bill’s chances of passing at report stage.
As we have just heard, the package of amendments is quite complex, but it really only does two things. Nine amendments are required because of the complexity of legal drafting, but again, only two things are happening here.
The first is that the bill adds the definition of “gender identity”, which we just heard the Speaker read out in the House. The second is that the term “gender expression” is removed from the bill.
I hope this reassures those members who wanted a somewhat narrower bill, a bill that was somewhat easier to explain in public, and a bill that might rule out some of the more extreme concerns or fears that some people had. I believe that if we approve these amendments, we will have that bill in front of us.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 10:51 AM - 0 Comments
The bill passed at second reading in June with those 15 Conservatives voting in favour, but committee hearings on the bill ended in acrimony (here is the transcript). As a result, the bill was reported back to the House without the amendments that Randall Garrison, the bill’s sponsor, had hoped to make. Mr. Garrison is now hoping to have those amendments moved and considered in the House, but it will be for the Speaker to decide if they are in order (see “selection of motions for debate” here).
The fate of those amendments could conceivably have some bearing on the bill’s ultimate passage. And in addition to those 15 Conservatives who voted in favour, there are another 16 Conservatives and a half dozen opposition MPs who didn’t vote at second reading.
Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber explained his concerns with the bill in November. Former NDP MP Bill Siksay, the sponsor of the original version of the bill, responded to some of the critics of the bill in an interview two years ago.
By Charlie Gillis - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
Jenna Talackova failed to win the Miss Universe crown, but she inspired many
Fairest of the fair
Jenna Talackova may have failed to win the Miss Universe crown, but she inspired transgendered people with her battle to compete. The Vancouverite, who had sex-change surgery at 19, was disqualified because she was not a “naturally born” woman, as per pageant rules. She threatened to sue before contest owner Donald Trump intervened on the basis that she was a legally recognized female in Canada (surely Trump’s most sensible public statement all year). Talackova went on to win Miss Congeniality.
Watch in 2013 for the erasure of Bo Xilai from the official history of the Chinese Communist Party. The former party chief in Chongqing was seen as a potential president before his wife, Gu Kailai, was implicated last spring in the murder of a British businessman and the family’s corrupt dealings were exposed for all in China to see. Now, with Gu convicted, Bo facing bribery charges and with public anger over corruption on the rise in China, the party is denying he had much influence to begin with.
Conservative MP Rob Anders, a reliable contender for space on this page in past years, outdid himself in 2012 by claiming that NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair “helped hasten” Jack Layton’s death. The Calgary MP, known for sleeping in the Commons and for dismissing Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, told a reporter that Mulcair implicitly pressured the cancer-stricken Layton to relinquish the NDP leadership in the run-up to the 2011 election—a theory the Prime Minister’s Office quickly disavowed. Anders wound up grovelling to Layton’s widow, Olivia Chow. But his apologies weren’t enough for some. One Calgary man started an online petition to have Anders removed from the Tory caucus. Continue…
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 10:08 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The New Democrats are blasting a Conservative MP for attacking a private…
OTTAWA – The New Democrats are blasting a Conservative MP for attacking a private member’s bill that would give the transgendered greater protection under human rights law.
Rob Anders has posted a note on his website that says the bill would give transgendered men access to women’s public washrooms.
The Calgary MP is inviting Canadians to sign a petition urging MPs to vote against the bill.
His website says it’s the duty of the House of Commons to safeguard children from exposure to giving a man access to women’s washrooms.
The New Democrat MP behind the private members bill, Randall Garrison, says Anders’ petition is based on “ignorance, misinformation, and fear.”
The Victoria MP issued a statement Thursday saying his bill would only amend the Canadian Human Rights Code and hate crime laws to protect the transgendered.
It is not about access to bathrooms, Garrison said.
“Unfortunately this is what we have come to expect from Mr. Anders. Perhaps it is time for his weekly apology,” said Garrison.
It’s the second time in a week that Anders has come under fire.
He apologized after saying that NDP Leader Tom Mulcair helped hasten the death of his predecessor Jack Layton a few months after the last federal election.
Anders claimed Mulcair was making it obvious before the last federal election that if Layton wasn’t well enough to campaign he should step aside.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 1:46 PM - 0 Comments
Rob Anders is circulating a petition that suggests Bill C-279, which deals with extending human rights protection to transgendered individuals, is “intended to give transgendered men access to women’s public washroom facilities.” This argument has been raised by opponents of the bill before—here is Conservative MP Dean Allison raising it during debate on a previous version of the legislation.
I think it’s just an alarmist argument from people who do not support extending human rights coverage to a very marginalized group and a group that suffers discrimination in our society. There’s nothing in the bill that will legalize assault, sexual assault, exhibitionism, voyeurism, harassment – any of those kinds of things. What’s inappropriate and illegal in a women’s washroom or a gendered space remains illegal and inappropriate. There’s nothing in this bill that would contemplate changing that …
The reality now is that transsexual people – people who have gone through the sex change process – we already share washrooms with, and we already share washrooms with transgendered people, and most of us aren’t doing a gender check on everybody who’s in the bathroom. If the bathroom is being used appropriately, it’s not an issue. The other reality is that I know of no jurisdiction that has changed the law to establish full human rights for transgendered and transsexual people that has seen change in what happens in bathrooms in terms of criminal behaviour I can’t find any evidence that that happens. If someone can show me some, fine, but I’ve never found any, and no one who has raised this issue has ever been able to point out that those kinds of things happening.
C-279 passed at second reading in June with 14 Conservative MPs voting in favour.