Update: Gender Rights Bills

Posted on October 27, 2011 by

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UPDATE: I contacted both MPs on their respective gender rights bills, Fry’s C-276 and Garrison’s C-279. Both bills went through a First Reading. Both are private member’s bills. Regarding Private Member’s bills, the  way it works is that MPs are assigned a ‘priority number’ by lottery. MPs draw a number (out of a bucket, or something, I don’t know) and low numbers go first. (Yes, Canada, this is actually how your government works.) Lucky Randall Garrison got #38 and Hedy Fry got #40. So Garrison’s private members bills go first, before Hedy Fry’s. Hedy also has several other private members bills, so the expectation is that she will allow Garrison’s bill to become THE gender rights bill that goes on to a second reading, while Fry prioritizes her other private members bills.

At any rate, given the speed at which private members bills are going through the Commons, the expectation is that the Gender Rights Bill (whichever it is) probably will not come up for a Second Reading and debate until late February. My suggestion would be to target your local MP, e.g. Fredericton’s Tory MP Keith Ashfield, when he comes back to the home office on the Christmas break. Merry Christmas and  a Happy New Year, Mr. Grinch. We’re coming after you with a surprise visit from the Land of Misfit Toys.

Bill Siksay’s Gender Rights bill, passed by the House of Commons in 2010, never made it through the Senate because Parliament was adjourned and the election was called, killing all pending legislation. The Liberal Party and the NDP have both re-introduced Bill Siksay’s legislation as new legislation. On September 19, Hedy Fry, Liberal, introduced Bill C-276 as Private Member’s Bill, C-276, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression). Then on September 21, Randall Garrison, NDP, introduced another Private Member’s bill, C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression).

I’m very glad that Bill Siksay’s bill is being reintroduced. Bill Siksay retired from Parliament before the 2011 election and so could not reintroduce it himself. However, I don’t see the point of introducing two [nearly?] identical bills. The only point of that seems to be competition for which party gets credit for introducing the legislation. Frankly, I don’t care who gets credit for it, so long as one or the other bill is passed all the way through Parliament and signed into law. My fear is that having two competing bills will delay the process until they decide which one to put forward. So far both bills have gone through their first reading and are on their way to committee and a second reading. I will be tracking this legislation very closely and alert the readership as to when and how to take action to advocate for this bill.

Hedy Fry’s statement on her bill:

“The bill adds gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code sections regarding hate crimes and sentencing provisions providing explicit protection to transgender and transsexual Canadians from discrimination in all areas of federal jurisdiction. It would give transsexual and transgender Canadians direct access to the protections provided for in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.

As many of my colleagues may know, the bill was passed by the House in the previous Parliament when it was sponsored by former MP, Bill Siksay. Given that the House has previously approved the legislation, I look forward to working with my colleagues to once again pass this urgently needed legislation, as Australia has recently done.”

Randall Garrison’s statement on his bill:

“Mr. Speaker, this is a reintroduction of the bill that passed this House before the last election but, unfortunately, not the Senate. There is an urgent need for this legislation to help end the discrimination, social exclusion and. all too often. violence that face transgender Canadians.

I hope to work with members from all parties to ensure that this important bill becomes law. Let us take this step together so that all the Susans, Regans, Jordans, Daphnes, and all our other transgender friends and family members can take their rightful place in all aspects of Canadian life.”

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Posted in: FQ