Evidence of meeting #53 for Justice and Human Rights in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site.) The winning word was tribunal.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Ian Fine  Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission
  • Susheel Gupta  Acting Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
  • Diane Watts  Researcher, REAL Women of Canada

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Okay.

Mr. Goguen.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to all the witnesses for showing up for round two.

Mrs. Watts, I'll let you continue if you'd like to.

3:55 p.m.

Researcher, REAL Women of Canada

Diane Watts

Yes, I'll continue. Thank you very much.

The conference themes were that:

Pedophiles are “unfairly stigmatized and demonized” by society

“Children are not inherently unable to consent” to sex with an adult

An adult's desire to have sex with children is “normative”

—according to one of the topics of this convention—

pedophiles “have feelings of love and romance for children” in the same way adult heterosexuals and homosexuals have romantic feelings for one another

“The majority of pedophiles are gentle and [normal]

The [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] DSM should “focus on the needs” of the pedophile, and should have “a minimal focus on social control,” rather than obsessing about “the need to protect children”.

The specific objective of this conference was to present papers normalizing pedophilia in order to bring pressure on the American Psychological Association to reclassify pedophilia so as to reduce the stigma attached to the practitioners. According to B4U-ACT:

No one chooses to be emotionally and sexually attracted to children or adolescents. The cause is unknown; in fact, the development of attraction to adults is not understood.

The group goes on to say that it does not advocate treatment to change feelings of attraction to children or adolescents. This is the same type of reasoning that was used to bring other disorders into acceptance by the American Psychological Association, and this concerns us greatly, so we're very interested in having a very tightly phrased definition, if you're going to define anything that would specifically exclude pedophiles.

This isn't made public in the general media, but this is information that the committee should be aware of. This is not an unknown conspiracy. This has been going on for quite a while, so there's an objective to have wide-open definitions so that we can progress, supposedly, to this end.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Thank you.

Both Mr. Fine and Mr. Gupta seem to confirm what the case law says: that in essence, transsexuals also already enjoy human rights protection, because sex has always been defined as a permanent ground of discrimination. So from a purely legalistic point of view...and we'll concede that perhaps the act would promote acceptance and send a message that everyone has a right to be treated equally with dignity and respect. There's no issue with that, but from a purely legalistic point of view, is this bill not purely symbolic, from that point of view? Does it add anything as a protection that's not already there?

That's for either of you, if you wish.

4 p.m.

Acting Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

Susheel Gupta

I'll just state—and perhaps Mr. Fine has more to offer—that as a tribunal is an adjudicated body, I can't really provide an opinion on that. Our cases have spoken for themselves and will continue to speak....

4 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

The cases clearly indicate that protection is already afforded.

4 p.m.

Acting Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

Susheel Gupta

Under the current case law, that's correct.

4 p.m.

Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ian Fine

To answer your question, as I said at the outset, we currently accept complaints—and have forever—from transgendered individuals under the ground of sex, and sometimes under the ground of disability, and we will continue to do so. To answer your question, strictly speaking, I suppose the legislation isn't necessary, but we see other reasons why it would be important to include these two grounds under our act, and we do support them.

For one thing, it would provide the clarity that I think we believe is missing at this point, because as much as it's true that the commission and tribunals and courts do accept transgender issues as falling under the ground of sex, parties still debate that issue before those very tribunals and courts and question whether or not transgender issues fall under sex. In one case I know of, an issue was raised as to whether or not you could even raise the issue under sex and instead should raise it under disability.

There continue to be these debates, so for clarity reasons, we believe it would be a good thing to add these two grounds. Also, as I said at the outset, it would be a recognition of the discrimination that this group faces: the sometimes hostile and violent acts that this group faces in our society. So it would recognize the vulnerability of this group, of these individuals.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Thank you.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Thank you, Mr. Fine.

Mr. Casey.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ms. Watts, in your brief you refer to GLBT rights as special rights. Can you explain to me how the GLBT rights extend beyond the rights that are afforded to every Canadian?

4 p.m.

Researcher, REAL Women of Canada

Diane Watts

That would definitely occur if they conflict with parental rights. For example, it's happening in California, I believe. There is an effort to prohibit the counselling of certain GLBT designations to exit those categories and to become what they would think would be more comfortable and more adjusted to their family and societal surroundings. Now, there are efforts to prevent professionals from counselling these individuals. In the Yogyakarta Principles, if you read them, there are efforts there to say that everyone from the child up has a right to identify the way they want, and if they want to identify like that, the family should not interfere. The family would be an obstruction to their freedom to identify with whatever type of behaviour or identity they would want, regardless of what age. There is also a strong suggestion that there should not be any counselling to dissuade these people.

Where there would be a conflicting right between a child's determination to identify a certain way and the family's efforts to try to bring the child closer to the values of the family, that would be a conflict. And it's the same with the UN human rights declaration. It gives the family a position of special importance in society. It would be a problem if there was a conflict.

For example, in terms of being assaulted or discriminated against unfairly, we should definitely protect every Canadian. Every Canadian should be protected from assault, regardless of what their appearance is.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Ms. Watts, back in 2005, Parliament was debating legislation around same-sex marriage. You will undoubtedly recall attending at a parliamentary committee hearing—although it wasn't you; it was a witness. Your organization put forward the argument that passage of that legislation would open the floodgates to bigamy, polygamy, and incest. Now, I would expect you would agree with me that this has not happened.

Given what you forecast in 2005 with respect to the same-sex legislation and the very alarming suggestions today connecting this bill with the proliferation of the rights of pedophiles, what makes you think that's any more likely than the predictions you made back in 2005?

4:05 p.m.

Researcher, REAL Women of Canada

Diane Watts

Well, the argument of orientation was brought up in B.C. in relation to polygamy. This was their orientation. It was a part of the argument—not a major part, but it was part of the argument. This was their orientation, having several wives and that type of lifestyle.

On pedophilia, those are just facts. I'm not making that up. There are many people worldwide who want to promote this and who use the same follow-up on the arguments for freedom to identify and to express your sexual orientation. I can give you references that they want to include pedophilia. You heard it from the conference itself in Maryland.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Very briefly, Mr. Casey.