An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.

The enactment also amends the Criminal Code to extend the protection against hate propaganda set out in that Act to any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression and to clearly set out that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Oct. 18, 2016 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

June 14th, 2017 / 6:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

I have a question and a comment because we've had a lot of talk about when Bill C-16 comes into effect and legislation needing to be changed. Obviously that's new legislation. I guess I have a two-part question. At this point, is gender defined in law? The second question I have—and I'll go back and give you another opportunity to comment on this because I did have a conversation offline on it—is whether “sex” is defined, and whether the courts have spoken to what is defined by “sex”.

June 14th, 2017 / 5:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Despite the fact that it hasn't been used, as Mr. Clement very rightly pointed out, we've now passed a bill, which is now in the Senate, that is going to require us to use it a lot more.

Is there any reason we can't change that, other than it's consistent with the Customs Act? I'll be honest with you, I thought it had to do with a decision that was made by the Supreme Court 20 years ago regarding what sex of officer could do the search. That's something separate.

So the only thing is being consistent with an act that's likely going to have to be changed under Bill C-16?

June 14th, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We drafted this amendment following consultations with various groups that advocate protection for transgender persons, who might want to ensure that strip searches are conducted by an appropriate individual.

Despite our qualms over the very existence of certain aspects of this clause, we at least want the language used to be consistent with the fact that this is 2017 and to reflect the fact that we are at last honouring the rights of the transgender community, for example, in the spirit of bills such as C-16.

PrideStatements By Members

June 14th, 2017 / 2:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, for only the second time in Canada's history, we will raise the Pride flag on Parliament Hill.

Raising the flag to wave proudly on Parliament Hill is an important symbol of our commitment to ensuring Canada is safe, inclusive, and welcoming. With the passage of Bill C-16 from this place and Canada's leadership as the co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition, important steps are being taken to recognize this commitment.

With the reported persecution of the LGBTQ2 community in places such as Chechnya, celebrating Pride affirms our efforts to advance the rights of LGBTQ2 people around the world.

Across Canada, I invite all Canadians to join the Pride celebrations. I look forward to the Toronto Pride parade, Faith+Pride hosted by the MCC, the Trans March and the Dyke March, started by Lisa Hayes and Lesha Van Der Bij.

Pride is a time to celebrate, support, and remember.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

June 9th, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.
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Liberal

James Maloney Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, all individuals should be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity. From appointing the member for Edmonton Centre as the Prime Minister's Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 Issues to introducing Bill C-16, which is currently before the Senate, our government has consistently demonstrated our commitment to the promotion and protection of LGBTQ rights.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs update the House on the two developments announced yesterday that would advance the rights of LGBTQ people globally?

Pride MonthStatements By Members

June 6th, 2017 / 2:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, June is Pride Month in Toronto. Events will be taking place all month to raise awareness and show solidarity with the LGBTQ2 community, culminating with the pride parade. I am proud that our Prime Minister was the first ever sitting leader to march at pride and is a party leader with the courage and conviction to voice unequivocal support for the LGBTQ2 community in Canada. I am also proud that our government has introduced Bill C-16, to make targeted acts against the trans community a hate crime, and Bill C-32, which makes the age of sexual consent equal for heterosexual and homosexual young couples.

I am most proud of the residents of my riding of Parkdale—High Park, who despite a climate of rising intolerance both internationally and here at home, remain steadfast champions in the fight against homophobia and transphobia, constituents who believe, as I do, in equality for all, regardless of how we identify or whom we love.

This month I urge all members to show their pride and their solidarity.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and BiphobiaStatements By Members

May 17th, 2017 / 2:05 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark the 13th annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. This day started in Montreal as an urgent call for an end to the discrimination, hatred and violence that still face the LGBTQ community. It has since grown as well to become a day of celebration of sexual and gender diversity.

Anti-LGBTQ violence is still all often a reality both at home and abroad. Recent events like the ongoing campaign of persecution against gay men in Chechnya and the epidemic of murders of transgender women in El Salvador, 17 so far this year, should be cause for action.

Unfortunately, this day also marks another anniversary, another year of the Senate failing to pass legislation guaranteeing transgender Canadians the same rights and protections the rest of us already enjoy. Once again, the current Senate hearings on Bill C-16 have had the ugly side effects of providing a public platform for transphobia.

Members of the Senate need to respect the will of the elected House, which first passed this legislation six years ago and twice since, and get the job done before they rise for the summer. Otherwise they risk killing this bill again.

Gender Equality Week ActPrivate Members' Business

May 16th, 2017 / 6:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

moved that Bill C-309, An Act to establish Gender Equality Week, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to rise today to once again speak in support of my private member's bill, Bill C-309, An Act to establish Gender Equality Week, as it is read a third time. I would like to thank my colleagues in this House for their interest in this bill, for their important contributions to the debate at second reading and at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, and for their support. I would also like to thank once more the members of my incredible team for their tireless efforts and the stakeholders, community organizations, and Canadians from all walks of life who shared their views with us. In particular, I would like to thank the Strength in Stories team for the ideas and inspiration that helped bring us to where we are today.

Gender equality week would provide us with a critical opportunity to engage and address areas in which gender-based disparities persist. As my colleagues in this chamber are aware, my team and I elaborated on these disparities in the preamble of this bill.

Importantly, gender equality week is not an occasion to celebrate accomplishments, but, as reflected in the preambular paragraphs, it is an initiative that seeks to raise awareness of the most profound remaining challenges and it offers a platform to work collectively on concrete solutions.

The resounding vote of 287-1 in this House to send the bill to committee at second reading, in my view, revealed that acknowledgement of these challenges goes far beyond partisan affiliation. All of us bear individual and collective responsibility in a society that categorically and systematically treats and values genders differently.

In short, if we truly seek to address these challenges, the pivotal steps are to recognize them frankly and to ensure that they are understood. The federal government cannot solve these issues and problems by itself. Gender equality requires awareness and engagement on the part of all Canadians.

To be absolutely clear, I am very proud of what we are already doing to achieve gender equality and equity. I applaud the leadership of our Prime Minister and of the federal government, who are working to address systemic gender-based gaps that have permeated Canadian society since Confederation.

The Prime Minister formed Canada's first cabinet with female and male parity. He also appointed a woman to be the government House leader and a minister who would focus exclusively on gender issues. These were also firsts in Canadian history.

The Government of Canada also launched an inquiry into Canada's missing and murdered indigenous women.

What is more, the Minister of Status of Women is developing a federal strategy against gender-based violence. The government also announced the implementation of gender-based analysis, or GBA+, in all federal government departments to ensure that gender issues are taken into account in all government policies and legislation.

In early December 2016, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Status of Women announced that Nova Scotia businesswoman and civil rights activist Viola Desmond will be the very first Canadian woman to be featured on a Canadian banknote.

The Government of Canada introduced Bill C-16, which is currently before the Senate. It protects Canadians of minority gender identity and expression by adding gender identity and expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

I would also like to thank my colleague, the member for Edmonton-Centre, and the special advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues for his tireless work as an advocate for Canadians of minority gender identity and expression.

As my colleagues know, in budget 2017, the federal government has committed to allocating $3.6 million over three years, starting this year, to establish a LGBTQ2 Secretariat within the Privy Council Office.

I believe that this initiative is important to the development and implementation of government-led initiatives for the LGBTQ2 community, and I hope that gender equality week can contribute to these efforts.

On the international stage, Canada has seized the opportunity to serve on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and is a strong supporter of the UN HeForShe campaign.

As a Canadian delegate at the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which was held in New York last March, and together with the representatives of such countries as Pakistan, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon, I committed to making the kind of efforts that Canada and parliamentarians have made to promote gender equality.

I was pleased to hear positive feedback on BillC-309 from representatives and other delegates. In Canada and abroad, there is definitely a will to eliminate the gender gap. I have no doubt that if we continue to work together to eliminate gender disparities in our respective societies, we can find constructive, long-term solutions.

Once again, I wish to acknowledge the leadership of our Prime Minister and the Government of Canada in promoting the equality of men and women.

Important as these and other actions are, more work remains ahead of us than behind us. To close the remaining gaps, the government will need the advocacy, support, and commitment of Canadians.

Bill C-309 recognizes this need and it issues a call to action to all Canadians to become involved: men, women, Canadians of minority gender identity and expression, children, students, educators, civil servants of all levels of government, young and established professionals, new Canadians, our indigenous peoples, Canadians in law enforcement and our armed forces, and seniors.

Involvement in gender equality week could take a wide range of forms, and some of these forms include town hall discussions, university and college colloquia, music, plays, literature, film projects, workplace round tables, formulation and presentation of academic research, public rallies, fundraisers, social media, radio and television events, and campaigns.

Our consultations with various groups, organizations, and levels of government helped us draft a substantive preamble that gives Canadians a clear idea of the challenges we face. Gender-based violence and the gender wage gap are particularly critical obstacles that we, as Canadians, must tackle and eliminate. Active engagement will lead to real progress on both those fronts.

Now that I have had the privilege of hearing different perspectives and working with colleagues from all parties in this chamber on Bill C-309 for the past several months, I look forward to engaging with our counterparts in the Senate in the months ahead.

I encourage fellow members to once again support this bill, as the time to act is now. Canadians want us, as parliamentarians, to address the most critical issues facing our country. Through gender equality week, we would build a platform through which we can generate momentum to resolve a major multi-faceted issue that faces our country today, gender inequality.

This House has the opportunity to send a powerful message to Canadians that their elected representatives in concert seek to engage and work with civil society to address gender-based disparities.

I look forward to continuing to work toward establishing a national annual gender equality week, and I look forward to working on this project with colleagues from this House and the Senate.

May 11th, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Thank you, Minister, for coming to the committee.

I was recently watching a panel discussion in which you and the Minister of Health were discussing the proposed marijuana legislation. I forget who the host was. Of particular interest to me was a comment you made, that you had not ever been a cannabis user, nor did you expect to be after this legislation was passed.

I have two questions for you.

First, why is it not a good thing for you, but it's okay for others—even for the youth of our society—to have access to cannabis as a recreational drug? I commend you for your personal position.

Second, I'm looking at the legislation your government has presented so far in the last year and a half, which you say you're very proud of. Bill C-14, the medical assistance in dying legislation, now allows Canadians to legally have their lives terminated with the assistance of a physician. Bill C-16 addresses what I think is an imaginary gap in both our Canadian Human Rights Act and our Criminal Code. Bill C-32 repeals section 159 of the Criminal Code, which addresses anal sex. Bill C-37, which repeals the Respect for Communities Act, will now make it easier for safe injection sites to be located in different communities across Canada. The most recent one, Bill C-45, is of course on the legalization of marijuana.

My question on all those issues is, I think, quite simple. These pieces of legislation seem to have a particular theme to them. I'm wondering what it is that motivates your government to, in my opinion, be so bent on and recklessly determined to destroy our social and moral fabric?

May 11th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

A geeky note I think is pretty fantastic. In the words of the Prime Minister, as a country we are strong because of our diversity, and as Minister of Justice I am committed, as is our government, to ensuring that the rights of all Canadians are upheld and propelled. In LGBTQ2 rights it was my great pleasure to build upon the substantive work that advocates of the trans community have been putting forward for years to introduce Bill C-16, which seeks to add gender identity and gender expression as a prohibited ground in the Canadian Human Rights Act, as well as make amendments to the Criminal Code to add gender identity and expression to the identifiable groups and add as an aggravating circumstance in sentencing to ensure that people can be free to be who they are, to express their gender identity and expression in a way they see fit. I'm also very pleased that the Prime Minister has put a substantive focus on LGBTQ2 people, and has appointed a secretariat headed by you, Mr. Boissonnault, to assist in this regard and to ensure that their rights are advanced in a substantive and a concrete way.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2017 / 7:30 p.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise to speak to Bill C-305, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief) as reported back to the House of Commons with amendments.

I want to begin by commending the sponsor of the bill, my colleague, the hon. member for Nepean. I also want to take a moment to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for their dedicated work. I also want to commend the hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke for all of his passionate advocacy over the years for the LGBTQQ community, and in particular for the transgender community, without which I do not believe we would be at this historical moment.

Allow me first to set the bill in the context of recent past events. As has been mentioned recently in the House, in January of this year, six people were murdered in a Quebec City mosque, an event that shocked and appalled the nation. In Ottawa there has been a troubling spike in the incidents of hate graffiti on synagogues over the past several months. Such incidents should cause us as legislators to consider how we wish to confront and prevent the commission of hate crimes in our society.

Bill C-305 is an important response to strengthen the ability of the criminal law to adequately denounce and deter hate crimes. It proposes to expand the scope of the current hate-motivated mischief offence now found in subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code. That provision, entitled “Mischief relating to religious property”, currently prohibits mischief committed against buildings or structures primarily used for a religious purpose, such as a church, mosque, synagogue, or cemetery. The offence must be committed out of hatred, prejudice, or bias based on religion, race, colour, or national or ethnic origin.

The current provision carries a maximum punishment of 10 years of imprisonment when prosecuted by indictment and a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail when prosecuted by way of a summary conviction.

The Criminal Code presently has a sentencing provision to address hate crimes. Subparagraph 718.2(a)(i) of the code requires a judge to take into consideration as an aggravating factor for any crime whether the crime was motivated by bias, prejudice, or hatred. This is based on a non-exhaustive list of criteria, including religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, mental or physical disability, sex, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.

Some may argue that given these existing provisions, there is no need to expand the offence of hate-motivated mischief any further, since what is not caught by current subsection 430(4.1) would be addressed at the sentencing stage when the judge must take into consideration whether the offence was motivated by hatred. However, I believe this is an overly narrow interpretation of the law as it stands, and we have an opportunity as legislators to address this.

I acknowledge that judges may rely on the existing sentencing provisions to account for hateful motivation, but I believe that by expanding the actual offence of hate-motivated mischief, we have an opportunity to send a strong message of condemnation to those who would commit such crimes.

Denunciation of this type of offence is not merely symbolic. Hate-motivated mischief carries a heavier maximum penalty on summary conviction than the general offence. In addition, by showing leadership on this troubling issue, we stand to raise public awareness in a real and impactful way.

As a result, while some may perceive a redundancy, others will recognize the benefit of providing a broader range of tools to our police, prosecutors, and other criminal justice professionals and, I would add, justice for victims of this particular type of crime.

I will now address the specific changes proposed in Bill C-305 as well as the amendments passed by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

As I noted earlier, the existing offence under subsection 430(4.1) of the code applies only to mischief committed against religious property. While this is one category of property that deserves special recognition, I believe that a broader diversity of Canadians stand to benefit from an expanded application of this section.

Bill C-305 addresses this issue head-on by amending the current hate-motivated mischief offence in two ways. First, the bill proposes to include new buildings or parts of buildings primarily used as educational institutions, including a school, day care centre, or college or university; used for administrative, social, cultural, or sports events or activities, including a town hall, community centre, playground, or arena; or used as a seniors residence.

Upon passage of this bill, therefore, vandalism committed against a Jewish or Muslim community centre would be caught by the expanded hate crime mischief offence and not just vandalism committed against a synagogue or a mosque.

I should note that a major concern for our government was expressed during the debate at second reading. The concern was that the definition of property that it proposed to add to the current offence was overly broad. The list of new properties caught by the bill appeared to be much broader than we believe was intended. For instance, the bill would have likely covered privately owned sports stadiums, as well as any buildings used for social purposes. In other words, it would have covered buildings that have no real connection to groups that are historically targeted by hate-based mischief. As a result, the government felt this aspect of the bill reached too far.

I am pleased to say that this issue was addressed by the standing committee during its study of the bill. Specifically, amendments passed by the committee require a building or space to be “primarily used” by one of the groups protected by the bill. This helps maintain a rational connection between the hateful motivation and the building that is subject to the mischief.

The amendment will help to ensure that subsection 430(4.1) does not accidentally capture instances of mischief committed against property that is not actually connected with one of the protected groups.

The bill proposes to expand the list of “identifiable groups” that are covered by the mischief provision of the Criminal Code to make it more consistent with the groups set out in the section on hate propaganda offences.

The definition of “identifiable groups” for hate propaganda offences covers not only groups that are identifiable by colour, race, religion, and national or ethnic origin—the motivations currently set out for hate-based mischief—but also those identifiable by age, sex, sexual orientation, and mental or physical disability.

Bill C-305 seeks to eliminate that inconsistency by establishing a list of motivations for hate-based mischief that is similar to that set out in the definition of “identifiable groups” under the hate propaganda section of the Criminal Code. In other words, the motivations of age, sex, sexual orientation, and mental and physical disability would be added as motivations for hate-based mischief as soon as the bill is passed.

It is important to note that Bill C-305 proposes adding another item to the list of motivations for hate-based mischief that depends on the passage of Bill C-16 by both the House and the other place.

My colleagues may recall that Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, proposes adding gender identity and gender expression to the definition of “identifiable groups” for hate propaganda offences.

My colleagues will also recall that, although Bill C-305, as introduced at first reading, proposed adding gender identity to the list of motivations for hate-based mischief, gender identity was not addressed in the bill. The sponsor of the bill recognized that this was an oversight. The amendments proposed by the standing committee corrected that omission.

As a result, once Bill C-16 comes into force, an act of mischief committed against property primarily used by a group identifiable on the basis of its gender identity where the mischief was motivated by hatred based on gender identity would be caught by this expanded offence.

To summarize, Bill C-305 would expand the current hate crime of mischief to clearly denounce additional types of mischief motivated by hatred against certain historically marginalized groups. It would therefore provide additional tools to our criminal justice system to protect Canadians from hate-motivated crime.

I would once again like to thank the sponsor for his outstanding advocacy on this issue, as well as the standing committee for its excellent work on Bill C-305. I sincerely hope that the hon. members of this House continue to support Bill C-305 in order to more fully protect the diversity of communities in our Canadian society.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2017 / 7:20 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again to speak in favour of Bill C-305. I would like to echo that thanks to the member for Nepean for bringing this forward.

In the current climate in North America and around the world, where there has been a promotion of hatred against all kinds of groups, a promotion of hatred that has often led to violence, this is a very important expansion of protections in Canada. I do not normally support amending the Criminal Code piece by piece, but the urgency of the situation we are in right now means that we should do this as quickly as we can, so I am very pleased to see this moving forward.

As people know, there are only two very basic things here. The bill says that places that are included in the law against hate-motivated damage should be expanded to include things we would all agree on. Very few Canadians would say we should not protect day cares, schools, and universities. Why would we not protect all those groups that are listed as protected groups under the hate crimes legislation? I think, in many ways, it was an oversight, over time, that this mischief provision was not updated as other laws changed.

Of particular concern to me, as an advocate for the inclusion of transgender rights, is that the original version of the bill actually was not consistent with Bill C-16, so I am very pleased to see that it has come back with a coordinating amendment. I am confident that Bill C-16 will pass through the Senate, even though it has taken an inordinate amount of time for that to happen. The legislation to add gender identity and gender expression to the human rights code and the hate crimes section of the Criminal Code first passed this House in 2011. Here we are, six years later, still waiting for the Senate to add those important protections. Therefore, I am very pleased to see that the bill has that coordinating amendment.

When the bill finally moves in the Senate, and my understanding is that hearings are going to commence tomorrow at the Senate committee, we will look forward to this coming back, I hope, before the House rises and therefore in time for what is known colloquially as the Pride season. It will give some additional thing to celebrate at that time.

I hope this bill will also be expedited in the Senate, if we can get it there, and that it will deal with this one quickly as well.

There are some people, mostly younger than me, who would be surprised to know that the original version of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms did not include protection for sexual orientation, let alone gender identity and gender expression. As I have said before, I was not a supporter of the charter at that time, because there was a debate about the inclusion of my own rights in that charter. A decision was made by Parliament at that time, unfortunately, to exclude sexual orientation. At that time, there was not even a debate about gender identity and gender expression. We have come a long way, and I am here today to salute that progress and to salute the committee for making sure that this progress is reflected in this bill.

It is an unfortunate fact in Canada that hate crimes that result in violence are most often directed at first nations people and transgender people. These are the two groups with the very highest rates of hate-motivated violence, so the bill would be of assistance in helping protect the community places where we would expect to find first nations people and transgender people in a safe place. It would help enhance that safety, which is so important.

I wish it were not true, but I know from the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, which is in my riding, that hate crimes, hate-motivated violence, and even hate graffiti often appear at their community centre. That is a great surprise to me. I do not think of my riding as one where hatred is that strong and where people are that disrespectful of other members of the community, especially the Native Friendship Centre, which is a centre where people who are trying to better their lives go. It focuses on adult education and employment programs. It is a very positive place in all those ways, so it is particularly upsetting when I see those attacks on a place like that.

While we originally started with churches that often do that positive work in our community, it is very appropriate that we expand it to these other places that often make such a positive contribution in all of our communities.

I thought a bit about what I was going to say tonight, and I was not going to go to the obvious place when we talk about the promotion of hatred, which is south of the border. I have to say, however, that in this connection there is an unfortunate spillover into this country. People talk to me about their fears and concerns. They talk to me about things which are not problems in the community which I represent. There are things that they see and hear coming from the United States, and this often has motivated people to be fearful, for instance, currently of refugees.

I had the privilege of meeting earlier today with a coalition of groups that support gay and lesbian transgender refugees from around the world. We talked about the group that has crossed irregularly into Canada. Anecdotal evidence tells us that around 40% of those who have crossed irregularly between the borders are from the LGBT community. Why are they doing that? The Conservative Party has taken a strong stance against the illegality of those crossings, but I argue strongly, as many others do, that under international law those are not illegal crossings. These people are fleeing violence and hatred in the United States. Talking to them about their experiences, especially those who are people of colour, they tell us they have become fearful of living there, and they see Canada as a place where they can find safe refuge.

This legislation illustrates the best of what is Canadian, and why people are attracted to come to this country. They want to find a safe haven. They want to be able to integrate into Canadian society, and make a contribution which will allow them to support themselves and their families. I was pleased to sit down at this meeting today and talk about those kinds of successes.

The Liberals quite rightly raised the goal of having 25,000 Syrians come to this country. In my riding, what was most impressive was how people with no particular connection to Syria stepped forward. They were not Muslims necessarily, and they were not from the Middle East. They did not have any particular reason to step forward, but as Canadians they felt that they should do their part. Many were from families that had immigrated to Canada, some of them from refugee families in previous generations, Hungarians and other people who had fled their homeland. It was so encouraging to see those people step forward and sponsor refugees. When the deadline elapsed saying they were no longer sponsors, there were no examples in my community where those ties that had been built under that refugee sponsorship program were broken.

There is some disappointment among those sponsors and with those in the community who see refugees as threats, and as bringing terrorism into the country. These refugees are fleeing terrorism and extremism, and they have come to Canada because, as the bill says, we are a tolerant country. Canada is a country which will not tolerate hatred and violence focused on religious, racial, sexual orientation, or gender identity grounds.

This is one of those cases where Canada has made progress, but we are not done. We have more to do. If the impact of this legislation is to expand those safe spaces for doing that positive work in our communities, then it has done a great thing. Without the member for Nepean bringing this legislation forward, we would have missed an opportunity to build a better and more inclusive Canada.

I look forward to this legislation making its way to a final vote here in the House and going to the Senate. I was asked, in relation to Bill C-16, to explain to a reporter how things get through the Senate. I said that, unfortunately, I cannot do that, and I am not sure there is anyone who can do that right now because there is a bit of chaos in the Senate over rules and how things proceed.

However, I am going to launch that plea again tonight, that when this legislation gets to the Senate that it be treated in a fashion that expedites its passage, so that we can have this in place as soon as possible, and give yet another symbol of what an inclusive country this is, and how we will stand up for people's rights and make them safe everywhere in our communities.

April 13th, 2017 / 8:45 a.m.
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Katerina Frost Government Affairs Coordinator, Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity

Good morning. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you, members of the committee, for inviting us to appear today. My name is Katerina. I'm here with Jeremy Dias representing the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity.

As we reviewed this bill, we noted the following points, which we respectfully request the committee to consider. First, we hope that in your deliberations as members of the committee you will consider the status not only of cisgender women and men but also transgender, intersex, genderqueer, gender-fluid, and gender non-conforming individuals. For example, a sobering statistic is that of transgender individuals surveyed for the 2014 Trans PULSE survey; 20% have been assaulted physically or sexually for being trans.

The committee's discussion of this bill has already included the issue of intersectionality in gender-based violence and social context in judicial training. We agree that this is an important factor. Similarly, we hope that the committee will consider the status of those with diverse sexual orientations. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals report experiencing higher rates of sexual violence than heterosexual individuals.

Furthermore, we request the committee consider the impact that sexual assault proceedings may have on individuals of diverse gender identity and expression or sexual orientation. If members of the judiciary do not receive training covering that information, we feel that unintentional heteronormative, homophobic, or transphobic statements or actions toward the victim will mean that further stigma or indignity is attached to them unnecessarily. We also hope that you'll consider the ways in which training education could be sensitive to these issues in what is already obviously a traumatic experience for the victim.

We further hope that the committee will consider the changes proposed by Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. When this legislation passes, as we firmly hope and believe that it will, we feel that problematic interpretations of the law may still occur in sexual assault cases where gender identity or gender expression is a factor. We hope that with regard to judicial education and sexual assault law training, the committee will consider that changes be reflected on an ongoing basis. In the event that it does not become law, we hope that this content would still be included regardless, just because the people who are the reason for C-16 are not going anywhere, and if anything, they'll be fighting harder for equality in all ways and at all levels.

We hope that, with regard to the design and content of the training that judges will receive, the committee will consider the positive impacts of guidance from leading members of the LGBTQ+ community who have experience in supporting victims of sexual assault, as well as those experienced in supporting individuals with intersectional identities, and those from marginalized groups as well.

We feel that this bill is really a human rights issue and that all individuals, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, need to be able to have faith that the judiciary is in tune, up to date, and sensitive to them and their needs. This is about making sure that judges have better training. We hope that comprehensive education will mean exactly that, and will fully encompass the issues and challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

Thank you.

March 9th, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Chair, as you know, I'm not a supporter of Bill C-16, but as it's in the Senate, and if it finds its way successfully through the Senate and receives royal assent and becomes law, this just makes sense.

March 9th, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Chair, we had a discussion about where we should have the expression of gender diversity and it was important to make sure that we have “gender identity” and “expression” in the final law, and the coordinating amendment makes sense if we assume that the Senate will pass this. We don't know. It's an independent body. I would encourage my honourable colleagues across the way, as elected officials, to work with the counterparts of their party in the Senate to make sure that this human rights legislation passes in the Senate. We are doing our work with both independents and Liberals and so if we can get Bill C-16 across the goal line in the Senate, then this coordinating amendment would put the new legislation in line with Bill C-16, and that is the spirit of this clause.