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.

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.

March 9th, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Glenn Gilmour

That's essentially what would happen. The principle behind both this amendment and the coordinating amendment is that, at all times, there would be consistency with the definition of “identifiable group” as it exists in the Criminal Code, either as it currently is right now or as it may be amended by Bill C-16. Once, and if, Bill C-16 were passed, that would happen.

March 9th, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

I'll ask Mr. Gilmour. LIB-1 puts in all the criteria that are currently in section 318. The coordinating amendment would say that when Bill C-16 is adopted and this bill is adopted, then gender identity and gender expression will fall into this clause, in the way that Bill C-16 will already put them in section 318—and that's basically it. Until both bills are adopted, if this bill were somehow adopted first, gender identity and gender expression would not be there until Bill C-16 is adopted and receives royal assent. I don't know if Mr. Gilmour has anything to add on that.

March 9th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Yes. It will be amendment NDP-3.

It's a pretty straightforward amendment. As you can see, it seeks to replace, in clause 1, line 11 on page 1 with the following:

or ethnic origin, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.

I just refer to my party's main critic, Randall Garrison, when he gave his second reading speech in the House. His main point was to make sure that we add that important “gender expression” here to make the wording consistent with that of Bill C-16. We feel that adding “gender expression” does that to this bill.

That's what I have to say about it, Mr. Chair.

March 9th, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Can I just point out a couple of things, Mr. MacGregor? Then I want to ask Mr. Cooper a question, or whoever on the Conservative side.

Number one, in addition to what Mr. Fraser mentioned about aggravating factors, it could still be a hate crime if the police were able to set it out. The only difference between this section and other sections on hate crimes is that the maximum sentence is 18 months instead of six months on a summary conviction. Truthfully, this section is not the arbiter of hate crimes.

My question for Mr. Cooper is a little different.

In the event that the wording, “identifiable group”, is adopted, none of the other amendments can be adopted, so I want to make it clear to everyone what I see as the difference between this list of identifiable groups versus those in subsection 318(4), which is referred to in the other amendments.

Here, what is missing is “sex”, “age”, “mental or physical disability”, which is found in other amendments and in other sections of the Criminal Code. Now, “gender identity” is here, but not “gender expression”. “Gender identity” would not come into effect in other sections of the Criminal Code until Bill C-16 is adopted.

I'm just pointing out that I see some inconsistencies that you may want to consider, if indeed the committee wants to proceed to adopt this.

March 9th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Karina Gould LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It's a pleasure to be back just a little over a month from the last time I was here. It's good to see all of you. I'm looking forward to this conversation as well.

Thank you for inviting me to speak to the committee again. I'm pleased to have this opportunity to appear before you today, and I'm happy to contribute to your proceedings to the best of my ability.

Yesterday, we celebrated International Women's Day. I was very proud to have been invited to speak on March 7 at the Daughters of the Vote gala. The Equal Voice organization held the event to highlight the significance of the day. The Daughters of the Vote initiative brought young women aged 18 to 23 to Parliament. They came from each of our 338 federal electoral districts to represent their community and share their vision for Canada. Yesterday, these young women had the opportunity to meet with their MP and sit at their MP's place in the House of Commons.

It was inspiring to see the House full of young women and to look into what the future holds. All of us who have the privilege to serve also have the duty to support and encourage young Canadians to engage in our democracy. In particular, this committee has the unique opportunity to reflect on how to ensure that all Canadians are best prepared and able to participate in civic life. Your study of the CEO report and its recommendations positions you as stewards and champions of the franchise. The Daughters of the Vote who are in Ottawa today, and all Canadians, are counting on your reflections.

This is why I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, specifically, for your work so far on the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations report. I read with interest your interim report, which was tabled on Monday. I am going to spend more time reviewing it and reflecting on your recommendations as the government considers its response.

I am very happy to see that you have reached a consensus on the key recommendations that are the core of the Chief Electoral Officer's proposed voting services modernization efforts. In addition, you have collectively supported a range of other recommendations, including recommendations to improve the delivery of voting services to non-resident Canadians and enhanced information-sharing authorities to improve the quality of the national register of electors, the latter being something that may come before you for consideration as part of Bill C-33. These are important recommendations that will improve our electoral process.

There was also consensus on many of the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations related to ensuring an accessible electoral system for electors and candidates with disabilities. Enhancing inclusion as a defining value of our democracy stands high among my priorities for the coming months and years.

I look forward to your upcoming work on the recommendations set out in the Chief Electoral Officer's report.

I'll highlight a few, I hope to hear your thoughts on the issue of the length of the election period and on the polling day, recommendations A21 and A22. These recommendations have implications for the political financing regime and the participation of Canadians in the voting process.

Recommendation A25 would address the question of partisan nominees for poll staff and promises improvements in Elections Canada's recruitment processes. In light of your support for recommendation A1, your view on this recommendation would be informative.

Recommendations A33 and A34 would provide additional tools for the Commissioner of Canada Elections. My mandate letter includes a commitment to enhance Canadians' trust in the integrity of our system, and I would value your thoughts on these recommendations.

Recommendation A39 concerns adjustments to the broadcasting arbitration regime. The way that political parties communicate with Canadians and the nature of media have changed considerably over time. These provisions have hardly been modified in recent years.

Recommendation B9 has a significant impact on gender non-conforming electors. In relation to Bill C-16, I think it warrants consideration, since equality could be ensured in all aspects of the federal government.

Recommendation B15 would affect the process in place to help electors with a disability.

Recommendations B12, B24, B18, B26, B27, and B43 are all related in different ways to the integrity of the process and Canadians' trust in that process. As trust is paramount to the success of any election and the peaceful transfer of power, I would welcome the committee's thoughtful input on these as well.

Finally, recommendation B44 raises the important issue of how we adapt to a fixed-date context for elections in a Westminster system. I would ask the committee, if you think it of merit, to reflect on how this and other recommendations are impacted, and what the challenges and opportunities are in relation to fixed-date elections in the Canadian experience.

All of these recommendations raise a variety of questions that would benefit from the expertise of this committee. They seek ways to keep our electoral laws up to date with the expectations of electors and political actors. Your considerate review of these matters is valuable.

As I noted during my last appearance, my mandate letter includes a commitment to enhance the transparency of fundraising activities. In meeting this commitment, I intend to introduce legislation that makes fundraising events public, and to require additional disclosure of who attends, and when.

We have heard Canadians' concerns in this regard, and we intend to act. I hope to introduce legislation this spring, and if referred to your committee by the House, I would very much appreciate your consideration of the bill and any recommendations you may have.

Of course, there's also Bill C-33. Your work so far on the recommendations report will well position you in considering this bill and its measures to reduce barriers to voting while enhancing the integrity of the electoral process. Bill C-33, I believe, complements the work that you are undertaking with the CEO recommendations.

The road to the 2019 election is getting ever shorter. I am committed, as I know all members of this committee are, to improving our electoral system before the next election to the benefit of all Canadians. To accomplish this goal, Canadians need us to work together. I hope to continue to receive your valuable input to inform the direction of improving our electoral process to make it accessible, efficient, and equitable for voters.

Elections Canada needs sufficient time to implement any changes made to the Canada Elections Act before the next election and would like to be election-ready well in advance of an expected writ. The more time Elections Canada has to prepare, the better.

We must also take into consideration that other legislative changes may be necessary to implement your recommendations.

The development and preparation of this bill, and the important discussions and debates in the House of Commons and Senate, shouldn't be rushed.

To give Elections Canada the time it needs, as well as to give parliamentarians the time they need, my hope would be to introduce legislation before the end of this year that would build on your hard work with respect to the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations. It is our responsibility to take the time to get this right. It is also our responsibility to get it done. It's what Canadians expect. If the House could have your next report before the House rises for the summer, preferably by May 19, I think we would be well positioned to advance some significant reforms that would improve the electoral process for Canadians.

I am sharing my thinking with the committee because I sincerely want to work together with you. I respect this committee's independence and know the committee will set its own agenda. I hope my remarks today help provide insight to you about my thinking and perspective on the matters before this committee.

Thank you again for inviting me here today. I look forward to working with you on these important issues.

Thank you.

March 9th, 2017 / 9:50 a.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm thankful that this motion has come forth. I think it's important to have “sexual orientation” as part of this bill. It's just like my motion previous to this, although it maybe didn't highlight something as much. It does have “gender” here, so I congratulate the.... It's not a negative thing to add.

That's part of the overall thing, so this highlighting it a little bit differently is more consistent with practices. As I said, my motion was based upon Liberal legislation that was passed in the House of Commons. We've seen lots of Liberal legislation pass that didn't necessarily often reflect the entire, full House. It could have been a compromise. I think this is important, because again, it brings up the whole issue....

I'm speaking to just the subamendment, not to the main motion. With regard to the subamendment, we've seen incredible advances in society on gender acceptance and inclusion. I could point no further than my daughter's high school, where this is actually an asset in terms of celebration and openness. It also has dealt with, many times over, issues related to bullying and other things that have taken place. This is one of those things where there's been a greater acceptance in society. A lot of Canadians have come together to move this.

In the past, I saw this first-hand. I used to play in the Cabbagetown softball leagues. That was a program where I was one of two straight players who could actually play on the baseball team. You had to try out to make the team. I actually did, despite my not being the quickest player. At any rate, it was one of the best things I ever did in my life. That was during a difficult time, in the early nineties, when you had a number of people who would speak back.

In fact, with a previous employer of mine—this wasn't in the Windsor area—at one point an intervention took place on me because I was hanging out with somebody who happened to be openly gay at that time. People literally had me go to the boardroom, during business time, to tell me to stop hanging out with my friend because he was gay. That took place in the workforce in the early nineties, when I was this new employee.

I think this is very appropriate to be stated in this legislation, because we have no tolerance for that anymore. Things have changed, but that type of activity is happening still to some degree. It's not equal just yet. I would appeal to the Liberals to support this amendment I put forth, because we have to vote on the main motion eventually. I think this would be appropriate for the main motion to have. It would be very inclusive. I would be ashamed to vote on the main motion without this, and I appreciate the friendly stature of this amendment.

I'll leave it at that. I think it's self-explanatory, in many ways. For this particular motion right here, I think it's quite obvious that this should be unanimous, I would hope, in this Parliament. It would be a statement for us actually not to include that in considering the motion, in that we would be isolating that and saying it's not appropriate.

Again, it's consistent with the human rights code and consistent with the Liberal language that was placed in Bill C-16, which is in front of the Senate and which passed the House of Commons with a Liberal majority voting for their own bill. In fact, I don't think there was any dissension at that particular time. I would hope that this would be included for the debate that later takes place on the main motion. It would be odd to “gender divide”, I guess, at this particular point in time, something that's a regular stream for what we do. This would be a major step back, I think, in the cause.

I will leave it at that, Mr. Chair. Hopefully we will have this to consider for the main motion.

March 9th, 2017 / 9:30 a.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have some questions for Mr. Schaan about this, but I just want to preface that by saying that if some feel it's inconvenient to sit through the questions and comments that I make on this, I'm fine with that. I know that a lot of people have been waiting a lifetime for inclusion, equity, and fairness. I would think basic respect is the very least they would get, to have these questions that have been posed to me from other people, and comments I've received from testimony not only here, that we heard, but also elsewhere.

The reason I came here today with the suggestion to the government, which I thought was realistic, on Bill C-16, being an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act. Even one committee member, during debate, said, “It is now 2016, and it is time that we modernize our laws to truly reflect our society and our diversity.” That was a Liberal member from this committee. I came here to try to achieve that balance with a specific piece that could bridge the gap on what seems to be taking place here.

Mr. Schaan, I want to be clear, though. I think that people need to understand this. If this is not included in the regulations—the regulations will decide these things—is it possible then to have a regulation that does not include, for example, race, in terms of disclosure? If they go through with their.... For regulations, it will include whatever they want it to be. Is it mandated? Does it have to include, for example, race or ethnic origin?

March 9th, 2017 / 9:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

My question is for Mr. Schaan on the wording that has been presented by the NDP in the subamendment. Are the terms expressed there in line with the Employment Equity Act? Do we have a dovetailing of that?

I know that we're speaking about what was presented in Bill C-16, but I'm just curious as to whether or not that is enhanced by or related to the same terminology we have for the Employment Equity Act.

March 9th, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will have copies distributed in both English and French. It's very much a modest change to what's been proposed by the Green Party in some respects, but once again it uses language that was specifically passed under Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. It says that Bill C-25, in clause 24, be amended by replacing lines 5 to 7 on page 9 with the following:

information respecting gender representation and diversity—including in regard to colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability— among the directors and among members of senior management as defined by regulation as well as any prescribed information respecting diversity.

Let's be clear on this motion. This was passed in the House of Commons as part of amending the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, and it still includes the regulations that will have the oversight of this.

This gives a good window, not only so Parliament can have something on the record for this but also for the regulatory oversight part of this so it is still fluid within that jurisdiction.

The big difference on this is that it makes it consistent with previous legislation passed through this particular House of Commons so we will not be inconsistent with what we have previously done. Following this path is obviously important for consistency, not just for this country, related to race and ethnic divisions and representation as well as regarding the gender issues we've raised in the past. In fact, if you didn't catch it, Mr. Bains had a good statement on promoting diversity and inclusion on International Women's Day. He said that Canada benefits when more women reach the highest levels of achievement. He said, regarding diversity and openness on International Women's Day, that Canada needs more women to reach the highest levels of achievement because an open society that values a diversity of ideas and perspectives is good for business, and that it is also good for innovation, which is Canada's path to economic growth.

I thought that was put well. This will help reinforce that for all members of Parliament.

Again, it would be odd for us to have a leading piece of legislation regarding the description of diversity and gender and then for us to divert away from that legislation, especially given that it's in the Canadian human rights code. I think it would be very alarming for us to divert from what the House of Commons has already passed as a definition. Again, for those who are concerned about any changes, there is the regulatory aspect part of it.

I'll leave it at that for now. Hopefully, we can dispense of this and move forward with a good vote and have this completed, because, again, it provides an open door for both. It's a win-win for everybody. It's also consistent with the government agenda. Again, I think it would be really odd for us as a committee to basically say the human rights code and the Canadian Human Rights Act are inconsistent with our legislation here. It would be quite telling for us to push back against Senate legislation that we have already passed in the House of Commons.

Thank you.

March 9th, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

It specifically says that information respecting gender representation and diversity including in regard to “colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability” was passed as a definition in an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code. I think this is also based upon the Ontario human rights code, when they looked at that.

It was actually passed, and you voted in favour of it, Mr. Lametti, and right now it is in the Senate at second reading.

This was passed in the House of Commons, the specific definition that the bill had. I'll be moving that later, whether or not we deal with Ms. May's motion, which is very good as well but doesn't have the specifics related to legislation already passed through the House of Commons and just awaiting final approval by the Senate in this current Parliament.

I have copies, and at the appropriate time I can present them to members.

Thank you very much.