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



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


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.


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.


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

February 21st, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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General Counsel and Senior Political Advisor, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

Richard Marceau

No. I actually like Michael's idea. It's one that I would seriously consider.

Otherwise, I am fine with the bill as is, with the caveat as I mentioned earlier: the LGBTQ buildings or community centres. Should they be in the same subsection with a subtitle of religious property, or should they be in another subsection? It's of no consequence to us. We believe that, as a community at risk, it should be protected.

I would mention one other thing. If we assume that Bill C-16 will be passed by the Senate this session, we should make sure that the wording of Bill C-305—which was passed by the House and is now being considered by the other place—is consistent with Bill C-16.

February 21st, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Richard Marceau General Counsel and Senior Political Advisor, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to thank the committee members for inviting me. I'd also like to thank Chandra Arya, the member who brought forward Bill C-305, as well as all the members who supported it at second reading.

This legislation has been on the Jewish community's agenda for quite some time. Understandably, then, I would like to set the backdrop for Bill C-305. Though in no way do I want to take any credit away from Mr. Arya for sponsoring the bill. Quite the contrary.

Back when I was in your shoes and serving as my party's justice critic, the Jewish community approached me to have protective safeguards already available to houses and places of worship and cemeteries extended to community centres and schools belonging to the community.

They convinced me, so I put together a bill, which I was about to introduce when the 2006 election was called. I was defeated in the election, but Carole Freeman, a Bloc Québécois MP took up the charge and introduced the bill. After passing at second reading, Bill C-384 was referred to this committee. The 2008 election was then called, and Ms. Freeman lost her seat as well.

Between 2008 and 2011, a Liberal MP by the name of Marlene Jennings brought the bill back, this time as Bill C-451. It garnered widespread support from all parties, but Marlene, too, lost her seat in 2011.

During the 41st Parliament, Marc Garneau, now Minister of Transport, reincarnated the bill as Bill C-510, but it was too low on the priority list to ever see the light of day.

It's been 10 years since the bill first came about, and we are here today to study it. Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The objective of the bill is fairly straightforward. It is to extend the protection already given to houses of worship and cemeteries to other buildings and structures used by communities at risk.

Our community, the Jewish community, has often been the target of vandalism. As Michael mentioned, Jewish Canadians are victimized by hate-motivated crime at a higher rate than any other identifiable group. StatsCan data shows that roughly three-quarters of these crimes fall under the legal category of mischief—broadly speaking the vandalism or destruction of property.

Vandalism of community centres and schools involves more than attacks on buildings. It reverberates throughout a community and throughout a city. It touches every member of a community, whether that person goes frequently to that place or not. That is why it must be seriously punished.

The bill extends the protection by defining the word “property” for the purposes of subsection 4.1 as being:

a building or structure, or part of a building or structure, that is primarily used for religious worship...

that is primarily used as an educational institution...

that is primarily used for administrative, social, cultural or sports activities or events—including a town hall, community centre, playground or arena—, or...

that is primarily used as a residence for seniors

I understand there are concerns about the bill's being too broad, more specifically about the groups afforded protection in subsection 4.1 and about which buildings would be covered. Let me tackle one at a time.

The fact is, the subsection is about mischief relating to religious property. I have heard concerns that extending it to cover buildings associated, for example, with the LGBTQ+ community would denature the subsection. We at CIJA have no problem extending protections to LGBTQ+ community buildings. Our longstanding advocacy in this area, including our deep involvement in support of C-16—previously C-279—brought forward by Mr. Randall Garrison, speaks for itself.

I don't think the principle of inclusion with regard to the LGBTQ+ community is at issue. The question may be whether these protections should be included in the same subsection, thus changing its nature, or whether they should be extended to LGBTQ+ community buildings in a different subsection. To the Jewish community, the how/which subsection matters less than the what, namely that these institutions be covered and better protected.

As for the issue of the bill's being too broad regarding which buildings would fall under this subsection, I disagree. What about, for example, a synagogue, a mosque, or a temple that rents space in a mall? Shouldn't those be protected? How about the social services agency of a community that rents space in an office building? Today the Jewish social services agencies from across Canada are on the Hill, meeting MPs and ministers to discuss the issues around disability. They would tell you, and rightly so, that they would like and need their offices to be covered.

At a time when Sayyed al-Ghitaoui, an imam at Montreal's Al Andalous Islamic Center, who called for the destruction of the cursed Jews, imploring Allah to kill them one by one, and to make their children orphans and their women widows, has the support of his mosque; at a time when Igor Sadikov, a member of McGill University's student society sent out a tweet that read, “punch a [Z]ionist today”; at a time when—and this happened on February 6, 2017—someone hacked the attendance sheet of a children's swim team in Côte Saint-Luc, hosted by Google Docs, and filled it with murderous threats against the Jewish community, as well as several references to Hezbollah, a Lebanese terrorist organization, banned in Canada, that seeks the destruction of Israel;

At a time when six Muslim worshippers were so brutally gunned down while engaged in prayer, when a wave of hate vandalism hit many religious and community institutions in Ottawa, including the community centre where my sons work and the synagogue I am a member of, it is time to send a strong signal that anti-Jewish, anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, anti-Sikh bigotry, and all other forms of hatred have no place in Canada, that schools and community centres are as central to minorities' lives as houses of worship or cemeteries, and that mischief against those buildings should be seriously punished.

I encourage all members of Parliament to continue to support Bill C-305 and to pass it without delay.

Thank you very much.

February 16th, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Mr. Arya, for coming to committee today and for the work you've put into this piece.

I have a question, and I'm going to build on what Mr. MacGregor and Mr. Fraser talked about, and that's in regard to proposed subsection 4.1 of your private member's bill.

They've talked about coordinating amendments. If Bill C-16 ever became law.... That isn't a law, but we do have a document today that is law, and that's the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Subsections 15(1) and 15(2) make specific reference to categories that cannot be discriminated against.

Why would your bill not include this similar language or the exact language that is used in the charter?

February 16th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for being here, Mr. Arya, and for your good work on this bill and for your clear and articulate presentation today.

I'd like to ask questions that have been touched on by a couple of questioners, with regard to adding gender expression and language that is consistent with Bill C-16, currently before the Senate. I know that when we considered another piece of legislation, we added a coordinating amendment so that, if that bill becomes law, we'd be using the same sort of language. Would you be open to that sort of coordinating amendment depending on which bill, if either one or both become law? Would you be open to having that added as an amendment?

February 16th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

I think your bill has laudable goals, but my concern overall is that we seem to be fixing individual trees and losing sight of the forest.

If you look at Bill C-16 and the Criminal Code, you will see that there are also provisions there for prohibiting discrimination based on sex. Your bill also forgets to include that particular part. Is that something that you were made aware of, or is that another oversight?

Human RightsOral Questions

February 16th, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.


Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, again, I would like to thank the hon. member across the way for his tireless efforts in terms of getting us to this place where I was proud, based on his work and the work of many before him, to introduce Bill C-16. I am following this piece of legislation. I think it is incumbent upon all parliamentarians to do what they can to ensure its expedited passage so we can ensure that individuals, all Canadians in this country, are free to be themselves. It is imperative that we move this bill forward.

Human RightsOral Questions

February 16th, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, almost a year ago, I stood with the government and celebrated the introduction of Bill C-16, which would extend the same rights and protections enjoyed by other Canadians to those in the trans community. Now this government bill stands stalled in the Senate. It has been over six years since this legislation was first passed in this House, but still transgender Canadians are told to wait even longer, to go on waiting for their rights.

What are the Liberals doing to get Bill C-16 passed into law? Has the minister communicated the urgency of this bill to senators, or will they let trans rights die in the Senate for a third time?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario


Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to join in the second reading debate of Bill C-305, an act to amend the Criminal Code concerning mischief, which was introduced in the House on September 27 by the member for Nepean.

I would like to begin by thanking the member for Nepean for bringing this important issue before the chamber to give this Parliament an opportunity to speak to it.

I also want to thank and commend the member for Victoria and the member for Mégantic—L'Érable for their remarks, which were very timely and appropriate as well.

We have been tragically reminded of the impact that hate in all of its manifestations can have on our society. The horrific attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec on Sunday night, the hate-inspired acts of terror which occurred that evening taking six of our fellow citizens' lives, injuring so many, and tragically traumatizing a community and a nation must deepen our resolve to confront and prevent hate in all of its manifestations.

In my experience, the issue of hate does not immediately manifest itself in acts of terror and murder, but far more often is expressed in acts of mischief. Our failure as a society to confront and deal appropriately with these acts, to denounce them in our strongest forms, and to resolve them through appropriate serious consequence can have the effect of encouraging them through complacency. We are reminded of the importance of dealing with this issue.

As parliamentarians I believe we could all agree that hate crimes in all of their forms cannot be tolerated in our country. They are a fundamental attack on our values and our principles and on each and every one of our citizens. A crime of hate against any Canadian citizen is a crime of hate against all Canadian citizens.

Our charter of rights and freedoms guarantees that everyone in Canada has a right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and our government is committed to protecting that right. The amendments proposed by this bill would strengthen the message that hate crime will not be tolerated in Canada.

I would now like to turn briefly to where the current law stands in Canada. Currently, there is a specific hate crime of mischief committed against property primarily used for religious worship which is found in subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code, mischief relating to religious property. It is a hate crime because the offence is only committed when such mischief is committed out of bias, prejudice, or hate based on religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin. The maximum punishment for this offence is 10 years' imprisonment. Subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code was enacted as part of the Anti-terrorism Act of 2001, which was also known at that time as Bill C-36.

Today, hate crime is restricted to property that is primarily used for religious worship, such as churches, mosques, and synagogues, and also includes cemeteries. However, during the committee hearings on Bill C-36, some witnesses, while approving of the creation of a specific hate crime of mischief, argued that the crime should be broader in scope, and if I may, I will cite some examples.

David Matas, lead counsel for B'nai Brith Canada, in his testimony at that time, argued that sex should be added to the list of hate motivations and also that the crime should be expanded to cover schools, organizational buildings, and cemeteries.

As well, on November 6, 2001, before the same committee, Mr. Ed Morgan, who was at that time chair of the Ontario region of the Canadian Jewish Congress, testified that all religious property should be protected by the hate crime mischief offence. He said:

Not just sanctuaries, not just synagogues or churches, but all religious structures, religious centres, religious schools, religious community centres, cemeteries—which are a particular target for hate crimes and desecration—ought to be covered as well.

He also argued at that time, and again I quote from his testimony:

...the grounds of group identification ought to be expanded to include, for example, hate crimes against groups identified by sexual orientation or gender. Gay-bashing is a hate crime, as would be an attack on a women's centre, every bit as much as on a religious community centre.

As a result, subsection 430(4.1) was amended by the House of Commons committee to add cemeteries to the list of properties primarily used for religious worship, but not the other kinds of properties that had been cited in the testimony, such as schools or community centres.

As well, a proposed amendment to add sex as a ground of hate motivation was rejected at that time, because it was seen as not relating logically back to the purpose of the hate crime mischief offence, which was to protect places of religious worship, unlike other hate motivations of race, colour, religion, or ethnic or national origin.

Bill C-305 proposes to add to this mischief offence additional kinds of property. These are buildings or structures used for educational purposes, for administrative, social, cultural, or sports activities or events, or as residences for seniors. As well, the list of hate-motivating criteria would be expanded by adding two new ones: sexual orientation and gender identity.

I wholeheartedly support the principles behind the bill that our criminal law should clearly denounce all hate-motivated mischief. However, it does bring forward some questions about the potentially broad scope of the proposed crimes in this section, which were previously discussed during the first hour of second reading by my colleague and the member for Charlottetown.

The private member's bill in its current form could potentially capture numerous unintended buildings and spaces such as sports arenas or coffee shops. These buildings or structures are currently protected by the general offence of mischief. Additionally, in order to ensure consistency with the existing hate speech provisions in the Criminal Code as well as those amendments proposed under Bill C-16, gender identity, which is currently before the Senate, we need to look more closely at this proposed legislation.

Therefore, the government will support Bill C-305 with a view to amendments to address the potential overbreadth and consistency with other provisions of the Criminal Code. We believe that Bill C-305 should receive second reading and be sent to committee for further study.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the member for Nepean for his commitment in bringing this matter forward. It is a timely piece of legislation. It is work that demands our closest attention.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in strong support of Bill C-305, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding mischief. I want to thank the member for Nepean for bringing this bill forward.

Bill C-305 would make small but significant changes to the way we handle hate-motivated crimes against communal spaces. There are many things we can do to stand up to discrimination and make our communities safer for all of us. This bill is one good step in that direction, so I hope we can all work together to see it debated, improved, and passed into law.

Canada is thought of, at home and abroad, as an inclusive nation, a place that welcomes all people, regardless of culture, language, or religion, with equality and respect. It is a country where diversity is not just accepted but celebrated. We strive to make Canada a nation free from racial intolerance and xenophobia, but recent events remind us that we still have more work to do.

Here in Ottawa, right here in the nation's capital, we have seen mosques, synagogues, and a Jewish community centre vandalized. We have seen discrimination in communities right across Canada, and in Quebec City this weekend, we saw where hatred can lead.

In Canada, racial and ethnic discrimination motivates about half of all police-reported hate crimes. Another quarter of these crimes are driven by prejudice towards religion, and that number, sadly, is rising. In just the last three years, hate crimes against Muslim Canadians have more than doubled. These statistics should not cause us to despair. They should call us to action.

Bill C-305 would expand the protection we give to communal spaces against vandalism driven by hate and discrimination. As it stands, the crime of mischief in our Criminal Code is punishable by up to two years' imprisonment, but where that mischief is motivated by “bias, prejudice or hate based on religion, race, colour or national or ethnic origin”, it becomes punishable by up to 10 years behind bars. This is only the case, however, when the crime is committed against religious property. It does not apply to other community spaces.

Bill C-305 would extend these legal protections to more communal places, including daycare centres, seniors' homes, schools, town halls, and sports arenas, granting them the same protected status as places of religion.

Let us be clear. This is not just some arcane criminal law question. It is about our values. It is about supporting Canadians' right to live without fear of discrimination and to enjoy spaces free from hateful vandalism. It is about making it clear that hate-fuelled vandalism is a hate crime, regardless of where it is committed.

A second benefit of Bill C-305 is that it would expand the list of discriminatory motives for hate crimes to include “gender identity” and “sexual orientation”.

Ten years ago, New Democrats pioneered legislation calling for the inclusion of gender identity as a prohibited basis for discrimination under federal human rights law. I want to acknowledge the incredible hard work and dedication of my colleague for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, who advanced the cause this far. I want to thank all members from all parties who have joined that cause along the way. Because of the efforts and advocacy of thousands of Canadians, that cause succeeded in passing Bill C-16 recently, which is a milestone in Canada's commitment to inclusion and protection for all.

However, as it stands, the wording of Bill C-305 before us today is inconsistent with Bill C-16 in that it includes gender identity but does not include gender expression. Therefore, for the sake of clarity and consistency, I would propose that both be included and protected by this bill.

We know that one in six hate crimes in Canada is motivated by discrimination toward sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. These are not the most common hate crimes, but they are the most likely to be violent.

I believe an amendment at committee to mirror the language used in Bill C-16 and change “gender identity” to “gender identity or expression” would strengthen the bill and affirm our policy of zero tolerance for transphobic discrimination.

These and other amendments can be considered at committee. However, I want to thank, again, the member for Ottawa West—Nepean for opening the door for much-needed conversation on hate crimes in Canada.

Better laws can counteract these offences. However, changing laws is obviously not enough. We need to teach empathy in our schools, tolerance in our workplaces, and openness and inclusivity in our community centres and spaces. We have a responsibility, now more than ever, to stand up to discrimination. The roots of prejudice are in lack of understanding, and that is within our power to change.

We know that Canada is not immune to the disturbing trends we see south of the border and across Europe. We have seen how playing with the fire of fear and division can spark violence. However, we have also seen acts of great strength. We have seen citizens speaking up for their friends, for their colleagues, or for complete strangers, refusing to let differences divide them. Now is the time when we must look to that strength and reaffirm our commitment to building a safe, resilient, and welcoming Canada for all.

We know what happens when we fail to stand up to those who seek to divide us.

This week, six Canadians were murdered in a mosque, targeted because of their faith. That act of violence shook our country and triggered an outpouring of support for our Muslim friends and neighbours, as Canadians gathered in vigils across the country to remember the victims. However, we cannot ignore that the hatred that led to a gunman in a mosque in Sainte-Foy, Quebec, is not so different from what drives a teenager to spray a swastika on a door in Ottawa or a commuter to hurl racial slurs on a streetcar in Toronto.

It is critical, now more than ever, that we condemn, not only these acts, but also the divisive rhetoric that inspires them.

At a time when so many are fearful, we can lead by example. We can do more to protect the diversity we are so quick to call our greatest strength.

Every individual in Canada has the right to live without fear of persecution. This bill would be one more step to ensuring that right is protected. I urge every parliamentarian to commit to that cause and support the bill.

Gender Equality Week ActPrivate Members' Business

January 30th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, welcome back to you and all of my colleagues. It is indeed an honour to speak on the first parliamentary day of 2017, the year of our 150th anniversary.

To start off, I would like to thank my colleagues in the House for their interest in Bill C-309, an act to establish gender equality week, for their important contributions to the debate at second reading, and for their support. I would also like to thank 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 want to thank Rachelle Bergen and the Strength in Stories team for their ideas that helped bring us to where we are today.

This effort is about building a more inclusive society. We think about gender equality week as an opportunity to rally all Canadians around a very important issue and to generate additional momentum for social change. It is not an occasion to celebrate accomplishments, but as reflected in the paragraphs in the preamble, gender equality week seeks to raise awareness of the most profound remaining challenges and offers a platform to work collaboratively on concrete solutions.

To be absolutely clear, I am very proud of what we as Canadians are already doing to achieve gender equality and equity. In November 2015, our Prime Minister formed Canada's first cabinet with female and male parity. Our government has launched an inquiry into Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal and indigenous women, and the Minister of Status of Women is developing a federal strategy against gender-based violence.

The Government of Canada introduced Bill C-16, which 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.

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. However, important as these and other actions are, there is more work ahead of us than there is behind us, and to close the remaining gaps, the government will need the advocacy, support, and commitment of Canadians.

Bill C-309 recognizes that need and 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 at all levels of government, young and established professionals, new Canadians, indigenous peoples, Canadians in law enforcement and our armed forces, and seniors. Involvement in gender equality week could take a wide range of forms, including town hall discussions, university and college colloquia, music, plays, literature, film projects, workplace round tables, the formulation and presentation of academic research, public rallies, fundraisers, and social media, radio, and television events and campaigns.

Our consultations with various groups, organizations, and different levels of government helped us develop a substantive preamble that gives Canadians a fuller perspective of the challenges that lie ahead. The challenges posed by gender-based violence and the gender wage gap were identified as particularly critical hurdles that we, as Canadians, must address and overcome. Through active engagement, Canadians can achieve real progress on these fronts.

I look forward to working on Bill C-309 with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle of the House in the days, weeks, and months ahead. I encourage my fellow members to support the bill, as the time to act is now. It is only through concerted, sustained action that real and lasting social change can become a reality.

Gender Equality Week ActPrivate Members' Business

January 30th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back in the House today and to speak in favour of the important legislation of Bill C-309, which would establish a gender equality week in Canada. This would provide a week to reflect on the importance of gender equality and the ongoing need to advance the cause of equality in Canada.

I am proud that our government will support the passage of Bill C-309, with amendments that will be brought at committee. I would like to thank my friend the hon. member for Mississauga—Lakeshore for bringing this important legislation forward.

This is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the work that still needs to be done to ensure greater gender equality.

We know that too many women are still facing systemic inequalities in the workplace. We need more women in politics, and we know that we need more women in the judiciary and more women in STEM professions.

We need to seriously address issues of sexual harassment in the workplace, and we have seen shocking examples recently of the harassment that women in public office face. It includes women in this chamber and women who have risen to become premiers of several provinces across this country, including mine. This is unacceptable, and we know that awareness and education are the most important tools in beginning to correct these issues. A gender equality week is a tool for spreading that awareness and bringing change in our country.

It is important to remember, as well, the importance of gender equality for our transgender community. As special adviser to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, I can state unequivocally there is much work that needs to be done in this area.

Our government has been clear that equality of transgender Canadians is a priority for us because it is a priority for Canadians. Just this last week, I had the opportunity to hold round table conversations in five cities in our country; it is critical for our government to make sure that both houses pass Bill C-16, which would extend rights to transgendered persons. However, there is so much more to do, and I look forward to working with members of this House and continuing to listen to the trans and non-binary community about further steps that need to be taken. However, we do know that there is a serious need for greater awareness and education surrounding the challenges this community faces. Bill C-309 gives us that opportunity.

There are those who argue that the bill is not necessary. There are some who dismiss Bill C-309 as merely a symbolic gesture on which we should not spend any time. After all, they argue, symbols do not matter. I disagree. Symbols do matter. Symbols send powerful messages, particularly when we are discussing equality and human rights. They rally people to press forward, and they give hope and inspiration to those fighting for a better world.

We should take a look at the symbol of Angela Merkel, female Chancellor of Germany. How many girls have been inspired to rise to the top of their professions, due not only to her amazing work but to the symbol that she provides to the world?

We must not dismiss the importance and impact of symbols. It would be a mistake to pit symbol against substance rather than recognize that they are intertwined. Symbols give rise to substantive change, and substantive change leads to more symbols.

Symbols are influential; they are forces of change. Symbols provide the hope and resolve that mobilize crowds and drive people forward. Symbols unite us in pursuit of a better world.

When we set out to establish a gender equality week, when we speak up for inclusion and respect, when we march for LGBTQ2 pride, when we honour the differences, identities, and genders of every individual, we are actively and symbolically recommitting to supporting rights and equality for all.

When we discuss our gender-balanced cabinet, we know it is both a symbol of equality and a sign of substantial action. Symbols lead to substantive change; substantive change leads to more symbols; and we know that every young girl in this country will be able to point to the symbol of gender balance in our executive council and know that, some day, should they want to work hard for it, they could also have a place at that table. That will also ensure substantive action on the changes we need and the different perspectives we need to take in all elements of Canadian society.

Equality is not something that just happens. Repression and discrimination do not just end overnight. It takes the work of activists and trailblazers. It takes time and self-reflection and tough questions. It often takes the support and leadership of government.

It takes the initiative of members of Parliament to be bold, as my colleague has done. Canadians elected the members of our Liberal caucus to show that leadership, and this is one of the many ways that we are bringing real change to Canada and to all Canadians.

December 1st, 2016 / 11:25 a.m.
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Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

That's why I explained it in the way I did, where S-201 comes into effect, C-16 would wipe out S-201's wording.

December 1st, 2016 / 11:25 a.m.
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Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

If you could guarantee that the wording of Bill C-16 would not come into effect, if we defeat this, I'll vote against it.

December 1st, 2016 / 11:25 a.m.
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Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Chair, I would propose that we add a clause 11 that relates to coordinating amendments. I believe it's been circulated.

In my belief, the coordinating amendment is necessary in view of Bill C-16, which was previously considered by this committee and is now in the Senate. It ensures that if one of these pieces of legislation comes into effect, and then contemplating the other one, it would give effect to the wording in the Canadian Human Rights Act with regard to the changes that are sought by each bill.

For example, if this bill were to pass and come into effect and then later Bill C-16 passes, the wording we're giving effect to in the Canadian Human Rights Act with regard to genetic characteristics would be wiped out when Bill C-16 comes into effect. This protects the integrity of this bill if Bill C-16 comes into effect afterwards, or vice versa.

Therefore, it's important that we ensure consistency with regard to the effect that we want for each of these bills. That's why I am proposing the amendment.

Canada Business Corporations ActGovernment Orders

November 25th, 2016 / 12:55 p.m.
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Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development introduced Bill C-25, an act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act. The proposed amendments by the Liberals to Bill C-25 stem from a House of Commons committee-led statutory review in 2010, which in turn led to a further consultation undertaken in 2014 by our previous Conservative government.

Stakeholders raised many important and complex points on a number of corporate governance issues during the consultations. After our previous Conservative government concluded the consultations in 2014, we made a proposal to modernize Canada's corporate governance framework in our 2015 budget. For those members in the House who are not aware, let me read an except from page 140 of our previous Conservative government's economic action plan 2015:

the Government will propose amendments to the [CBCA] to promote gender diversity among public companies, using the widely recognized "comply or explain" model.... Amendments will also be proposed to modernize director election processes and strengthen corporate transparency through an explicit ban on bearer instruments.... Amendments to related statutes governing cooperatives and not-for-profit corporations will also be introduced....

Bill C-25 is the minister's second piece of legislation that he has tabled since being in office now for a year. Just like his first piece of legislation, Bill C-25 came straight from our previous Conservative government's 2015 budget.

I am pleased to see that the hard work our previous government did is continuing through the Liberals, in their need to produce some form of legislation while keeping up the facade that they are hard at work. I do not call this hard at work, and neither do Canadians. However, if the Liberals want to continue taking unpassed Conservative legislation and unfinished work and bringing it forward, they will see our support.

The legislation being brought to the House, overall does not speak well for the Liberal government's priorities. With hundreds of thousands of people out of work in this country, trade deals not signed, pipeline deals stalled, and terrorism on the rise, we have spent days talking about Bill C-18, a park in Toronto, and Bill C-16, about protection of rights that already existed provincially and in the Charter of Rights, and then nearly a week talking about changes to the CPP that will not benefit anyone for 40 years. Soon we will be spending our time discussing whether to make it legal to have anal sex between the ages of 16 and 18.

Seriously, these are the priorities of the present government in the face of serious economic and security circumstances? However, I digress.

If adopted, Bill C-25 would result in changes to the corporate governance regime for reporting issuers incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act. The CBCA is the incorporating statute for nearly 270,000 corporations. Although most of these are small or medium sized and are privately held, a large number of Canada's largest reporting issuers are also governed by the CBCA.

The proposed amendments cover several key corporate governance matters: majority voting, individual voting, annual elections, notice and access, diversity-related disclosure, and shareholder proposal filing deadlines. I am pleased to see that the Liberals moved forward with the “comply or explain” model that our previous government had proposed. It has been proven that more diverse boards lead to better overall decision-making, better boards, better organizations, and better economies.

Our Conservative Party has never been on the sidelines when it comes to diversity firsts in Canada. It was the Conservative Party that had the first female prime minister, elected the first female MP to the House of Commons, the first Chinese, Muslim, Black, Latino, Hindu, Pakistani, Japanese, and physically disabled MPs, and, of course, the first female engineer in the House of Commons. You knew I was going to say that, Mr. Speaker. Our Conservative Party believes in merit, not quotas, and I am pleased to see that we are not going to be missing out on talent.

Since the Ontario Securities Commission implemented the “comply or explain” model two years ago, the number of women on boards has steadily increased to 20%. However, looking at Canada as a whole, in larger companies, women make up an average of 34% on boards.

Implementing the widely used model is the first step to seeing these numbers increase. If enacted, that change would affect about 600 of the approximately 1,500 companies on the TSX.

As chair of the committee on status of women, I can say that our next study will be on improving the economic circumstances of women in Canada. This legislation is aligned with what we would like to see as end results, more women in executive positions and on boards, more women in science, engineering, technology, and math jobs, and gender parity in the workforce.

Research into the effectiveness of teams shows that teams who work more harmoniously are 10% to 20% more productive. One of the findings is that adding more women to teams makes them more harmonious. I support all of these efforts to drive us in the right direction with respect to diversity and inclusion across our country.

When it comes to modernizing corporate governance and reducing red tape, our previous Conservative government made massive strides. We believed in fostering an environment in which businesses could grow and contribute to Canada's long-term prosperity. We recognized that businesses play a vital role in creating jobs and generating economic growth, and that strong business strategies are central to a company's success in creating and sustaining a competitive edge.

Changes proposed to the Competition Act will do just that. They will reduce business uncertainty, create a competitive marketplace, and prevent anti-competitive practices. These amendments will also reduce the administrative burden on businesses.

Our previous Conservative government set a precedent, the first of its kind in any country, when we introduced the one-for-one rule. It brought a new level of discipline to how governments foster a more predictable environment for business, through the reduction of red tape. We took a number of steps to reduce red tape for businesses. Since 2012, the red tape reduction action plan has been proven to be a successful system-wide control on the growth of regulatory red tape. Our previous government saved Canadian businesses over $22 million in administrative burden, as well as 290,000 hours in time spent dealing with unnecessary regulatory burden.

Further enhancing the changes we had made while in government, Bill C-25 was to be our next step in modernizing corporate governance. More accountability and transparency are key for any organization or government. A high performance board is accountable.

The right to vote is important for shareholders and fundamental to democracy. I am pleased to see that shareholder democracy and participation will better align with securities rules, and will require corporations under CBCA to hold annual elections, elect directors individually, and use a majority voting standard. This proposal will bring an end to the debate over those circumstances in which an under-supported director could remain on the board.

The proposed amendments in Bill C-25 will further implement many policies and practices that are already addressed under TSX rules and securities laws. Modernizing the acts addressed in Bill C-25 is a welcomed improvement to the federal corporate statute, and a reflection of the need to enhance companies' corporate governance practices.

If the minister wants to continue putting forward legislation straight from the Conservative budgets, well, those are welcomed too. Certainly, I would love to see some that would bring jobs to our country and address the tax burden that small businesses are facing, especially in light of the additional levels of carbon tax being put in place and the broken promise to reduce small businesses taxes. I would like to see the government move in a direction that will strengthen corporations and small businesses, and actually create jobs to address some of the issues we are facing in the nation.

Obviously, as the chair of the status of women committee, I applaud any moves to accelerate us in getting more women in businesses, on boards, and in senior positions. Certainly, I will be working with the whole committee to look at tangible ways that we can do that. I will bring those forward to the government, in the hope that it will implement that legislation, and those recommendations as well.