The bill is both timely and important in our community. The member for Nepean read a long, very impressive list of groups that are supporting the bill. That tells us a lot about the significance of promotion of hatred in North America at this time.
The bill would do two basic things. One is to expand the number of places that are defined as protected under law against hate-motivated damage, basically from religious property to community institutions like day cares, schools, universities, town halls, senior centres, and sports arenas. This is admirable, because we know that those who want to promote hatred do not pick on churches alone. Although they quite often do pick on churches, we have all seen these messages scrawled elsewhere in our communities. This is the essence of why this is an important bill.
The second part is important to me, as one of the six out gay members of Parliament. It tends to expand the grounds for protection of groups to include sexual orientation and gender identity. That is laudable. We have made progress over the years in extending protections to people of my community, but it has always been done in a piecemeal fashion, kind of step by step. I accept that this is another step in that progress.
Some people are surprised to know that sexual orientation was not originally included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Of course, I am old enough to have been around at that time. In fact, I was actually here in Ottawa at that time, and I was not a supporter of the Charter of Rights because it did not include my rights. That was corrected through decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada.
In 1996, Parliament, and again, a Liberal government, brought forward a government bill to add sexual orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act. In 2004, the section we are really dealing with in this bill was brought forward by Svend Robinson, a New Democrat member of Parliament, and the first out gay member of Parliament. His private member's bill succeeded in working its way through Parliament to add sexual orientation to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code.
Of course, I am very proud that Bill C-16 has now passed in the House of Commons. It would extend that same protection against hate crimes to those who are gender diverse, non-gender binary, or those who are called transgender. Bill C-16 would also add this to the Canadian Human Rights Act.
When this bill gets to committee we will be asking for one small amendment, and that is to make its wording consistent with Bill C-16. That will take a very small amendment, but I am confident that the member for Nepean had no intention of narrowing the bill. I hope to have a good discussion with him about the possibility of that. I regard it as a technical amendment that really meets the objectives of what he laid out in the bill.
When it comes to hate crimes, we know the groups that are most often subjected to them because of the statistics that are kept. However, I would point out in the chamber, as I did in debate on my private member's bill in the last Parliament, and as I did on Bill C-16, that we do not keep good statistics on hate crimes that are committed on the basis of gender identity or gender expression, because these are not explicitly embedded in the law. They are lumped together usually, when they are considered at all, with sexual orientation, which is quite a different matter than gender identity and gender expression. Again, I hope we can make the bill more consistent.
We need a larger debate about hate crimes in this Parliament at some point. I am not faulting the bill. It is not the purpose of the bill, but I would look forward to a discussion, because unfortunately, in the last Parliament, in June of 2013, we passed a bill that removed section 13 from the Canadian Human Rights Act, which would have allowed the Canadian Human Rights Commission to do more proactive work against hate crimes in our society.
The very fact that this is coming forward as a private member's bill gives me some confidence that we can probably find a consensus in this Parliament to actually restore the power to the Canadian Human Rights Commission to do that preventative work that would prevent the kinds of crimes that Bill C-305 is talking about.
I look forward to finding a forum where we could have that broader discussion among MPs.
I would hope that the government might bring forward such a bill as part of its agenda. Again I have to question why this important bill is a private member's bill and not part of the government's agenda. In response to my question, the member for Nepean said he hoped to have the support of his frontbench and the Minister of Justice for this legislation. That is a bit of a waiver for me in terms of my confidence. I hope that we can and will see the government, particularly the frontbench, support the bill and not kill a private member's bill as it has done to other Liberal backbenchers.
When it comes to hate crimes, the crimes that the bill focuses on are the most common. I do have to note once again that the groups most likely to be subject to violent hate crimes are the LGBTQ community and, in particular, transgender Canadians, and within that group, first nations or two-spirited people.
I am pleased that on Friday and Saturday in my riding, the Victoria Native Friendship Centre is putting on a workshop for two-spirited British Columbia youth from across the province to help them build confidence in themselves and to confront the prejudice and the violence they often face. I intend to be at that conference on Friday and to bring news, I hope, that we have support for adding gender identity and gender expression to help protect two-spirited first nation youth in this country against these kinds of hate crimes.
Who is in favour of this legislation? I guess my question should be, who in Canada would not be in favour of this legislation? Quite often because of the immense overflow of American culture and American politics into Canadian society, we get caught up in the negativity that goes on there, particularly the negativity of the presidential campaign, and the increased frequency of hate crimes reported throughout the United States as a result of the unfortunate encouragement of prejudice and hate by some very prominent citizens, including the current president-elect of the United States, whose name I always avoid saying.
As previous speakers have done, I am not going to review some of the incidents that have taken place. We all know about them. It is a bit like my own personal habit of not mentioning the perpetrators of crime, but instead talk about the victims and how they recover from that crime. It is important that we recognize the reality, and I thank the member for Nepean and the member from Edmonton for bringing that to our attention again.
I know my time is drawing short, but let me go back to what I said at the beginning of my remarks. I extend my thanks to the member for Nepean for bringing this forward. I encourage him to talk to the frontbench of his party seriously to make sure that those members will support this legislation. We have found some support, I hope broad support, within the Conservative caucus. The member will find universal support in the NDP caucus for his bill. We will ask for what I regard as a technical amendment to broaden the legislation a bit to make it consistent with Bill C-16. We look forward to this legislation's passing through the House expeditiously.