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.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we know that the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, has a long-standing relationship with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, an organization that fights against a woman's right to choose. With the support of the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform having been so critical to his leadership victory, it is not difficult to understand why the Leader of the Opposition has a vested interest in ensuring the centre can continue to rely on taxpayer funds to promote its anti-abortion agenda.

The Leader of the Opposition also gave a statement where he affirmed that he voted against transgender rights in Bill C-16. We know the Leader of the Opposition is against LBGTQ2 rights. He is against a woman's right to choose, and is against transgender rights.

I would ask the member, should attestation attach itself to the beliefs of the organization or to the belief that individuals who are applying for jobs not be discriminated against?

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to provide our government's perspective on an issue that is at the heart of our employment objectives for our young people, which is the issue of access to good-quality jobs.

Canada summer jobs has been a very successful Government of Canada program that has offered thousands of youth job opportunities since it was first created. The program has been reaching its objectives to give young people the opportunity to acquire work and life experience while supporting community-based initiatives. Fundamentally, this is about jobs for kids.

These are simple objectives. The spirit of the program is to open doors for young people and give them a good start to their working careers.

It has been my honour as a member of Parliament to approve this list for hundreds of young people in our community and to ensure that at every point in every year I was able to make those kinds of calls, no discrimination was taking place.

In this context, the organizations that provide quality employment to young people through the Canada summer jobs program are as varied as the economic sectors in the country. The CSJ program provides funding to not-for-profit organizations, public sector employers, and small businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees. The range of activities is therefore almost unlimited.

There are, and have been, a number of eligibility criteria that employers must meet, but there is one key requirement that underpins eligibility, and that criterion is respect.

This program, which has certainly already proven itself, provides subsidies to employers so that they can create valuable summer jobs for students enrolled in secondary or post-secondary studies. This can include employers in the public sector, private companies with fewer than 50 employees, and non-profit organizations. Religious and faith-based organizations are of course eligible for program funding, as in past years, and we strongly encourage them to submit an application.

However, it is important to remember that one of the fundamental principles our government believes in is upholding the rights of Canadians, especially the rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is why, after we learned that funding through this program had been used to undermine the rights of some Canadians, we took the necessary steps to ensure that it never happens again. As the government, we had a duty to consider the fact that some organizations were not allowing young people from the LGBTQ2 community to attend their summer camps or they were distributing images of aborted fetuses. That is why we had to ask organizations to clarify their mandate and their primary activities before giving them funding under the Canada summer jobs program.

Our government and members of the government have been clear and vocal about our basic values over the course of our two-year time in government, values like inclusion, compassion, respect, and no discrimination. We have been trying to integrate those values into our policies and programs, like our progressive trade agenda and the inclusion of human factors in environmental assessments.

This year, the CSJ program includes an element whereby applicants are required to attest that both the job and the organization's core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. We know there were comments and conversations about this and that there were constructive conversations between reasonable people. The Prime Minister spoke with the cardinal of Montreal, and the cardinal encouraged all Catholic parishes to apply to the fund. That is a fantastic example of constructive dialogue between government and faith organizations.

There is an old line that my uncle would use when we would all get together at Christmastime. He would tell all sorts of hilarious jokes and wild stories. If anybody ever questioned him about the details of his jokes, he would say, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” I have to compliment the opposition members today for bringing me back to those Christmas dinners, because they obviously feel they have a great storyline but the truth has nothing to do with it.

The arguments of the Conservative Party have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual content of the attestation or our government's policy on the Canada summer jobs grant. The attestation makes it crystal clear that it has nothing to do with an individual's personal beliefs, but everything to do with the nature of the jobs that organization is hiring for and the nature of the organization's core mandate, the core mandate not their personal beliefs.

The motion talks about organizations whose mandate is to feed the homeless. There is nothing in the attestation talking about core mandates of feeding the homeless. I want to see an end to homelessness. I want to ensure that all homeless people are fed, and so does our government.

The motion talks about organizations that help refugees. There is nothing in the attestation about having a core mandate to help refugees.

The opposition is pulling its hair out over a problem that simply does not exist. I sympathize with pulling one's hair out because I do not have much left to pull out. However, the Conservative Party is looking for headlines. The Conservatives see an opportunity to scare Canadians into thinking the government is coming for them and their private beliefs. Nothing could be further from the truth. People are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with the freedom to worship in our country.

Let us talk about what is in the attestation. In particular, I want to talk about a key aspect of the attestation that has not received much attention in this discussion. It is the requirement to attest that the job and the organization will respect the right to be from discrimination on the grounds protected by the Canada Human Rights Act, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Some 15 months ago, the House passed Bill C-16 to protect Canadians from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression. It explicitly protects transgender and non-binary Canadians from being discriminated against in employment. Bill C-16, as members well know, is now law, and it passed the House with the support of members from all parties, including the mover of today's motion. Perhaps those members can explain why they voted for a law that protects gender-diverse Canadians from discrimination in employment, but are now angry that the Government of Canada will not fund organizations that want to discriminate in employment against these very gender-diverse Canadians.

Individuals are entitled to their personal beliefs. However, it is a reality that there are organizations that hold LGBTQ2 people like me with contempt and believe they are entitled to discriminate against me and others because of who we love or how we express our gender. That is why governments have passed laws to protect me and members of my community from that discrimination. Yet, it seems, from the arguments I hear today, that there is a belief that these organisations are not only entitled to discriminate, but they deserve a big government effort and government financing to help them fund that effort.

Our government has taken a stand that if an organization's mandate is to turn back the clock and take away the rights and human dignity of LGBTQ2 Canadians, or women, or indigenous people, or people with disabilities or people of visible minority background, it has the right to do so but it does not have the right to expect LGBTQ2 Canadians and other taxpayers to pay it to do it.

The other piece of this discussion is with respect to abortion. Once again, individuals are entitled to have different views on this issue. For 10 years, the previous government refused to fund international organizations that performed abortion services overseas. The Conservatives had said that if an organization was involved in abortion, it did not get Government of Canada funding. I remember those days. I do not remember a single member opposite speaking out about it. The members seemed perfectly fine to deny needed medical services to women based on a viewpoint on abortion. However, our government refuses to pay organizations to hire individuals to protest outside of an abortion clinic to scare or abuse women, or pay organizations to hand out grotesque pamphlets on the streets. We have a problem with that.

Again, people are absolutely entitled to their own points of view in our country. They are entitled to hold those views and apply for or receive a summer job grant. However, if they choose to discriminate in their employment or want to hire people for no other job than to turn back the clock on women's rights, on LGBTQ2 rights, on the rights of persons with disabilities, on indigenous rights, then this government will decline their requests for such a cheque.

Who is supporting us in this matter? Abortion Support Services Atlantic, Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition, Shelter House Thunder Bay, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, as well as the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.

Is it too much to ask that a Government of Canada program respect the individual rights and values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? That all seems reasonable to our government as well as to major stakeholders, including the National Association of Women and the Law. I hope all members in the House will come to the same conclusion.

We are forging ahead with our goal of strengthening the middle class and creating a level playing field where everyone has the chance to succeed. That is our vision. That is our commitment.

Opposition Motion—Canada Summer Jobs ProgramBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 1st, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Madam Speaker, as parliamentary secretary, I am very pleased to stand today and join in this debate.

I want to recognize my colleague from Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas for, even in her question, providing that clarification had been circulated. The NDP has identified that as well. The clarifications were provided quite some time ago to all members of Parliament and community groups.

My friend and colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London, a member whom I like a great deal, referred to the attestation as “BS”. If the “BS” stands for a “brave stand”, then I agree with her. This is all about a government that is standing up for the rights of Canadians, rights that were fought for by women, immigrants, and the LGBTQ2 community. These rights have long been fought for, and there is an expectation of the government of the day to stand by those citizens and defend those rights, which is exactly what we are doing through this initiative. Therefore, I am very happy to stand and speak to the motion today.

It is not news to any Canadian that prosperity depends more and more on a solid start for the next generation of workers. It also depends on the work experience they can gain to succeed in their careers to continue to boost our national economy and help our middle class prosper.

A summer job is an important opportunity for young people to get that kind of valuable work experience for which employers are looking. We hear time and time again that, “Yes, we'd like to give you the opportunity, but you have no experience”. Well, it is tough to get that experience if young people are not presented with that opportunity. This type of job also enables students to earn some money to help offset the cost of the school year ahead.

This is why our government is taking action right away. As a result of our government's increased investments in 2017, the number of jobs offered to young Canadians through the Canada summer jobs program nearly doubled compared to 2015 with the outgoing Conservative government.

The Canada summer jobs program is about creating quality work experience for young Canadians right across the country. When we learned that funding through the Canada summer jobs program had been used to undermine the rights of some Canadians, we took the necessary steps to ensure those rights were respected.

In the past, funding was used to support organizations like the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, which put kids to work distributing graphic images of aborted fetuses, and other organizations that did not welcome youth from the LGBTQ2 community in their summer camps. We know the Conservative Party has a different opinion on some of these issues.

On April 26, 2017, weeks before the Conservative leadership vote, Jonathon Van Maren, the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, wrote in a blog post endorsing the current leader of the opposition as one of the top three choices in the leadership race. He reached out to the leader and gave him a statement in which he affirmed that the leader of the opposition had always voted in favour of anti-choice legislation.

The leader of the opposition is against our $650 million investment in maternal health so women around the world can have safe access to the abortion health services they require. The leader of the opposition affirmed that he voted against transgender rights in Bill C-16. He believes that Jordan Peterson is correct on his views of gender pronouns. We know the leader is against LGBTQ2 rights. He is against women's right to choose and against transgender rights, as his own words have confirmed.

The Government of Canada is committed to respecting the fundamental rights of all Canadians, including the LGBTQ2 and women's rights. We also support the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There is nothing controversial about that.

We have taken concrete steps to prevent federal funding from going to create jobs that do not respect the rights of all Canadians.

As a result, the Canadian summer jobs 2018 application form asks organizations to confirm that both their core mandate and the jobs in question respect individual human rights and labour laws and do not support discriminatory practices. It is a question of justice and equality for everyone, not a question of beliefs. It is another example of the traditional Canadian approach of diversity and inclusion.

The opposition keeps talking about critics, but let me take a different view.

We want to talk about the many supporters of the attestation. Major Canadian organizations are supporting our approach. In fact, our government received an open letter from the National Association of Women and the Law saying how supportive it was of this year's eligibility requirements for CSJ applicants. A number of my colleagues in the House today know that the women in law group testified yesterday at committee on Bill C-65. They know that it is a highly regarded organization nationally, if not universally.

The association wrote, in black and white:

Significant misinformation has been widely circulated in the media about the nature of the attestation that is now required by organizations that wish to apply for federal government grants for student jobs through the CSJ program. We are confident that the safeguards introduced to the CSJ program are not discriminatory, and do not represent any infringement on freedom of religion, conscience, or any other rights that people in Canada enjoy.

This comes from an organization that promotes the equality rights of women in our country. This organization has played a major role in major milestones toward women's equality in Canada, such as the inclusions of sections 15 and 28 in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; amendments to sexual assault laws, positive changes to family law and to the divorce act; rape shield legislation; and criminal harassment legislation.

There is more.

An open letter of support was signed by 80 major organizations from across Canada. Let me name a few. There is Oxfam Canada, YMCA Canada, The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, Women's Human Rights Education Institute, Abortion Support Services Atlantic, Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition, the Network of Black Business & Professional Women, Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, Canadian Health Coalition. The list of supporting organizations goes on and on. Strong voices across the country are raising in support of this year's eligibility requirements for CSJ applicants. Who is in a better position than these organizations to speak out on the issue that concerns us today?

This display of support is just one example. There are many more supporters of the attestation that is required by CSJ applicants.

However, people may ask what the Canada summer jobs program consists of. It is a federal program that aims to provide salary subsidies to employers so they can create jobs for high school and post-secondary students. It provides financial aid to the not-for-profit organizations, public sector employers, and small businesses with up to 50 employees. This funding enables the creation of summer job opportunities for youth between the ages of 15 and 30, who are studying full time and are planning to go back to school for the following year. As was the case in years past, religious and faith-based organizations are eligible for funding through the program and are invited to apply.

To better meet the changing needs of the new increasingly globalized economy, our youth employment strategy helps young Canadians receive valuable work experience and skills development in support of their future career. It includes three program streams.

First, the skills stream helps youth facing barriers to employment develop the skills they need to find a job or go back to school. The focus is on single parents and newcomers, as well as youth with disabilities, indigenous youth, and youth in rural and remote areas.

The second stream, career focus, helps post-secondary graduates find a job through paid internships. It provides these youth with the information and experience they need to make an informed decision about their career, find a job, or pursue graduate studies.

Finally, the summer work experience stream offers subsidies to employers for them to create summer jobs for high school and post-secondary students and includes the Canada summer jobs program. Each year we invest over $330 million in this strategy and we have committed to investing an additional $340 million over three years to create up to 35,000 additional summer jobs for youth.

In fact, I would be remiss if I did not mention that in budget 2018, our government proposes to provide an additional $450 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, for the youth employment strategy. This funding will support the continued growth of the number of job placements funded under Canada summer jobs in 2019-20. It will also provide additional resources for a modernized youth employment strategy in the following years, building on the input of the expert panel on youth employment. As well, a renewed youth employment strategy will be announced over the course of the next year.

All this to say, we are doing this for Canadian youth.

Let us go back to the issue today.

Under Canada summer jobs, employers are invited to submit an application that meets the program's national priorities, which were established to better meet the current and future needs of the labour market and improve the situation of youth in the labour market. This means that we prioritize jobs created by employers that intend to hire youth from under-represented groups, including new immigrants or refugees, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and visible minorities.

The program will also favour small job creating businesses, organizations that support employment opportunities for official language minority communities, and organizations that offer services or support to the LGBTQ2 community.

Canada summer jobs will also place a particular focus on organizations that support job opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematic sectors, as well as the information and communications technology sectors, particular for women.

For this reason, the CSJ program will not provide funding to organizations whose main activities include partisan political activities or seek to remove or undermine established individual rights for Canadians. To clarify, our government has taken the principled stand that we will not fund groups that distribute graphic pictures of bloody fetuses to school-age children. Any organization whose activities aim to limit women's existing reproductive rights will not be eligible for this funding. The same goes for a summer camp that would submit an application to hire students as camp councillors at a camp that would not welcome youth from the LGBTQ2 community.

On the other hand, many other faith-based organizations would be eligible for the program. Say, for example, a faith-based organization with anti-abortion beliefs applies for funding to hire students to serve meals to the homeless. The organization provides numerous programs in support of its community. The students would be responsible for meal planning, buying groceries, serving meals, etc. This organization would be eligible to apply.

Say another faith-based organization that embraces the traditional definition of marriage but whose primary activities reduce social isolation among seniors applies for funding to hire students. The students would be responsible for developing and delivering programs for all seniors, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. This organization would be eligible to apply.

Another example would be an organization with anti-abortion beliefs that runs a summer camp for underprivileged youth. It would be eligible to submit an application. This would enable it to offer students summer jobs as camp counsellors.

Applicants have to confirm that they meet the new requirement through an attestation included in the application form. They are not required to share their points of view, their beliefs, or their values, because these are not taken into consideration in the program application process. That an organization is affiliated with a religion does not make it ineligible. Service Canada evaluates the applications based on the eligibility and assessment criteria, including national and local priorities. All the eligible applications in a constituency are ranked accordingly.

Each year, members of Parliament are invited to take part in certain activities related to the Canada summer jobs program. This means that elected officials can help promote the program, establish local priorities, confirm the list of projects, inform the selected employers, and take part in announcements related to those programs. Members of Parliament are invited to take part in these aspects of the CSJ program, but their participation is, of course, voluntary.

In cases where members of Parliament do not take part in the process, Service Canada establishes the list of projects for their constituencies. Summer job priorities will not be the same in Nunavut as they are in Toronto or Calgary or Vancouver or Cape Breton—Canso. They will not be the same in Prince Edward Island as they are in Saskatchewan.

The Canada summer jobs program is not a government program just like any other. It meets the needs of a young, dynamic workforce while at the same time meeting the current needs of each region across this country during the summer period. Above all, it meets young people's need to get rewarding summer work that will help them gain much-needed experience to start their professional lives.

Our government is committed to ensuring that government funding respects Canadians' hard-won rights, particularly those of women and the LGBTQ2 community. We have taken the principled stand that we will not fund groups that distribute graphic pictures of bloody fetuses to school-age children or any groups whose jobs will limit the protections Canadians depend on.

We know that religious- and faith-based organizations, which are primarily focused on compassion and helping those in our society who are most in need, offer valuable services to our communities. The changes we have made to the CSJ program will ensure that youth who get jobs funded by the government will be working in an environment that respects the rights of all Canadians.

Indigenous Peoples and Canada's Justice SystemGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
See context

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 on this day, a day on which the Prime Minister stood in this House to announce that we will introduce legislation to enshrine, finally, the recognition and implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples as the basis for all relations between indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada.

I was also proud to join the Minister of Justice in this take-note debate as she described in detail the hard work and great progress we have made on criminal justice reform. The many examples include Bill C-51, which would strengthen sexual assault laws; Bill C-46, which would strengthen our impaired driving laws; and Bill C-16, which would protect gender expression and identity under the charter. We have also made significant progress in renewing our relationship with indigenous peoples, one that is based on respect and the right to self-govern.

How are we doing this? We are doing it in a number of ways: one, by implementing the RCAP recommendation to create two separate departments, one that is mandated to focus on indigenous-crown relations and the other a department to focus on the provision of indigenous services; two, by embracing the UNDRIP principles; three, by the creation of the working group, which is currently reviewing all federal laws and policies to ensure that Canada is fulfilling its constitutional obligation with indigenous peoples; and four, by creating and enshrining 10 principles which inform our relationship. This is merely a starting point, in a renewed approach, where we are supporting the rebuilding of indigenous governments and nations while, in turn, reducing the use of the courts to resolve conflict.

Ultimately, this work will help assist Canada to overcome the legacy of colonization and achieve true reconciliation with indigenous peoples. This is a historic moment, one for which indigenous peoples have been advocating for many decades. As we move toward the next 150 years of Canada, we envision a country that is more inclusive of first nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Making the shift is fundamental to the growth and prosperity of Canada.

In terms of this take-note debate, let me say a few words.

Indigenous peoples are concerned because they do not know if the criminal justice system will treat them fairly, whether they are victim or accused. As the government strives to establish a nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples, we must recognize and resolve these problems.

Let me speak for a few moments about the very well-documented, systemic challenges which currently exist in our criminal justice system. In this regard, the statistics reveal a number of concerning trends.

Indigenous people are more likely than any other Canadian to be victims of crime. Indigenous people are more than twice as likely to be victims of violent crimes than non-indigenous people. Indigenous women are also three times more likely to experience sexual assault.

Over 1,200 indigenous women and girls have gone missing or have been murdered. Sixteen per cent of all women murdered in Canada from 1980 to 2014 were indigenous, although they make up 4% of Canada's female population.

In 2015-16, indigenous adults accounted for 27% of admissions to custody in provincial and territorial institutions, and 28% of admissions to federal institutions. This is about seven times higher than the proportion of indigenous adults in the Canadian adult population. The overrepresentation is more pronounced for indigenous women than it is for indigenous men. In 2014-15, 38% of female admissions to provincial custody and 31% of female admissions to federal custody were indigenous women. Indigenous youth are also overrepresented in our jails. They are only 7.5% of the Canadian youth population, but they account for 35% of admissions to provincial and territorial correctional services.

These statistics are telling, and they call on us to do the important work that is before us now. What is that work?

In light of these trends, we are taking action to improve the experience of indigenous people in the criminal justice system. Specifically, we have taken steps to strengthen programming to improve outcomes for indigenous people when they come in contact with the criminal justice system as both victims and accused.

The 2017 budget set aside approximately $11 million in permanent funding for the indigenous justice program, and the 2016 budget boosted permanent funding for the indigenous courtwork program by $4 million. These programs offer support to reduce recidivism and tackle the root causes of delinquency among indigenous individuals in an effort to reduce their contact with the criminal justice system.

Alongside the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the Department of Justice has also undertaken two new victim service initiatives to provide direct assistance to families. The first is funding the creation of family information liaison units, a new service to help families access available information about their loved ones from multiple government sources. Second, the department is providing additional funding for indigenous community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and victim services to support the delivery of culturally responsive and trauma-informed services for families of missing or murdered indigenous women and girls.

Of course, we know that funding alone is not enough. That is why our government has also been engaging with indigenous people and with all Canadians to assess the problems faced by indigenous people in the criminal justice system. This engagement has taken place through round tables on our indigenous justice program. I have been privileged to participate in that broad national round table engagement process along with the Minister of Justice.

More broadly, under the leadership of the Minister of Justice, our government has also undertaken a review of Canada's criminal justice system to ensure that it is just, compassionate, and fair, and promotes a safe, peaceful, and prosperous society.

What we are hearing is that the challenges facing Canada's indigenous community, including overrepresentation, which I have already alluded to, are top of mind when it comes to this government's agenda, when it comes to consultations and reform.

As our government continues the important work towards reconciliation with indigenous peoples, we have also developed 10 principles respecting Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples, principles which base the relationship between indigenous peoples and the federal government on the right of self-determination, and relationships based on recognition and implementation of rights. The 10 principles are intended to be a starting point for a recognition-based approach to changing federal laws, policies, and operational practices that recognize indigenous peoples.

Lastly, the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls was established in December 2015, and work began in September 2016.

The independent commission was tasked with examining the systemic causes behind the violence that indigenous women and girls experience and their vulnerability to violence, as well as the institutional policies and practices put in place as a response to violence, including those that have been effective in reducing violence and increasing safety. The commission was then asked to make recommendations on concrete measures to end this national tragedy and honour and commemorate missing and murdered individuals.

What are the steps moving forward? While the important initiatives I have described are critical to improving the experience of indigenous peoples, our government recognizes that we can and must do better for all Canadians. While it would be inappropriate for me to speak about the specific circumstances around the Stanley case, we must recognize the historic patterns that exclude and victimize indigenous Canadians. Part of our work in understanding and recognizing victimization is to meet with and listen to indigenous Canadians. Listening to Canadians in this way and expressing our empathy does not undermine the operation of the criminal justice system; rather, it will serve to strengthen it. Some of the concerns we have heard this week relate to the jury selection process, and the Minister of Justice has indicated our government's willingness to look at those provisions as part of our overall criminal justice review.

More broadly, our government, led by the Department of Justice, is currently developing an action plan to reduce the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system, both as victims and as offenders. The goal of this action plan is to advance federal efforts toward responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action respecting adult and youth indigenous overrepresentation. We will continue to develop the action plan through engagement with indigenous partners and collaboration with provincial and territorial governments.

In conclusion, all Canadians know that we can and must do more to reshape the experience of indigenous Canadians in our criminal justice system. We must do this work in partnership with indigenous peoples, recognizing our role and our efforts to continue on the path of reconciliation.

Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, as a gay man, I take particular pride in standing in the House today to speak to Bill C-66. For me, the bill is an important and necessary part of the apology delivered by the Prime Minister in the House just a week ago. In that apology, the Prime Minister acknowledged that governments in Canada had run campaigns of humiliation, intimidation, firings, and persecution of fellow Canadians on the basis of their sexual orientation. This ranged from interrogations; to pressure to inform on colleagues, to firings from the public service, the foreign service, the RCMP, and the Canadian Forces; and to campaigns by police targeting gay men for consensual same-sex activity, all of this despite the fact that most forms of same-sex activity were legalized in 1969.

As a gay man of a certain age, I also take a personal interest in the expungement legislation. It was probably more a matter of luck than anything else that I was not caught in the nets cast to capture gay men in public places, like the 146 men arrested in raids on two gay bars in Montreal in 1977, places and a year in Montreal which I am familiar. More than 300 were arrested in raids on four bath houses in Toronto in 1981.

What is important about these two events is that both of them sparked public demonstrations for the first time against these campaigns of arrests. More than 2,000 turned out in Montreal and more than 3,000 turned out in Toronto. These demonstrations marked the beginning of the organized resistance of the LGBTQ community against these campaigns of oppression, resistance which has ultimately led to this legislation being before the House today.

Correcting some of the injustices resulting from these campaigns is indeed the purpose of Bill C-66, as those subject to these campaigns suffered real consequences. However, some of these consequences can never be reversed, especially as many of the resulting charges led to public humiliation when the names of those arrested were released for publication in the media, this at a time when being out was not really a thing and was far from being socially acceptable. Those who were convicted found themselves with severe limitations on their ability to retain jobs or to find new jobs if they were fired, as discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was only outlawed in most jurisdictions in the 1990s, with the notable exception of Quebec, where it took place in 1977, and Manitoba in 1986.

A settlement of the class action law suit launched by those who were fired from their federal jobs, and on which agreement in principle was reached only days before the apology, will provide some monetary compensation to those still living who lost jobs. However, there are other consequences of convictions resulting from these campaigns against consensual same-sex activity that continue to this day.

Those with criminal records remain prohibited from volunteering with vulnerable people, whether that would be serving as a role model for LGBTQ2 youth, as foster parents, or volunteering to serve seniors with dementia. Of course, criminal records often result in severe restrictions on the ability to travel abroad.

While I am glad to see the legislation being dealt with expeditiously in the House, I have to remind my colleagues that many in my community have waited decades for this moment to come. Many never thought we would see this day and many, in fact, did not live to see this day, some simply because it has taken too long and some because having their lives and careers ruined as a result of those campaigns led them to take their own lives.

In 1992, NDP MP Svend Robinson raised the question of the gay purges with Conservative Prime Minister Mulroney, and he responded that “if” these campaigns had occurred, they would have constituted human rights violations and should have been investigated. However, 25 years ago nothing came of this.

Activists within the LGBTQ community first made formal demands for an apology in 1998, nearly a decade ago, but the Liberal government of the day did not respond. In 2014, long-time NDP member of Parliament and first out lesbian in the House, Libby Davies, introduced a motion calling for an apology. Also in 2014, NDP MP Philip Toone introduced a bill to get rid of these unjust criminal records.

When we look at how the LGBTQ2 community has pursued an apology and expungement of criminal records for 25 years, the words fast and expeditiously need to be used sparingly when it comes to Parliament acknowledging the unjust treatment of the community and responding appropriately.

Nevertheless, I take the apology very seriously. I hope it will be a springboard for action, not just to redress previous wrongs but to launch efforts to remove ongoing discrimination against my community, including ending the gay blood ban, fully implementing Bill C-16 to bring about equal treatment for transgender and gender variant Canadians, and ensuring the concerns of two-spirited Canadians are addressed whenever reconciliation is on the table.

At this point, I should restate the NDP position on the bill, and that is that the bill should go forward quickly, as there are ways within the bill itself to deal with the concerns that have been raised since it was tabled.

It is unfortunate that the community and the many researchers and activists who have been working on this issue were not consulted in the drafting. those like Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile, who we can actually say wrote the book on this, when they published their book The Canadian War on Queers in 2010. For some reason, the Liberal government was determined to keep consultations on redress separate and apart from consultations on the apology itself.

Turning to the contents of Bill C-66, there is of course one big omission in the bill. It excludes bawdy house offences from the list of offences for which one can apply for expungement, never mind that raids on gay bars and bath houses were key parts of the campaign of persecution against gay men. It is a curious omission from the list for which one can seek expungement when the Prime Minister himself clearly labelled use of bawdy house provisions against the LGBTQ2 community as discriminatory, and specifically included both bathhouse raids and entrapment by the police in his apology. Therefore, it seems wrong that the list of offences in the bill is narrower than the apology delivered by the Prime Minister.

One might ask why am I arguing this bill ought to go forward with this gap in it. Clause 23 of the bill allows cabinet to add offences to the schedule by order in council. I trust the Liberal government will consider these issues that have been raised and discussed here today and will fully implement the apology after the bill passes by adding bawdy house offences to the schedule. The New Democrats will be here to remind the Liberals if they should forget or dawdle.

Some have expressed a concern that offences added later would have lesser status and could easily be removed by a future government. Let me point to the testimony by officials in the public safety committee Monday, reassuring us that once offences were in the schedule it would require legislative action to remove them.

On the question of ensuring there are no obstacles to LGBTQ2 citizens being able to use the expungement process, again we heard reassurance from the public safety, justice, and Parole Board officials. First and foremost was the confirmation that we had again here today, that there would be no fee to apply for expungement. Second, there was assurance from the Parole Board that the application process would remain “simplified” and that staff would be made available to help citizens file their applications so they would not be required to retain legal counsel to do so.

Another concern is the question of what would constitute proof of consent for offences, which are often quite old and are convictions for offences for which the question of consent was not germane to the conviction. The bill says that it has to have been consensual sex. Again, officials assured the public safety committee that dealing with this question was the purpose of proposed section 7(3), allowing sworn statements where records, and therefore evidence on the question of consent, are not available. Further, the government's charter statement on Bill C-66, which was tabled yesterday, very clearly says the following, “Pursuant to sections 12 and 13, the Board must expunge if there is no evidence that the applicable criteria are not satisfied...”

With regard to the age of consent provisions, officials again pointed out that the laddering provisions in effect at the time of the conviction allowing exemptions for those close in age would still apply to the expungement.

I stand here today as a proud member of the LGBTQ2 community and a proud member of a House of Commons, which has acknowledged the historical campaigns of persecution against my community, apologized for those injustices, and with this bill, has begun the process of redress that will complete the apology.

My community waited decades for this acknowledgement and apology, so I am glad we have moved quickly on the bill, even if we were very late at getting to the starting line.

Let me stress once again my hope and the hope of my community that the apology will mark a turning point and a springboard not just for action to address the historical injustices, but a springboard for action to remove ongoing discrimination.

Members of the LGBTQ2 community who were the subject of campaigns of persecution should not have to wait longer to see the formal part of these injustices undone. We have come a long way, but there is still more work to do.

Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions ActGovernment Orders

December 8th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-66.

I, along with all members, was in the House for the landmark apology that was offered by the Prime Minister to the LGBTQ2 community. The apology was then echoed by every party leader in the House. It was an incredibly moving moment.

I remember debating same sex marriage in the House. I remember how difficult the debate was and how proud I was to support the legislation at the time. To see how much progress we have made on this issue as a country is very heartening.

I attended an event that the Canadian Human Rights Voice hosted, where Todd Ross was honoured, and he shared his story. He served in the Canadian military with distinction. However, as a very young man, he was forced, through lie detector tests, to come out to two strangers in a room that he was gay, before he had the opportunity to come out to anybody else, and he was forcibly removed from our military. To hear share his story, and what that apology by our Prime Minister and every party leader meant to him was so important. We already see the effects of that apology. However, that apology in and of itself is not enough.

The Prime Minister's assertion that the injustices will never be repeated again, that we will not make the same mistakes is essential. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that we work with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit communities to make right past wrongs and to ensure this never happens again. We are proud of the relationship we have with this community, but we recognize how much work needs to be done. Bill C-66 is a critical part of that.

It is difficult for many of us to fathom that there was a time in our history where laws allowed persons to be charged, prosecuted, and criminally convicted simply because of who they loved. LGBTQ2 Canadians were humiliated, imprisoned, and saddled with criminal records because of their sexual orientation. They were forced to live with permanent stains on their lives when they had done nothing wrong, until now.

Bill C-66, the expungement of historically unjust convictions act, would create a process to permanently destroy the records of a conviction of offence involving consensual activity between same sex partners that would be lawful today. It would give the Parole Board of Canada jurisdiction to order or refuse to order expungement of a conviction. It would deem a person convicted of an offence for which expungement was ordered never to have been convicted of that offence.

This is very different from other processes that currently exist today. For example, a record suspension or pardon, the purpose of which is to remove barriers to reintegration for former offenders, does not destroy the criminal record. It sets aside for most purposes, but the criminal record could be disclosed or revoked in certain circumstances when public safety is at risk. Also, record suspensions or pardons cannot be granted posthumously, meaning those who have died do not get an opportunity to have their name cleared.

In contrast, the government fully recognizes that those convictions constitute a historic injustice and that they should not be viewed as former offenders. They are not only wrong today but they were wrong then, in violation of our charter, and of fundamental rights. These convictions were for an act that should never have been a crime. However, this expungement process will allow these convictions to be fully and permanently removed from federal databases.

For thousands of Canadians impacted, the process will be straightforward. Applying will be free of charge. Those eligible to apply directly can do so to the Parole Board. In the case of deceased persons, a family member, loved one, or other appropriate representative will be able to apply on their behalf. This is consistent with the recommendation of Egale Canada's human rights trust.

Applicants will need to provide evidence that the conviction meets certain criteria, including that the act was between same-sex individuals, that it was consensual, and that those involved were at least 16 years of age or subject to a close in age defence under the Criminal Code.

Upon confirmation of a successful application, the record of the conviction can be destroyed. That means once the Parole Board orders expungement, the RCMP will permanently destroy any record of the conviction in its custody. It will also notify any federal department or agency that to its knowledge has any records of the conviction and direct it to do the same. Relevant court and municipal and provincial forces will be notified of the expungement order as well.

Expungement offers more than a clean criminal record check. It is recognition that the conviction was unjust and that it never should have occurred in the first place. It is recognition that it was inconsistent with the fundamental rights now protected under the charter of rights and freedoms.

All of this is not to say that there will be blanket expungement. Indeed, we want to ensure we are only catching those who meet the set criteria. Criminal records for individuals convicted of non-consensual sexual activity will continue to be upheld. Applications submitted for an ineligible offence or by an ineligible applicant will also be rejected. Furthermore, an automatic expungement process would be irresponsible as it could result in the expungement of records for acts that are still criminal.

However, those eligible will find the process to expunge their record very straightforward. This includes military service members whose offences sometimes were prosecuted under the National Defence Act. That is why we have allowed for a schedule of eligible offences that will apply to convictions under the Criminal Code as well as convictions under the National Defence Act.

Applications must be for offences listed in the schedule of the act, and initially this will include buggery, gross indecency, and anal intercourse.

The act would allow for the Governor-in-Council, in future, to make other historically unjust convictions eligible for expungement by amending the schedule of eligible offences, and as necessary, criteria through order in council.

Given the historic nature of these offences, if court or police records are not available, sworn statements may be accepted as evidence.

It should be noted that anyone attempting to mislead the Parole Board about a historical offence can be charged with perjury.

To put all of this in place, the government has set side $4 million over two years to implement this new process. Proactive outreach will also be undertaken to increase awareness of the initiative, the criteria, and the application process among potential applicants. The government will work with federal partners and stakeholders from the LGBTQ2 community to inform potential applicants.

It is now incumbent upon us to ensure that happens sooner rather than later.

The moment the bill is passed we can begin accepting applications, which is why I would urge all members to pass the bill as expeditiously as possible. The Parole Board of Canada can begin accepting applications as soon as this legislation is brought into force.

At the same time the government introduced the bill, it announced a settlement in the class action lawsuit for actions related to the purge. This will provide up to $145 million to former public servants and military and RCMP members impacted by state-sponsored systemic oppression and rejection.

The agreement in principle also includes a minimum investment of $15 million by the Government of Canada for projects that will record and memorialize those historic events, so we never forget our past, so we never repeat it again in the future. That includes museum exhibits curated by the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. It includes a national monument located right in Ottawa, along with an education package memorializing the historic discrimination against the LGBTQ2 community.

As I have mentioned, all of this represents an important step but not a panacea. Working to create the inclusive and diverse country we want will take sustained effort and collaboration on all our parts.

As the Prime Minister noted in his apology, “Discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities is not a moment in time, but an ongoing centuries-old campaign. We want to be a partner and ally to LGBTQ2 Canadians in the years going forward.”

That is why we have been and will continue to work hard to address issues impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, and two-spirit individuals.

I am deeply proud of what the government has accomplished to date and of the work that is still ongoing. Just over a year ago, the Prime Minister named the hon. member for Edmonton Centre as his special adviser on LGBTQ2 issues. An LGBTQ2 secretariat has also been established within the Privy Council to support government initiatives on these issues.

With the recent passage of Bill C-16, gender identity and gender expression are now prohibited grounds for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Bill C-16 also expands hate propaganda offences in the Criminal Code to protect identifiable groups that are targeted for their gender identity or expression. Another piece of legislation, Bill C-39, has been introduced to repeal section 159 of the Criminal Code.

Work is also under way to develop a long-term vision for blood services that ensures safety and non-discrimination in donation practices. In fact, the Minister of Health was instructed in her mandate letter to work with the provinces and territories toward that very goal.

The government is working toward adopting policies and practices that remove unnecessary collection of gender markings in government forms. We are also working to introduce an X gender designation on passport applications. This would ensure Canadians who do not identify as either male or female receive the same services and support as everyone else does.

The government also plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in 2019. It will do so by providing funding for initiatives that increase awareness of the people, actions, and struggles that led to that milestone.

For example, more than $770,000 in federal funding will be provided to the Egale Canada Human Rights Trust to support the “Legalizing Love: The Road to June 27, 1969” travelling exhibit project.

I am also proud to note that Canada is actively promoting LGBTQ2 rights on the international state, including as co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition.

Since 2014, we have provided $2.9 million in funding for projects that support violence prevention programs, awareness campaigns, and advocacy efforts in support of LGBTQ2 communities abroad. These include initiatives aimed to combat homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia in education systems.

In Canada, we know that LGBTQ2 youth have a disproportionately high rate of homelessness. According to a 2016 Statistics Canada study, while members of LGBTQ2 communities make up between 5% and 10% of our population, they represent between 25% to 40% of our homeless youth. A new and unique facility, currently under construction in Toronto, will be exclusively dedicated to serving this very vulnerable group. The Egale Centre will offer transitional and emergency housing, as well as counselling services, for homeless LGBTQ2 youth.

Last week, the government announced just over $47,800 in federal funding to help improve the Egale Centre's security. The funding will be used for the installation of security cameras and access control systems. The enhanced security measures will mean greater peace of mind and a safer and more secure facility, for the benefit of the Egale Centre's residents, staff and volunteers.

I am proud to stand with a government that is committed to protecting the fundamental human rights of all Canadians. All people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression must be able to live their lives free from stigma, violence, discrimination, or prejudice.

Sadly, as we know, there was a time in our history when the prevailing attitude to LGBTQ2 issues was very different from today. People could be criminally charged and convicted simply because of their sexual orientation. The could lose their jobs, their livelihoods, and their loved ones, or be barred from serving their country. They could be bullied, ostracized, and made a pariah by their own government.

The landmark bill we are discussing today is an important and necessary step toward righting the historical discrimination faced by LGBTQ2 Canadians for so many years. It is a key step we are taking, but is only one of many. It is in the context of a world in which calls for equality are slowly being answered.

Just yesterday, the legalization of same-sex marriage occurred in Australia. It joined countries like the U.K., Germany, and many others. They are also looking at making reparations for the historic discrimination that happened to the LGBTQ2 communities within their countries.

We remain in a world in which many LGBTQ2 individuals are still forced to live in fear, fear of being rejected, fear of being hated, fear of facing violence or even facing death, just because of who they love. Sometimes the gaps appear so far apart, they are like worlds we cannot bring together. However, as the proverb goes, a river cuts through rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence, and the calls for an inclusive world in which diversity can thrive are stronger and more persistent than ever. The apology that was given by all of the leaders in this House was demonstrative of that. The fact that we can come together as a House and be able to stand and acknowledge our part with respect to the wrongs of the past, as well as to be able to talk about the future we want, not only for our country but for all people across the world, about basic human rights, and the right as basic and as simple as being able to love the person that one loves without fear of reprisal, is something that we can stand for and propagate.

I am proud to introduce this bill. I urge all members to support it expeditiously.

LGBTQ2 CanadiansRoutine Proceedings

November 28th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats welcome and support today's apology. We join the government in acknowledging the harm that was done to the entire LGBTQ community, but especially the severe impacts that prejudice, discrimination, and persecution have had on individuals. We also want to honour today those many activists who resisted these campaigns and fought back against social prejudice. Today is the vindication of your struggles.

It is high time that we recognized that the careers and lives of thousands of Canadians were ruined, not only through the endemic discrimination, homophobia, and transphobia of the past, but also by government policies and campaigns to single out members of the LGBTQ community for persecution.

It could take several forms. There were countless criminal prosecutions for consensual same-sex activity. Special units were created in the Canadian Forces to ferret out gay and lesbian members and to drive them out of the Forces, either by forcing them to resign, by offering an honourable discharge for their co-operation, or by imposing various forms of less-than-honourable mentions on those who were hounded out.

There was even a secret committee of senior public servants and RCMP officers in Ottawa who sometimes met weekly to conduct a campaign of dismissals from the public service and the RCMP.

Despite the fact that consensual same-sex activity had been legalized in 1969, with the support of both the Liberals and the NDP, these government activities targeting the LGBTQ community continued well into the nineties. Anyone who doubts the relentlessness of these campaigns has only to read Gary Kinsman's book, The Canadian War on Queers, for the proof that these campaigns had devastating consequences: careers cut short, and family and social lives ruined because of the impact of being outed as a result of a firing or an arrest.

As time went on, members of the LGBTQ community began to resist. Long-serving New Democratic member of Parliament Svend Robinson worked tirelessly for change as the first, and for many years only, openly gay member of Parliament in the House of Commons. Among all the issues he tackled, perhaps most significant was his success in having sexual orientation added to the hate crimes section of the Criminal Code with a private member's bill that became law in 2004.

Let us also remember that James Egan and John Nesbit fought in the courts for recognition of equal spousal pension rights, and won, when sexual orientation was added to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a prohibited ground for discrimination by the Supreme Court in 1995.

Some 25 years ago this October, a very brave member of the Canadian Forces, Michelle Douglas, challenged her dismissal from the forces in court and won a judgment outlawing dismissal from the Canadian Forces on the basis of sexual orientation.

This apology, nearly 25 years after the end of the discharges from the military and the firings from the public service, and 50 years after the legalization of same-sex activity, comes none too soon for those who were its victims.

Simply the idea of an apology has been on the agenda for a very long time. Long-time NDP member Libby Davies, the first openly lesbian woman in this House, tabled a motion over three years ago calling for a meaningful apology for those fired from the public service.

Today we should also acknowledge the work of those who helped make this apology possible, especially the advisory council that worked with the government to get this apology before us today and the activists from We Demand an Apology Network and Egale's Just Society Committee, which not only made the case for justice but kept up the pressure on the government to act.

Most of all we should thank those survivors of the anti-LGBTQ campaigns who have come forward to tell their heart-wrenching stories yet one more time.

Apologies are in themselves a form of justice. The New Democrats are pleased that the apology was delivered today by the Prime Minister and inserted into the House of Commons record. The New Democrats were afraid that today there would be only an apology, without any mention of restitution. We were pleased to see movement on the part of the government in recent days to include measures that begin to deal with the substance of the harms for which the apology was given.

The New Democrats are committing today to work with the government to ensure that this legislation is passed quickly by the House and that it is exhaustive. We are also committing to continue working with the LGBTQ community to ensure that the legislative changes will become a daily reality, since there is still too much work to be done in terms of justice for the LGBTQ community.

We hope that today will mark a true change of gears for the government on LGBTQ issues, and that it will bring about a renewed climate of co-operation on these issues in Parliament.

New Democrats are also pleased to hear that the government has reached an agreement in principle with the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against the government. The lawsuit sought restitution for specific harms to individuals resulting from the government's campaign of firings from the public service, the RCMP, and the Canadian Forces. While the damage suffered was never limited to just financial losses, just compensation is an important part of any effort toward restorative justice.

We acknowledge the openness the Minister of Justice showed in working with the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke on passing his former private member's bill as a government bill.

There is still much to do to change government policies and practices so they honour the new legislated right to be free from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. Let us get to work, starting today, with transgender and gender variant Canadians on implementing Bill C-16.

When it comes to ending the legal discrimination against the LGBTQ community, there is no question as to what needs to be done.

We are pleased today to see the introduction of a bill to expunge the criminal records of gay men who engaged in consensual sexual activity with same sex partners. However, it is not as though we do not know what such a bill might look like.

Philip Toone, an NDP MP from Quebec during the last Parliament, introduced such measures in 2014 under private member's business. Similar measures were introduced that same day by way of apology by the Australian government in Queensland, by New Zealand, and by Scotland.

Measures to counter this injustice should have been in place decades ago. We must not forget that this bill is not only symbolic. Every day, gay men with unjust criminal records are prevented from travelling or volunteering, and face discrimination when it comes to employment.

We hope to see authorization to proceed in addressing the cases of those kicked out of the Canadian Forces with something less than fully honourable discharges. After all, more than a year ago, the national defence committee unanimously approved a motion from the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke calling on the Minister of Defence to authorize the military ombudsman to begin revising the service records of those who were driven out of the Canadian Forces based on who they loved. We understand that aspects of dismissals from the forces will be covered in the settlement of the class action law suit, but the revision of service records still needs to happen.

The NDP welcomes the government's promise to move forward with removing section 159 from the Criminal Code, a section under which the age of consent for anal intercourse is different than it is for heterosexual relations.

Although the government introduced a bill to that effect, it has been held up at first reading stage for several months. A similar bill was already introduced in the House in the last Parliament, in 2014, by former NDP MP Craig Scott.

There is, of course, one sense in which this apology risks ringing hollow. That will be if this Parliament fails to act expeditiously to end discriminatory laws and policies that continue to penalize and stigmatize the LGBTQ community. As some have said, this would be a good time to stop doing things the government might have to apologize for in the future.

The discriminatory gay blood ban remains in place, despite the fact that almost every health professional agrees that there is no science behind the ban. This is a policy that not only stigmatizes gay men but continues to restrict the supply of blood and organs at a time when the need is so great.

Members of the LGBTQ community have waited decades for our government to acknowledge the systemic nature of the injustices perpetrated against their community.

Therefore, today is an important day marked by an apology presented on behalf of all Canadians and the government's commitment to make amends.

What we have acknowledged today is that the injustices perpetrated against, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Canadians by the government were both egregious and systemic.

New Democrats hope that today will mark more than simply turning the page on this regrettable part of our history. Instead, this apology should be the springboard for action both here in Parliament and in Canadian society. We must begin by removing the last vestiges of institutional discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, and transgender Canadians. We must also eradicate the prejudice that lives in our communities and affects our siblings, children, parents, friends, and neighbours.

From Svend Robinson to Libby Davies to the members for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke and Saskatoon West, and so many more, the NDP consistently stood with the LGBTQ community and followed its lead on these vital civil rights issues. It is our hope that all Canadians take today as an opportunity to move forward and continue to build the inclusive, accepting country that we all know we can be.

Human RightsOral Questions

November 27th, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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Ahuntsic-Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Mélanie Joly LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, as I said already in French, all Canadians should be safe to be themselves, free from discrimination of any kind.

We have already made significant progress in this House on these issues with Bill C-16 and Bill C-39. Our special adviser on LGBTQ2 issues, the MP for Edmonton Centre, has been working with the community concerning the different issues that affect them in their everyday lives.

We have committed to apologize in an inclusive and meaningful manner tomorrow. Our government is working with a national advisory committee representing the community, to make sure that these excuses are—

Human RightsOral Questions

November 27th, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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Ahuntsic-Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Mélanie Joly LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, all Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, free from discrimination. We have already made significant progress on these issues with Bill C-16 and Bill C-39.

Our special adviser on LGBTQ2 issues, the member for Edmonton Centre, has been consulting extensively with the community to ensure that we give a full and meaningful apology.

We are committed to making this formal apology tomorrow, November 28. Our government is working with the national advisory committee representing the community to make sure that this is a full apology.

Human RightsOral Questions

November 9th, 2017 / 2:55 p.m.
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Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism)

Mr. Speaker, all Canadians should be safe to be themselves, love whom they choose, and be free from discrimination of any kind.

We have already made significant progress on these issues with Bill C-16 and Bill C-39. Our special adviser on LGBTQ2 issues, the member for Edmonton Centre, has been working hard and consulting broadly with the community to ensure that when an apology happens, it will be thorough and complete. That applies to veterans who are LGBTQ as well.

Funds have been allocated for things like the expungement of records. We will be addressing the issues of veterans.

Transgender Day of RemembranceStatements By Members

November 9th, 2017 / 2 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, today we are hearing many moving statements on Remembrance Day, but this afternoon I rise to mark another day of remembrance: the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20. People in communities across Canada and around the world will be remembering victims of transphobic violence and rededicating themselves to working to end discrimination against transgender and gender-variant people.

Last year there were 317 reported murders of trans people, and many more were victims of violence and discrimination. This includes the murder of Sisi Thibert in Montreal, on September 19. Despite hopeful signs that came this week with the election of several transgender people to public office in the United States, there have still been 23 murders of transgender Americans so far this year.

On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, we in Canada can point to Bill C-16, which guarantees the same rights and protections in law that all other Canadians already enjoy, but it is clear that much more remains to be done to build a more inclusive Canada, one where transgender and gender-variant Canadians can participate fully, on an equal basis, and without fear.

Canadian Jewish Heritage MonthPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Michael Levitt Liberal York Centre, ON

moved that Bill S-232, An Act respecting Canadian Jewish Heritage Month, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to be here today as we consider Bill S-232, an act respecting Canadian Jewish heritage month, and I am honoured to be the sponsor of this bill in the House.

I want to acknowledge Senator Linda Frum, who has partnered with me in introducing this bill, which received unanimous support in the other place. I hope today to convince members of the chamber to give it the same enthusiastic support.

I want to particularly thank the hon. members for Thornhill and Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke for their strong multipartisan support of this bill. I also want to take a moment to recognize the efforts of my friend and mentor, the Hon. Irwin Cotler, whose tireless work as a defender of human rights is a badge of honour for the Canadian Jewish community. Professor Cotler originally introduced the substance of this bill as a motion in 2015. As I stand here today, I want to dedicate my efforts in bringing this bill before the House to Irwin Cotler's honour.

Aaron Hart, widely regarded as the first Jewish Canadian, settled in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, in 1760. In the more than 250 years since then, Jewish Canadians have been deeply involved in building this wonderful country that we are also privileged to call home. Whether coming to Canada in search of economic opportunity, freedom from persecution, or in service to the crown, Jewish Canadians from St. John's to Victoria to Yellowknife have played an active role in the unfolding Canadian story.

The early Jewish immigrants came predominantly from western and central Europe, followed in the late 19th century by increasing numbers of eastern Europeans. Approximately 20,000 Holocaust survivors made it to Canada, followed by Jewish refugees fleeing from the Middle East and North Africa. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Jewish immigration from North Africa, particularly Morocco, brought many francophone Sephardic Jews to Quebec. This group is now a large portion of Montreal's Jewish population and a small but vibrant part of Toronto's Jewish community, including la Communauté Juive Marocaine de Toronto in my own riding.

Beginning in 1990, there was a significant Jewish migration to Canada from the Soviet Union, including the Russian Jewish community. Canada is home to nearly 60,000 Russian-speaking Jews, a thriving community represented by institutions like Toronto's Jewish Russian Community Centre. In 1983, my mother Edna and I left our home in Scotland to embark on, as she explained at the time, a great adventure. She brought me to Canada to build a better life and future for us both. Knowing barely a soul, we settled in Toronto because she knew there was a thriving Jewish community that would welcome us and provide us with the support we needed.

I am a proud Canadian, I am honoured to represent the people of York Centre in this House, and I am a proud Scottish Jew, a member of a small but mighty clan whose tartan I proudly wear here today. In many ways, the diversity of Jewish Canadians mirrors the mosaic of our broader Canadian society, each of us bringing with us our own customs and traditions and making Canada even better because of it.

Today I stand in this house as the member of Parliament for York Centre. I stand on the shoulders of the dedicated, brave, and committed Jewish men and women who paved the way before me. It is in their merit that I encourage all members of this House to support this bill.

One of the most inspirational Jewish Canadians for me was the Hon. David Croll, who served as the Liberal member of Parliament representing the riding of Toronto—Spadina for a decade following World War II before being appointed Canada's first Jewish senator. Mr. Croll came to Canada when he was six years old, his family fleeing the pogroms of czarist Russia. Through hard work selling newspapers and polishing shoes, he was able to put himself through law school. In 1930, at the height of the Great Depression, Croll was elected mayor of Windsor, the first Jewish mayor in Ontario, where he instituted welfare programs for the jobless and the poor. Croll became a member of the provincial Parliament in 1934, where he served as Minister of Labour and Minister of Public Welfare, the first Jewish Canadian to be a minister of the crown.

In the first days of the Second World War, Mr. Croll enlisted with the Essex Scottish, one of more than 17,000 Jewish Canadians who answered the call to serve.

As a federal parliamentarian, Croll championed a range of social issues, from health care to pensions, from tax credits for the poor to prohibiting discrimination.

One of his greatest achievements, in my view, was in pushing for the opening of Canada's immigration regime. Between 1933 and 1948, under Canada's notorious “none is too many” policy, only 5,000 Holocaust refugees were admitted to Canada—the fewest of any western country. The most egregious example of this misguided policy happened in 1939 when Canada turned away the MS St. Louis. There were more than 900 Jewish refugees on board, seeking sanctuary here in Canada. They were turned away and forced to return to Europe, where 254 died in the Holocaust. We cannot turn away from this uncomfortable truth and Canada's part in it.

In 1949, however, Canada admitted 11,000 Jews—more than any other country, other than Israel.

Nate Leipciger is one of the survivors who came to Canada. Seventy-three years after having survived the lowest point of his life, Nate returned to Auschwitz, this time as the highest point in his life. He came back by invitation to guide and teach his Prime Minister, the head of government of his adopted country, about the horrors he endured and the lessons we must never forget. He described his return to Auschwitz last year with the Prime Minister as “triumphant”. He said, “They gave me a one-way ticket, but I returned with my wife, daughter and granddaughter and the prime minister.” He came full circle, from dehumanized to sharing some of the most poignant human moments, shedding tears with the Prime Minister.

We as Canadians must remember the lessons taught by history from this awful period. Monuments like the national Holocaust memorial, soon to be opened in Ottawa, and local ones like the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial at Earl Bales Park in Toronto form part of the legacy of survivors and their families. They came to Canada and became Canadians in their own right. Their stories are our stories as Canadians.

I am proud that my riding became home to so many Holocaust survivors, emerging from the ashes of Europe to begin building new, vibrant lives here in Canada.

Pola and Zalman Pila were two of them. They both survived the death camps and death marches and were reunited after liberation, the sole survivors of their families. They arrived in Toronto soon after, penniless, not speaking English, a married couple with an infant son. With little formal education, they worked day and night to make a life for their children and later their grandchildren. They took the shattered remnants of their lives and with faith, love, and determination built an inspiring future. Pola delivered food right to the doorsteps of those in need, visited the sick, and provided financial assistance to all who asked. Her contributions and the contributions of Jewish women to Canada have been tremendous.

Let us consider Bobbie Rosenfeld. She was known throughout the 1920s as the superwoman of ladies' hockey. In 1924 she helped form the Ladies Ontario Hockey Association, serving as its president until 1939. Rosenfeld won gold and silver medals at the 1928 Summer Olympics after setting multiple Canadian track and field records. She was also a trailblazer off the field, a strong advocate for women in sports. In 1950, Rosenfeld was voted Canada's female athlete of the half-century by The Canadian Press, which awards the Bobbie Rosenfeld Trophy to Canada's top female athlete every year.

I could go on listing the myriad contributions of Jewish-Canadian women like Tillie Taylor, the first woman to be appointed as a provincial magistrate in Saskatchewan, or Constance Glube, appointed the first female chief justice in Canada on the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in 1980, or Justice Rosalie Abella, who was born in a German IDP camp and became the first Jewish woman to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada.

However, it is not just the individual achievements that should be celebrated. Indeed, the Jewish contribution to Canada has often been greatest when it has come as the product of communal action and furtherance of a shared purpose.

In 1868, just one year after Confederation, the Toronto Hebrew Ladies Sick and Benevolent Society was established. With no paid staff and a budget of only a few hundred dollars, these visionary women built the foundation of what would become one of the leading family service agencies in North America, Jewish Family and Child. Based in York Centre, I have had the privilege of seeing first-hand how JF&C continues to have a positive impact on the lives of thousands of vulnerable Canadians from every background. JF&C upholds the Jewish value of tikkun olam, the idea that individuals are responsible not only for their own welfare but for the welfare of society at large.

It is one of several inspiring Jewish organizations in my riding that champion this ideal including B'nai Brith Canada, which can trace its roots to 1875; the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, the first Jewish women's organization in Canada founded in 1897; and Canadian Hadassah-WIZO and the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, which are both celebrating 100 years of life-changing contributions to Canadian society.

These stories have played out in communities big and small across Canada. I am certain that every member of the House from every province and territory can point to the role that Jewish Canadians play in their communities. As celebrated as these stories are, a darker undercurrent of Canadian Jewish heritage must also be acknowledged. Canada has sadly not been immune to anti-Semitism, a scourge that remains stubbornly in our midst.

On June 13, Statistics Canada released hate crimes data for 2015. Jewish Canadians were once again the most targeted religious minority in the country. As a Jewish Canadian, I find this data to be doubly concerning. Throughout history, the level of anti-Semitism has been a fairly accurate barometer of the overall condition and health of a society. An attack against Jews or any minority is an attack on everyone.

In the face of this persistent problem, we must join together, and state unequivocally that when it comes to incidents of hate and discrimination in Canada, we cannot abide hate and prejudice being targeted against any group. Jewish Canadians have always been at the forefront of standing up and fighting against hate and discrimination.

Consider Canada's first Jewish parliamentarian, Ezekiel Hart, who in 1832 was instrumental in Quebec becoming the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to accord full political rights to Jews, 26 years before Great Britain. This commitment to universal equality, and the fight against hate and discrimination remains a core priority for Jewish Canadians and for me personally, standing here today as a result of Ezekiel Hart's activism.

It being pride month, I want to recognize the efforts of Kulanu Toronto, the voice of the Jewish LGBTQ community in Toronto. I had the honour of attending its pride shabbat dinner last week, a celebration of the Jewish LGBTQ community. This pride month, we can also celebrate Bill C-16, yesterday receiving royal assent affirming and protecting gender identity and expression under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and under hate crime sections of the Criminal Code. I am proud of the active role the Jewish community played in advancing this important legislation. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs served on the steering committee of Trans Equality Canada, a coalition that has worked tirelessly to see this initiative succeed.

The stories I have shared here today are Canadian stories. The values they reflect are Canadian values. The enactment of Canadian Jewish heritage month will ensure that the historic and ongoing contributions of Jewish Canadians are recognized, shared, and celebrated across this great country, cementing their legacy and inspiring future generations to build a better Canada. I encourage my hon. colleagues in the House to support this bill.

JusticeOral Questions

June 19th, 2017 / 2:45 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am incredibly proud of the work our government is doing.

In Canada we embrace diversity and inclusion. We have to ensure that everybody has the freedom to be who they are. That is why I am incredibly proud that the Senate passed Bill C-16 last week. I look forward to it receiving royal assent and adding to the Canadian Human Rights Code a prohibition against gender identity and gender expression.

We are doing more. We are looking at historic records and the expungement of them for unjust laws. In this month of pride, I want to celebrate and applaud the—

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

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

I'm fully supportive and cognizant of the issues and concerns that transgender people have when they cross the border, but by the same token, I'm a little worried about making changes here without the opportunity to get a definition of “gender” put into the.... I think we're stepping a little outside of what we want to be doing here in terms of the legislation.

Also, if sex is used in the agreement, the last thing I want would be to give a reason to go back and have to get the agreement renegotiated over changing a term that we're going to have to change when Bill C-16 is passed anyway. There'll be a complete review of all of this legislation so it will be changed when C-16 is passed. Is that correct?

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

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

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

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

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

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

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

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

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

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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

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

PrideStatements By Members

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

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

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

James Maloney Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

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

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

Pride MonthStatements By Members

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

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

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

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

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

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and BiphobiaStatements By Members

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

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

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

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

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

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

Gender Equality Week ActPrivate Members' Business

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

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Thank you, Minister, for coming to the committee.

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

I have two questions for you.

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

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

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

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

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

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

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

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

Liberal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

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

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good morning. Thank you, Madam Chair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

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

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

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

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

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.

March 9th, 2017 / 8:45 a.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Thanks for that intervention. It still doesn't change the fundamental fact that this is an opportunity for Parliament and for us to add an amendment. In fact, I have a subamendment to my amendment, which will be coming up. It actually uses language that was passed by this House of Commons, including the government members and the parliamentary secretary, most recently on Bill C-16, that outlines a specific element of diversity.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today to speak to Bill C-23 and to argue in support of the reasoned amendment by my colleague, the member for Beloeil—Chambly. His amendment instructs the House to decline to give second reading to the bill because of several important reasons, which I will be happy to explore later in my speech.

I also want to note that it is very unfortunate we are conducting this debate today under a time allocation passed by the Liberal government earlier today.

The tone of this debate on the legislation has heated up considerably over the past few days during which it has been debated. In particular, there have been some misleading and grossly exaggerated statements from Liberal members of Parliament. There has been a general mischaracterization of the NDP's concerns, combined with over-the-top and fiercely partisan attacks, which have at times sunk this debate to a new low.

I hope to raise the tone of this debate with reasoned arguments against letting Bill C-23 pass at second reading.

Let me make one point perfectly clear. The New Democrats are in favour of measures that will facilitate fluid movement across the U.S. border, but not at the expense of human rights, respect for privacy of Canadians, and Canada's sovereignty.

I support pre-clearance as it currently operates. In fact, I have used the service several times in my life at the Vancouver International Airport when travelling to the United States, and it certainly works well as it currently exists.

I understand that pre-clearance is an important part of the Canada-U.S. relationship and to the free flow of trade and travellers between our two countries, but the provisions contained in Bill C-23 are too problematic for me to give my support.

Bill C-23 neglects to take into account the climate of uncertainty at the border following the discriminatory policies and executive orders of the Trump administration. Canada and the United States signed the agreement on land, rail, marine, and air transport preclearance on March 16, 2015, under the previous Harper government.

Bill C-23 was introduced by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on June 17, 2016. There was little fanfare at the time, as Parliament was more consumed by Bill C-14's progress through the Senate, and we were certainly all looking forward to the upcoming visit of then President Obama and his address to the House of Commons, which I think we can all agree was a tremendous speech.

The times have changed dramatically since that time, and they provide an even starker contrast to the reasons why this bill is so problematic. The Liberals are moving ahead with the agreement signed under Obama's presidency as if everything was simply business as usual. However, we must take into account the change in U.S. leadership.

The legislation was problematic before the inauguration of President Trump, but recent discriminatory orders and invasions of privacy now leave no doubt about the potential dangers and abuses that will result from the agreement. This is a president who excels at making statements with no empirical evidence to back them up. The most recent example is his shocking allegation that former President Obama ordered wiretaps on his phone during the election.

This man has little understanding of what a warrant is, of the checks and balances of the United States system, the constitution, and he has undermined the judiciary of the United States on repeated occurrences.

The U.S. customs and border protection agency is the largest federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security. It is an extremely powerful arm of the executive branch of government, but it is now headed by someone who I do not think is fit for that office.

Agencies take their cue from the people at the top. This is a fact. Bill C-23 is proposing to give more power to foreign agents that are lead by an administration that routinely uses fear, lies, and personal attacks on its political opponents to advance its agenda. I cannot, in good conscience, support such a bill.

The third point I wish to address are the increased powers that Bill C-23 would provide for U.S. officers on Canadian soil, provisions regarding carrying of firearms, the power to conduct strip searches, detention, and interrogation.

In particular, I feel strongly that it is unacceptable to see officers of a foreign country who are in a position of authority bear and ultimately use firearms in the performance of their duties on Canadian soil. As is provided for in the summary of the bill, part 3 of the enactment makes related amendments to the Criminal Code to provide the United States pre-clearance officers with an exemption from criminal liability under the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act with respect to carriage of firearms and other regulated items. Bill C-23 would violate our precious Canadian sovereignty by increasing the powers of American pre-clearance officers on Canadian soil with respect to carrying firearms and by not properly defining a criminal liability framework.

There are those within the Liberal and Conservative ranks who dismiss this concern or see it as simply irrelevant. In fact, repeated speakers from the Liberal Party have used rather poor reasoning, in that U.S. agents would only be granted firearms if their Canadian counterparts were similarly armed in the same area. This sidesteps the issue and avoids the question as to why this measure is necessary.

I fully realize that with the combined Liberal and Conservative support for the bill, it is most definitely going to pass second reading. The troubling thing for me is that not one Liberal or Conservative MP has bothered to raise any concerns about this erosion of Canadian sovereignty.

The Liberals like to call themselves the party of the charter, but not one of them has addressed Canadians' concerns about being interrogated, detained, or turned back at the border based on race, religion, travel history, or birth place, as a result of policies that may contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Liberals have also failed to speak up about the lack of provisions protecting the rights and freedoms of transgendered persons during strip searches, in spite of the government's support for Bill C-16.

The Conservatives like to wrap themselves in the flag, and they talk a good game when it comes to protecting our border and our sovereignty, but not one of them has stood to address the fact that we would be giving more powers to agents of a foreign government on Canadian soil.

The final point I want to make is that Canada Border Services agents and the RCMP are filled with great men and women, who do their job in a most capable way every day. They are required to take the oath of allegiance before they can assume their duties as uniformed officers. Allegiance is given to the crown and other institutions that the sovereign represents within the federal and provincial spheres, including the state, its constitution, and traditions. On the other hand, U.S. customs and border patrol agents give their oath of allegiance to the United States Constitution and promise to faithfully discharge their duties in the office that they are about to enter, which is fully an institution of the United States government. This is the crux of the problem. United States officials operating on Canadian soil owe their allegiance to a foreign government, and yet we are prepared to give them powerful new measures, such as carrying firearms on our sovereign soil.

I think that borders matter and that they certainly need to be treated with respect. Also, sovereignty matters and precedents matter. Therefore, I think this is a slippery slope. If we pass Bill C-23, if we allow agents of a foreign government to operate on our soil in this matter, what more demands will be presented at a future instance from the United States government?

All I ask hon. members to do is pause and think about the wishes of their constituents. Did their constituents send them to this place to pass legislation to give agents of a foreign government the power to carry firearms on Canadian soil? This is a real sticking point for me, and I know from the correspondence that I and many of my colleagues have received that this is a major concern. We will certainly be raising it at every opportunity that we can.

February 23rd, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Glenn Gilmour

As you know, Bill C-16 refers to both gender identity and gender expression. To the extent that this bill only refers to gender identity, it is inconsistent with current legislation in the Senate, which has been already approved by the House. I'm certain that the government is aware of this inconsistency.

February 23rd, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Exactly.

I'll follow up on Mr. Bittle's point and then get to Mr. Cooper. In 1995, gay people couldn't get married in this country and there were no rights for transgendered individuals whatsoever. Perhaps our view today that the right of the gay community to feel safe going into its buildings is the same as the right of a religious community to go into its buildings, or the right of a racial community to go into its buildings. So the rationale may have changed because the way hate crimes today happen may have changed, and our view of the rights of those groups may have changed, which is why we're dealing with Bill C-16 in the first place.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts.

Mr. Cooper.

February 23rd, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
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Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Glenn Gilmour

My reply to that would be, I suppose, in part related to Bill C-16,, the bill currently before the Senate on expanding not only the definition of “identifiable group” but that would also amend the hate crime sentencing provision in the Criminal Code to add both gender identity and gender expression to that provision. In that sense, the hate crime sentencing provision, once Bill C-16 is passed, would reflect current thinking by Parliament on the need to protect groups that had not been specifically singled out for protection before.

The other part I would mention is that Bill C-305 only focuses on mischief committed against various groups when that is motivated by hatred. It does nothing to focus on violence against persons when that violence is motivated by hatred based on various criteria, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The way the current law works is that, for those kinds of incidents, say assault or assault causing bodily harm, the sentencing provision in the Criminal Code, in 718.2(a)(i), is used to adequately denounce and punish such conduct, not Bill C-305.

February 23rd, 2017 / 8:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Madam Chair and distinguished members of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, I thank you for this opportunity to speak on my private member's bill, Bill C-309, an act to establish Gender Equality Week.

It's a great honour for me to appear before you today, not only in my capacity as the member of Parliament for Mississauga—Lakeshore, but also because, in my view, this is a real opportunity to have a profoundly positive impact on Canadian society.

Before elaborating, Madam Chair, I would like to take a moment to thank my team here in Ottawa and in my constituency for their dedicated work in bringing this bill to where it is today.

Adrian Zita-Bennett is my executive and legislative assistant, and he did much of the heavy lifting on the consultation and the development of the text of this bill. My amazing team in the constituency office—Dulce Santos, Hanan Harb, Leslie Peres, and Kyra Brennan—engaged our community in Mississauga—Lakeshore and supported us each step of the way.

Madam Chair, I would also like to thank Strength in Stories, which is a grassroots organization that helped to inspire this bill, and particularly its co-founder, Rachelle Bergen.

In addition, local and national stakeholders such as non-profit organizations, women's shelters, and all levels of government provided feedback that was critical in developing the preambular paragraphs of this bill.

My team and I felt that making frank and compelling mention of the full scope of gender-based inequalities that persist in Canada was an essential step to ensure that gender equality week will be effective in delivering two things: national engagement and prospective solutions.

The reason for this, Madam Chair, is simple. Solving any given problem first requires full recognition of the existence of the problem and of its scope. We need to be able to call problems by their names and be frank and open when tackling the challenges that we continue to face.

I am sure the members of this committee are not at all surprised to hear stakeholders tell them we still have a lot of work to do to create a more gender-equality-based society. I would like to cite some facts that reinforce that perception.

In the Global Gender Report it has published every year since 2006, the World Economic Forum reveals the scope of existing gender gaps and the efforts being made to close them, particularly in the fields of health, education, economic participation, economic prospects, and political empowerment. According to the 2016 report, which the forum published last October, Canada ranks 35th out of 144 countries, between Luxembourg and Cape Verde, but 1st in North America.

Madam Chair and distinguished members of the committee, we, as Canadians, must also acknowledge that the wage gap between men and women undermines our economy and the global economy. People around the world increasingly recognize that gender inequality is a major stumbling block.

According to a report the Royal Bank published in 2005, the lost income potential of Canadian women due to the wage gap is about $126 billion a year. A report published by the UBS financial services corporation last October states that global economic performance would rise by £10 billion if the wage gap between men and women were closed. Similarly, according to a report issued by the McKinsey Global Institute in September 2015, promoting gender equality would add £12 billion to global GDP by 2025.

Gender equality week can work to achieve what more and more international organizations and governments around the world are advocating: that the elimination of gender gaps will lead to strong and lasting economic benefits. As a 2013 International Monetary Fund report on women's participation in the global labour market put it, “The challenges of growth, job creation, and inclusion are closely intertwined.”

Here in Canada, gender-based inequalities have become ingrained in the fabric of our society, and if we do not address them directly, they will continue to persist.

Canadians of minority gender identity and expression are often faced with these challenges in an even more profound manner, and on the predicament of indigenous Canadians, Madam Chair, a 2015 RCMP report outlines that indigenous women make up just over 4% of our population and yet account for 16% of female homicides and 11% of missing Canadian women.

The acknowledgement of these outcomes goes far beyond partisan affiliation. All of us bear some responsibility in a society that categorically and systematically treats and values genders differently.

In short, if we truly seek to address these challenges, a pivotal first step is to recognize them frankly and understand them fully.

Second, the federal government cannot solve these problems by itself. Gender equality requires awareness and engagement on the part of all Canadians. To be clear, I'm very proud of the leadership of our Prime Minister and the federal government, who are working to address systemic gender-based gaps that have shaped Canada since Confederation.

The Prime Minister has achieved gender parity in cabinet for the first time in the history of Canada. Also for the first time, he appointed a woman as Leader of the Government in the House and a female minister who will focus exclusively on gender equality issues.

The Canadian government has launched an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, and the Minister of Status of Women is developing a national strategy to combat gender-based violence. The government has also begun to implement the gender-based analysis plus tool, or GBA+, in all federal government organizations to ensure the aspects of this issue are taken into consideration in all government programs, policies, and statutes.

The Canadian government has tabled Bill C-16, currently being debated in the Senate, which protects Canadians who belong to minority groups distinguished by gender identity or gender expression by adding gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination as defined in 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 Viola Desmond, a Nova Scotian businesswoman and civil rights champion, will be the first woman to appear on a Canadian bank note.

Internationally, Canada has done its share as part of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and vigorously supports the HeForShe solidarity campaign launched by that organization.

Once again, I tip my hat to the leadership of our Prime Minister and the Canadian government in promoting gender equality.

But, Madam Chair, this is a cause on which all Canadians must lead. This is the thrust of the bill before you today. Government cannot do this work alone, and the mere passing of legislation without public recognition of and engagement with the challenges we face will be insufficient.

You may rightly wonder what exactly an annual gender equality week might look like. Each year across the 338 federal ridings in our country, gender equality week can inspire girls, boys, men, women, and those of minority gender identity and expression to take part in a dialogue to establish a more inclusive society. If we work together, Madam Chair, we can find solutions.

As parliamentarians we can use this designated week to deepen relationships and collaborate with our community leaders and advocacy groups. This work could take the form of community town halls and debates, research proposals, television and social media reports, fundraising initiatives, marches, arts and music, and other forms of advocacy. Through its emphasis on fostering local community-based dialogue on gender equality, we can also serve to strengthen current federal initiatives and communities across our country.

In my riding of Mississauga—Lakeshore, young people as well as seniors have participated in the development of the bill that is before you today. Members of our youth council have specifically expressed concern about the difficulties faced by women in entering and excelling in the workforce. Leaders in our community of seniors could play a big part in an annual gender equality week. They have seen first-hand how attitudes and policies have and have not changed with respect to gender equality, and their input would be critical to eliminating gender-based disparities, including poverty, for the next generation and beyond.

Madam Chair, our great country is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Canada has achieved so much since Confederation, yet on the issue of gender equality and equity, there's still so much more to achieve.

Bill C-309, An Act to establish Gender Equality Week, is an effort to raise collective awareness of existing gender-based inequality and to work toward the establishment of a more inclusive society.

We need to be able to identify problems in a frank manner and understand that governments cannot solve the issues alone. This is an effort on which we must all lead, and we have before us an opportunity to achieve real progress in our communities and across our country.

Thank you, Madam Chair. I look forward to the committee's questions.

February 21st, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
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Assistant Professor and Faculty Director, Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, University of Alberta, As an Individual

Dr. Kristopher Wells

Absolutely. I believe it has been said that it should parallel Bill C-16. As I mentioned, many people are targeted because of their gender expression, because they're not performing what it means to be societally acceptable as being a male or female. Or, what happens when you're gender diverse? That is a group of individuals who can be at some of the most extreme risks, as my colleague has mentioned.

As we're changing one part of the Criminal Code and we have the opportunity to be consistent, I think this is prudent. I think there's been a lot of conversation around this. The difference is that now I think we're getting a better understanding of gender identity and of what gender expression is and how they both create vulnerability in individuals who may operate outside of the male-female binary. We see this as more of a fluidity that's happening in our society.

As I always say, go to our students, to our young people, and go to Facebook. There aren't just two gender choices. There are over 50. As a professor who works in this area, I'll say that my students are my best educators on what is current in how they're identifying these days.

February 21st, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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Assistant Professor and Faculty Director, Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, University of Alberta, As an Individual

Dr. Kristopher Wells

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.

And to our colleagues who presented before, it's great to see the solidarity between communities talking about such an important issue of hate and bias in our country.

I believe that the proposed amendments to Bill C-305 are important to the preservation and protection of Canada's increasingly diverse, multicultural, and pluralistic identities, especially as we increasingly express and make visible our diverse identities and values directly through our public institutions.

As emphasized by member of Parliament Randall Garrison, I believe Bill C-305 should not only include sexual orientation and gender identity, but also gender expression, as prohibited grounds for the offence of mischief, which aligns with the current changes proposed by Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, which includes both gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Transgender individuals experience some of the highest rates of violence, discrimination, and prejudice in our society. Unfortunately, in Canada we have no way for law enforcement to track, charge, or specifically prosecute hate or discrimination that is motivated by gender identity or gender expression. Trans lives matter and are worthy of protection. This critical absence must be addressed.

It is vitally important to recognize and protect the LGBTQ community in similar ways as other cultural, racialized, or visible minority communities that are vulnerable to hate, prejudice, and discrimination because of an identifiable characteristic of a person. Much discrimination against LGBTQ people is based on their gender expression and the assumptions that are made as to what it means to be stereotypically male, female, or to be perceived as neither.

It has been said that homophobia and transphobia are one of the most powerful weapons of sexism, misogyny, and privilege in our society. LGBTQ individuals are often considered to be invisible minorities because they may not reveal their true identities unless they feel safe. This is why the LGBTQ community organizations, like pride or rainbow centres, and growing cultural celebrations, such as pride festivals, and specific LGBTQ-identified neighbourhoods or enclaves are all critically important safe spaces. These safe spaces are often visibly marked with rainbow flags to indicate inclusion, acceptance, and support. Indeed, it was a remarkable historic moment to witness the rainbow pride flag raised over Parliament Hill last June. This was a strong and visible signal to the world that Canada supports our LGBTQ communities both at home and abroad.

The challenge of the proposed amendments in Bill C-305 will be in establishing clear definitions as to what is meant by administrative, social, cultural, or sports activities or events. For example, many hate crimes and incidents happen in specific LGBTQ-identified neighbourhoods and at community or social events. Places like Church Street in Toronto, Davie Street in Vancouver, and Saint Catherine Street in Montreal all represent clearly identified and civically supported LGBTQ neighbourhoods.

Would these areas receive the same protection that is proposed by Bill C-305? I believe clarity is needed to ensure that these and other important community gathering places, such as pride festivals, which can draw tens of thousands, or in the case of Toronto and Montreal and Vancouver's pride festivals, hundreds of thousands of people.

Sadly, these celebrations of diversity also make them prime targets for hate and extremism. While mischief or crimes to property are one of the most common forms of hate crimes in Canada, most hate crimes against the LGBTQ community are not to property, but directly target individuals in the form of physical and sexual assaults and murder. Indeed, recent hate crime statistics indicate that of all the reported hate crimes committed in Canada, those targeting the LGBTQ community are among the most violent in nature and require serious medical attention. It's not one stab wound, but 40, as these individuals are not seen as persons, but as objects to be destroyed.

Sadly, only one in 10 hate crimes is ever reported to law enforcement. By attacking vulnerable individuals, most hate crimes are designed to instill fear and terror into entire communities. They strike at the very heart of what we believe an inclusive democracy should be, which is to live one's life openly, without threat or fear.

The proposed amendments to Bill C-305 raise several further questions. Will commercial spaces, such as LGBTQ-identified businesses, be protected under the legislation? Places like bars and nightclubs have been important and historic spaces of refuge and resistance for the LGBTQ community. In some cases they were the only safe spaces that existed in many communities.

Our modern pride movement is said to have emanated out of the police raids at the Stonewall Inn, an infamous bar in New York City. And now thanks to one of the final acts of president Obama, it has been recognized as the first national LGBTQ monument in the United States. Stonewall marked the beginning of a newfound source of community identity and activism. Those fateful riots in June of 1969 are the reason why many pride festivals are held around the world today.

The recent Pulse nightclub tragedy in Orlando, which took the lives of 49 innocent people and wounded 53 others, occurred in a gay-identified nightclub. This is another very recent and tragic example of the extreme hate and violence still directed at the LGBT community. There have been more than 25 documented directed attacks on LGBTQ-identified spaces, where people came to find community and love, but where they were met with hate and death.

Perhaps rather than the piecemeal amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada, all of which are well intended to address hate and prejudice, it's time for a different and more comprehensive approach. In Canada, law enforcement agencies still do not have a common operational definition of hate crimes, which causes challenges in police investigations, reporting, and the accurate collection of important national data. This is why there should be a specific hate crime section and universal definition included in the Criminal Code of Canada.

For example, a possible uniform definition might be this: A hate crime is an offence committed against a person or property, which is motivated in whole or in part to harm or instill hatred towards an identifiable group based on real or perceived race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.

The addition of a specific hate crime section in the Criminal Code of Canada, which could be in similar form to the current section on terrorism, section 83.01, and the education and application of this new hate crime section by police agencies and justice officials would ensure that Canada's diverse communities understand that our government not only advocates and supports peaceful co-existence between communities, but it also enforces the full extent of the law against hate-mongers and extremist groups whose goal is to attack diversity and difference and tear away at Canada's very social fabric.

While the proposed amendments to section 430 are important, hate is not only a crime against property. Rather it disproportionately impacts people, many of whom are the most vulnerable in our society. We must do more to protect and support our most vulnerable and marginalized communities. One look around the world shows us that hate and extremism are on the rise. The question is this. What will be our response to this growing threat? As we recently and tragically witnessed, Canada is not immune.

We must do more to protect our diverse communities. We must do more to give law enforcement the appropriate tools to adequately investigate, track, and prosecute hate-motivated crimes, regardless of whether they attack property or persons. It's time for us to have a much broader conversation about hate and extremism in Canada.

I hope this private member's bill will do just that.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.

February 21st, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Marceau, I was really glad to hear of the work and support you've given to Bill C-16 and my colleague, Randall Garrison and his work on that. I think we've identified that gender expression is missing from this bill.

I have one quick question for you. In section 718.2 of the Criminal Code, one of the aggravating factors is also sex. Do you think that should be included in this specific part?

I ask because in my riding I have a building, the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society. It's a women's organization specifically there to help women out of abusive relationships, and if someone were to target that building just because it is helping women, do you think that sex is a key element missing from section 4.1?

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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Conservative

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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Liberal

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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NDP

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.

Liberal

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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NDP

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

Liberal

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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NDP

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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Liberal

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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Liberal

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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Liberal

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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Conservative

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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Liberal

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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Conservative

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 communications...to 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.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 22nd, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise in support of Bill C-305, introduced by the member for Nepean.

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.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to be clear, as I said earlier today in the House, I am in support of Bill C-16, but what I am not in support of is due process not being followed.

There is an example here where they can say that the committee took its majority and basically decided to proceed. This is not the first time. It was also done on the national anthem.

I am against not following due process. This is my issue with respect to this amendment, and I wonder if the member could comment.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will focus my comments not on the content of this bill, Bill C-16, but rather on what I believe is a deeply flawed, undemocratic process that has returned this bill from the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to Parliament without hearing from any independent witnesses.

I am supportive of any initiatives that help protect persons from hate speech. I also absolutely agree that there can be no tolerance for bullying or violence of any kind for any reason. Parliamentarians and all Canadians have a responsibility to do their part to confront bullying, hate speech, and violence. My concern is that dissent of any kind will be construed as hate speech and could subsequently lead to Human Rights Tribunal hearings or, worse yet, criminal charges being laid. I am concerned that this bill would cause fear for many Canadians that they would not be able to even discuss public policy issues such as this one because they disagree with the government's imposed agenda.

I believe the government and the Minister of Justice directly owe Canadians a clear answer to the following question: What would the impact of implementing Bill C-16 be on immigrant groups and faith groups who may be at odds with gender fluidity concepts? Would they have the freedom to teach their children and practise their beliefs without being accused of hate speech or being accused of human rights violations? Yes or no?

Any law that limits legitimate discussion and debate of closely held beliefs presents a danger to freedom of expression, a fundamental value held dear by people across the political spectrum. The right to disagree is sacred to freedom in our society. It is the lifeblood of both new ideas and age-old protections. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 18, 1948, states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either...in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

For me and millions of other Canadians who acknowledge the supremacy of God, as the first words of our charter affirm, there is the reality that our faith journey is the foundation of our world view. Freedom of religion is a fundamental right, and so it is of paramount importance that Bill C-16 would not infringe upon that fundamental freedom. Today we are debating at third reading a bill that proposes some very fundamental changes to definitions and principles of society. The imposition of a fundamental values system change of this magnitude must be given complete due process here in Parliament.

The current government promised transparency, openness, and accountability. The Liberals assured Canadians that things would be done differently. All members of this House are aware that the normal course of action for a bill that passes on second reading is to send it to the corresponding committee for study, calling of witnesses for input on the content of the bill with the potential for changes or amendments to be made before it comes back for third reading, and a final vote by Parliament. Yet here we are asked to vote on a very substantive bill without the benefit of committee discussion notes or the transcription of witness input to inform our decision. The government has chosen to shortcut the democratic process; a different approach for sure but not what Canadians should expect or have to tolerate from their government. This is a total disrespect of due process.

Those who may see this issue differently are simply being shut out of the debate. Of all the places that should encourage dialogue and debate, certainly Parliament should be at the forefront. Yet here we are choosing not to have an honest debate for fear that we might somehow upset the politically correct apple cart.

We have unfortunately already witnessed this chill on free speech at the University of Toronto as Professor Jordan Peterson is under constant attack for his refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns. Medical experts have lost their jobs not because of scientific knowledge or experience but because their views are out of step with current thinking.

Irene Ogrizek of Montreal wrote:

If Canadians who believe that gender exists on a spectrum are free to choose their words and reality, Jordan Peterson, as someone who interacts with them, has a right to choose his words and reality too, however objectionable that concept of equality might seem. Allowing one group to use freighted words like homophobe or racist or rapist to tarnish an individual’s reputation without proof violates a principle of fairness that some of us hold dear. If hate-speech is to be expanded in our criminal codes, and in Canada that seems inevitable, I suggest we include the egregious misuse of these accusations too. If we are to take the idea of diversity seriously, we can do no less for those who are falsely maligned.

I ask this again. Will parents continue to have their right to teach their children in accordance with their deeply held faith beliefs or will they be subjected to accusations of hate speech for simply living out tried and true principles which are informed by their belief in the supremacy of God, as affirmed in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Will faith leaders who teach their congregations to follow the principles clearly laid out in God's word also be subjected to accusations of hate speech, or will they be free to continue to practise with freedom as the UN Declaration of Human Rights declares?

I now echo the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker, whose view of Canadian freedoms expresses what we should all hold dear:

I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.

In closing, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, be not now read a third time, but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for the purpose of reconsidering all of its clauses with the view to hearing from witnesses in relation to the impact of the bill on freedom of expression”.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for sharing wise words and support for a very important bill, which would grant human rights to all Canadians. Today we are talking about making sure that transgender and gender-variant Canadians receive the same protection as other Canadians.

I am wondering if my colleague might comment on the long road it has taken to get Bill C-16 here and why it is important at this time that the federal government take leadership. Perhaps she could share with us how speedily we can see this come forward and make a difference in people's lives.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 12:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour today to speak in support of Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, particularly because today we are on the eve of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is Sunday, November 20.

It is a day that gives us a chance to remember and reflect upon the discrimination that has been suffered and continues to be suffered in our country by the transgender community but also to give strength and think about how we go forward.

Today my heart has been warmed to hear the debate and the very non-partisan nature in which we have exchanged ideas. That helps to pave the way forward as we look at a bill such as Bill C-16.

Since I have taken my seat in this place, I have taken a lot of time to think about what it is I treasure about our country and about Canadian values. To me, it is being a safe and welcoming place and celebrating our diversity. The two are interconnected, because we cannot celebrate our diversity if we are not a safe and welcoming place. This bill helps us to become a more safe and welcoming place.

I grew up in the 1970s. There was a record that was very popular at the time called Free To Be You And Me. It said:

Don't dress your cat in an apron
Just 'cause he's learning to bake.

There were all sorts of other songs and poems, but the theme, the lesson for all of us, was that we all had the opportunity to grow up being true to ourselves and who we were and that no one should be defining us.

That is something that, as a parent today, I take very seriously. I want my children, all of our children, people growing up in this country, to know that they have that freedom. They should be comfortable and safe being true to who they are.

It goes to principles. An organization called Gender Spectrum states that a person's gender identity is “[o]ne’s innermost concept of self as male or female or both or neither—how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves”.

That is what we are talking about today. Bill C-16 creates a protection for gender identity and gender expression that helps pave the way. It states:

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

We have had some discussion about that today, and it has already been pointed out that this is not the first time this type of protection is being added to human rights codes. In fact, across our country, most of our provinces and territories have already adopted such protections. We are catching up federally. It is an important step we must take. Discrimination is still an issue, and it is something this legislation needs to address.

Trans Equality Canada has provided some statistics. The unemployment rate in Ontario for transgender people is three times the national average. Nationwide, from a survey of transgender youth, three-quarters of transgender youth have faced verbal harassment in school, and 37% have faced physical violence.

If we want to be that safe and welcoming place that I believe our country is and should be, then we need to step up and provide these protections.

The bill also makes amendments to the Criminal Code. It expands the Criminal Code prohibition against hate propaganda to include protections for gender identity and gender expression. It also requires sentencing judges to consider whether an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate based on gender identity or gender expression.

These amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code are particularly important, as I have said, as we lead into the Transgender Day of Remembrance and we take stock and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that this does not continue to happen.

Transgender Europe is a European advocacy group. They monitor violence against transgender communities and gender-diverse communities worldwide. From October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016, they recorded 295 murders. That is a tremendous number, and that is only what was reported and recorded. These are individuals who deserve our protection.

Bill C-16 is a first step in that direction. It is a first step for us federally to provide further protection.

I want to take a step back and acknowledge that it is not just legislation that is going to get us there. That has been mentioned in this place before. We are going to have to look at how we can be a safe and welcoming society. It is not just a matter of legislation, but it is a first step.

I want to acknowledge the work that is being done on the ground by so many people. I would like to begin by acknowledging the work that has been done by the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke on this issue. He has been working on it for a long time. It is important to have advocates who make sure that we keep working on issues.

My own community has the Triangle Program, which is Canada's only LGBTQ high school. It celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, which is really quite amazing. A member of my community, John Campey, helped to create that high school, and it is a safe and welcoming place.

Other individuals in my community work very hard. One is Susan Gapka. I am sure that Susan Gapka is watching closely as we continue this debate today. Another individual is Rachel Lauren Clark. These are two individuals who work fiercely to advance these issues.

We also have MCC Toronto, the Metropolitan Community Church. It works hard to build a safe place within a faith community.

There is a trans-resource education and advocacy team. I love that the acronym is TREAT. It creates an education network and an advocacy network for gender-diverse people and allies.

On Canada Day this year, I had the opportunity to go to the trans fair and see so many people taking on these roles. I have named some here today but there are many people who are working hard in our communities. They need to be honoured, because that is how we are going to make progress beyond having a bill, which as I said, is a first step.

Parliament has a poet laureate, George Elliott Clarke. I asked if he could write a poem to do with Bill C-16 and transgender and gender-diverse communities. He wrote quite a beautiful poem that really captures a lot of what we are talking about today.

I should mention that an excellent translation of the poem was done by Robert Paquin.

Today I will read the English version of the poem only.

Now, you and me and he and she and they
Are pronouns defining Humanity,
But they're not—really not—definitive:
For how we lean determines how we live.
Note that he is within she or that she
Includes he: fluid is identity;
Male is partly female, because female
Carries male. To whit, Gender's not a jail.
So, to be transgender is to be free
To be one's entire personality,
A chosen body, unfrozen from Fear,
Liberated from Custom, free to dare,
To wear what fits, not what suits restrictions,
And to be facts, not plausible fictions.
Transgender's transgressive because it frees
Masculine and feminine, as they please.

I would like to thank our poet laureate for that lovely poem that really summarizes a sentiment that I believe underscores Bill C-16 and why we need to move forward with this legislation.

It has been an honour to speak today in support of this legislation. I am hoping that we can stand up as a House and support this important step.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, given the track record of the bill, one has to not take anything for granted. I think most of us are empowered to feel that in this day and age, surely the Senate will move forward, that it will not look back at the House and not follow through on what I hope is the passing, finally, of Bill C-16. One does wonder, when a bill like this has gone through the House so many times and has not been passed by the Senate. My hope would be that finally the day will come and we will see equal human rights for all Canadians.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saskatoon West for the work she has done in this House on LGBTQ issues and for her support today for Bill C-16.

Earlier in one of the questions on the bill, the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski raised the question of two-spirited Canadians. I want to mention the conference taking place in my riding on the 25th and 26th, at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, called 2 Spirits, One Heart, One Mind, One Nation. It is a B.C. aboriginal youth conference.

What I have heard many times, and I am asking the member if she has heard the same thing, is that some of the most discriminated against people are in fact transgendered aboriginal Canadians. Quite often they have the worst employment situation, the worst housing situation, and the worst alternatives facing them.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak on an issue that is close to my heart. It is an issue that my colleague, the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, has fiercely dedicated himself to over the years. We just heard about the long struggle and fight he had. I am humbled to share my time with him today, and I want to formally thank him for fighting to include explicit protection for gender identity and gender expression in the Canada Human Rights Act.

I also want to add my tributes to the the groundbreaking work of former parliamentarians, Svend Robinson, Bill Siksay, and Craig Scott, all of whom were instrumental in bringing us closer to the inclusive society we want to create.

As the deputy critic for LGBTQ issues, I want to acknowledge the work that the government has done to bring this file forward. I applaud it for bringing this first critical step forward, with the introduction of Bill C-16.

Let me begin by reminding the House, as my colleague has, that this legislation should come as no surprise. Identical legislation has been presented numerous times to the House over the last five years, most recently in 2015, when the bill was left to die on the Senate's Order Paper at the time that the election was called.

This bill has been studied, reviewed, and, most importantly, it has been accepted by elected members of the last Parliament. Now Bill C-16 presents an opportunity for this government and this Parliament to show leadership at a time when our country and our global community needs it the most. We know that existing provincial patchwork legislation is not sufficient. We know that only seven of the 13 provinces and territories currently protect against discrimination based on gender expression and identity in their human rights codes. Canadians deserve swift federal action to provide leadership and to ensure protection in federal law against discrimination.

Earlier this year, people around the world witnessed the heartbreaking and gruesome events in Orlando. Words cannot convey how needless this tragedy was. The recent election in the United States, sadly, has given all of us even more reason to fear for our safety and our rights. May it serve as a heavy reminder that our global community remains unsafe for people who identify as LGBT or Q, and may we redouble our efforts to end bigotry and hatred.

Canada has an opportunity to show leadership within the international community. I suggest that we remember our responsibility as a signatory state to the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity. Let us affirm our commitment to these obligations and secure equal rights for trans and gender variant Canadians by adding gender identity and expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination under the Canada Human Rights Act.

As our country strives to be more inclusive, I will reflect upon the past, which unfortunately is riddled with instances of discrimination and violence toward the LGBTQ community. Thankfully, it is also full of tales of hope and resistance.

Not so long ago, on February 5, 1981, more than 250 gay men were arrested in Toronto for visiting bath houses. Many of those arrested in Operation Soap were publicly humiliated and faced lifelong repercussions as a result of this assault. I urge that we do not forget these dark moments in our history, as we forge our way forward to a future that is more fair and just for all Canadians.

In my riding and the surrounding area, we have a strong record of organization and activism around LGBTQ issues, from the Saskatoon gay liberation, led by Gens Hellquist in the 1970s; to Gay and Lesbian Health Services of Saskatoon, started in 1991, which continues its important work today as OUTSaskatoon; to the annual Breaking the Silence Conference, now in its 20th year, organized by education professor Don Cochrane at the University of Saskatchewan.

In 1999, Mount Royal Collegiate, a high school in my riding, was the first high school in the province to have a gay-straight alliance for students, spearheaded by teacher Patti Rowley. In June of this year, Beardy's & Okemasis First Nation held the first-ever Two-Spirit Pride Festival and parade on a first nation in Saskatchewan. We are lucky to have a robust history of community activism and work.

This activism has pushed governments to recognize the rights of the LGBTQ community, and has in many cases provided essential services to those who need them most. However, organizations and community activists alone cannot ensure that the rights of the LGBTQ community are respected. We need federal protections that explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender expression and identity. We need Bill C-16.

When the Minister of Justice introduced the bill, she noted that all Canadians should be safe to be themselves. I do not believe any one of us would disagree with that.

However, the hard truth of the matter is that not all people in Canada are safe to be themselves. Systemic discrimination toward the LGBTQ community persists across Canada, and perhaps most notably in our schools. LGBTQ students are three times more likely than heterosexual students to be bullied. Roughly 74% of trans students report having been verbally harassed about their perceived gender identity or sexual orientation, and nearly 40% of trans students report having been physically assaulted.

The bravery displayed by our young people who report physical and verbal assault after it happens is truly remarkable, but I am heartbroken, as many are, and utterly dismayed by the fact that seven out of 10 trans students are being harassed because of who they are.

It is not just young trans Canadians who desperately need a more compassionate Canadian society. Trans and gender variant Canadians of all ages face unique barriers.

Many Canadians are unable to secure identification that correctly reflects their gender identity, which in turn imposes severe restrictions on their mobility and limits access to essential services. Those who identify as trans or gender variant face a real struggle to earn a decent standard of living. They are discriminated against in the workplace and are often unemployed or underemployed.

We cannot stand idly by while such discrimination takes place in the workplace. In 2016, we need safe gender neutral spaces, including public washrooms. For Canadians who identify as trans or gender variant, this challenge can be at best a nightmare, or at worst, life threatening. It is unacceptable that so many Canadians face these challenges each and every day.

We must do better, and we can start by extending trans and gender variant Canadians the same rights and protections that all Canadians enjoy under the Canada Human Rights Act.

We have so much work to do in order to achieve the inclusive Canada we all envision. However, we have an exciting opportunity before us to make the lives of trans and gender variant Canadians better, by supporting Bill C-16. The bill is an important and critical step forward on a long, slow, but steady march forward in the struggle to enshrine in law equality for all.

Next week, on Sunday, communities all over Canada and around the world will pause on November 20 to observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance. On that day, we will remember and honour those who have died due to transphobia.

Let us not just remember, let us not just honour, but let us act. I urge the government to act, to pass this long overdue legislation without delay. I urge all members of this house to support Bill C-16 to ensure the protection of human rights for all Canadians.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 12:20 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I join this third reading debate on Bill C-16 today, I want to take this opportunity to mark the Trans Day of Remembrance, which will be taking place this Sunday, November 20. This year marks the 17th annual Trans Day of Remembrance, which memorializes trans people who have been murdered over the past year. This year we remember the more than 86 lives that were senselessly lost to transphobia and hate around the world and in Canada. We know that this number is only the tip of the iceberg and that there are thousands of instances of violence perpetrated against trans people every year that go unrecorded or unreported.

This Trans Day of Remembrance is not only a day to mourn but a day for trans people, their loved ones, and allies to come together and to grow our strength and resiliency on the road to ending transphobia once and for all.

As people come together this Sunday across Canada and around the world, I want them to know that here in this House we know trans people are still targets of violence and hate at undeniably troubling rates. We see the statistics about homelessness and suicide rates among trans and gender-diverse youth, we hear trans people when they say they still cannot access necessary health care, and we hear trans people on the importance of being able to access appropriate identity documents.

Passing Bill C-16, whether that's this afternoon or Monday, is just the start of working through the challenges that face trans and gender-diverse Canadians, but it is a vital first step. The federal government and its agencies will have to get busy making sure policies and practices respect the full and equal rights of transgender and gender-variant Canadians.

I will spare the House an extended metaphor about Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football, not only because of its rigid gender stereotypes but also because of its deeply embedded misogyny, where the problems of men are always caused by women, but nevertheless I have to use that analogy to say that the trans community is justifiably frustrated as we are now on the way to the third passage of this bill through the House of Commons. What other group of people in Canadian society has had to wait while this House of Commons passes three times a bill that would only recognize that they are entitled to the same rights and protections as all other Canadians?

Let me repeat the story of the journey of this bill through Parliament, hopefully for one last time.

This bill was first introduced by former NDP MP Bill Siksay in 2005. He reintroduced it again in 2007 and again in 2009. On this third attempt, although it took two years, in the spring of 2011, Bill actually saw his bill passed by the House, only to see it die in the Senate when an election was called.

When I was elected, I spoke with Bill, and he asked me to pick up that private member's bill, on behalf of the NDP caucus, and to take that struggle forward into what was a Conservative majority Parliament and, therefore, did not look very promising for the bill. I introduced my version of the bill on September 21, 2011. I stand here now more than five years after I began my attempt to get this bill through. The bill was passed through the House of Commons on March 20, 2013, with the support of I believe it was 19 members of the Conservative caucus at that time. That came as a bit of a surprise to many Canadians. Then it went off to the Senate and what was even more surprising is that, though the Senate had more than two years to deal with the bill, it failed to do so before the election was called. For a second time, a bill guaranteeing equal rights and protections to transgender and gender-variant Canadians died in the unelected Senate.

While this proposed legislation has been languishing before our federal Parliament, some progress has still been made. I would again say that I would like to think that the debate here in this House has helped bring forward progress elsewhere. In the meantime, nine provinces have adopted corresponding provincial human rights legislation. I have to say that in my second reading speech I miscounted, which proves one should use notes for these things, but we have seen corresponding provincial human rights legislation first in the Northwest Territories, then in Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia in 2012, Newfoundland and P.E.I. in 2013, Saskatchewan in 2014, Alberta in 2015, and British Columbia and Quebec this year.

The issue of trans rights is not a partisan issue. Amendments to protect against discrimination on the basis of gender identity were proposed by NDP governments in Alberta, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia, a Liberal government in P.E.I., and Conservative governments in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland. The amendments to their provincial human rights codes in Quebec, Ontario, and B.C. passed with all-party support.

Nor is progress on trans rights limited to the Canadian context, and I want to say again that we have lost a chance by our delays here in the House to be a leader around the world. Now, more than 18 countries have passed Canada up with explicit protections of the kind that are proposed in Bill C-16, and the list is surprising in its diversity.

These are not just the western European countries or North American countries. In fact, they reflect all cultures around the world. Argentina has in fact been the world leader in protection of the rights of transgender citizens and continues to be so. However, the list also includes Uruguay, Bolivia, Spain, France, Ireland, Estonia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Israel, Cypress, Nepal, Australia, and New Zealand, among others.

In the United States, 16 states plus the District of Columbia provide explicit protections for transgender residents, and there are some good signs amidst the gloom in the United States. The North Carolina governor, Pat McCrory, who had brought forward a bill to explicitly allow discrimination against the LGBT community, was defeated in those elections and largely over what was called House Bill 2, which would have really gone against the American tradition of acceptance, tolerance, and liberty by promoting discrimination against North Carolinians.

However, there is still some gloom. The President-elect Trump has promised to rescind Executive Order 13672 that President Obama put forward in 2014, which protected transgender and gender-variant Americans against workplace discrimination. Interestingly, at the time, Obama pointed out that he felt the U.S. government was lagging behind business in the United States, as almost all the Fortune 500 U.S. companies, the biggest 500 companies in the U.S., already had internal policies protecting transgender people against discrimination.

I have said before in speeches here that certain businesses in federal jurisdiction, in particular the TD Bank, have set an example of how to deal with employees if they go through a transition. The Canadian Labour Congress has produced guides for transition in the workplace that it has made available to all of its union members across the country.

Again, others have moved forward faster than we have here in this Parliament. In fact, today we are here 11 years after the first introduction of the bill, nearly five years after it first passed, and coming up on three years since it passed in the previous Parliament. However, some things have changed, and now in the recorded vote at second reading, we saw nearly half of the Conservative caucus join the Liberals and New Democrats in supporting the bill.

What has really changed? I would say the important change here is that it has become a non-partisan issue, and that is due to the work of transgender and gender-varied activists who have been very vigilant about contacting their members of Parliament and talking to them about their stories and why they need the support of their members of Parliament to make sure that their rights and dignity are respected in this country.

Far too many of these stories are indeed tragic, and I can spend a long time recounting them, but time is, of course, short today. I will just point out the study by Egale, published in 2011, called “Every Class in Every School” shows the severe impacts of transphobia on students in this country, where 90% of trans students reported hearing daily or weekly transphobic comments, and where 78% recorded feeling unsafe at school.

No, the bill does not directly affect schools, as they fall under provincial jurisdiction, but it tells us the size of the problem we face in combatting transphobia in this country.

This is the last remaining gap in Canadian human rights legislation, and I do look forward to it being filled by judicious and expeditious action by the new Senate. The transgender and gender-variant community in this country is asking for equal rights and dignity; the same rights and dignity that all other Canadians enjoy, nothing more, nothing less.

I look forward to the passage of Bill C-16 today or Monday, as I have said, and I am hoping the Liberal government can ensure its swift passage through the Senate.

As I mentioned, what other group has had to wait over a decade while the House of Commons passes legislation to affirm their rights three times? If this is not the time to guarantee equality for all Canadians, then when would that time be?

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, be read the third time and passed.

Canadian Human Rights Act

November 18th, 2016 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, what often unifies our weakest moments, the moments when we inflict damage upon others, the moments that linger in our minds as regret long after they have happened, the moments that we later need to ask forgiveness for or make recompense for, is a failure to seek to grant compassion to others.

Few of us seek to be uncompassionate, yet, in our fragility, we often are. This is because compassion is a difficult thing. Compassion requires work. Compassion requires self-reflection. Compassion requires selflessness. Compassion requires humility. Compassion requires departure from dogmas that often define who we are. Compassion requires courage. Compassion requires empathy across cultural grounds, across religious views, across political ideology, and across the sins of others.

This is why most religious texts and teaching often weave consistent compassion as a thread through their teachings. This is because it is compassion that, in our worst moments, saves us.

Our charge as legislators is to seek and then to define a just and well-considered but ultimately compassionate course of action when a charge of inequality is levelled.

On our first charge, that of understanding, Bill C-16 seeks to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act by adding gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination.

It also seeks to amend 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 the evidence that an offence motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence.

In short, the bill seeks to provide remedy for the inequality and discrimination that the trans community faces in Canada.

The bill, in various forms, has been debated in this House for years now. That said, it has only been in the last few years that the issue of equality for transgendered Canadians has become ingrained in the awareness of the Canadian public writ large.

I remember the first time that someone explained what gender identity and gender expression meant. I remember it clearly. It was right after I was elected in 2011. I remember being shocked at myself for not understanding this, given the level of severity that it means for me, as a legislator, not to get that. I think it is probably worth having that discussion here today to remind people.

“Sex refers to biological differences: chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs.” I am quoting from a paper from an Australian university.

Gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine. So while your sex as male or female is a biological fact that is the same in any culture, what that sex means in terms of your gender role...in society can be quite different cross culturally. These 'gender roles' have an impact on the health of an individual. In sociological terms 'gender role' refers to the characteristics and behaviours that different cultures attribute to the sexes.

It is very important for us to understand this, because our understanding of gender roles and our notion of gender is in fact fluid.

I look at myself today. I am standing in the House of Commons. I am a cisgendered woman. Only a few decades ago, if I had stood here in pants advocating for my community, as a divorced woman, as a woman without children, I think about how I would have been perceived, and what my gender role would have been decades ago. I would not have had the right to stand here. Our rights are so precious, and they are so fragile, and if we legislators cannot acknowledge when inequality exists, and if we cannot rectify that, then we are doing something wrong.

My rights as a woman and my equality were won by those who came before me, who challenged the norms assigned to my gender by society, and who still challenge those norms today and ensure that those challenges are remedied by reflection in law: the right to vote, discrimination based on gender, sexual harassment, equal pay for equal work. There is so much more work to be done, yet I am so far ahead of where members in the trans community in Canada are.

The reality is that many people who do not conform to the gender roles associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. This is not a defect. This is not an illness. This is an expression of our uniqueness and of our humanity against what others in our society may pressure us to conform to be, and nobody in Canada or in the world should face discrimination for living his or her personal truth. As legislators, we need to understand and acknowledge that great discrimination does in fact occur because of this.

When I last spoke to this bill in 2013, I noted that the trans community in Canada had on frequent occasions experienced elevated levels of sexual violence committed against members of that community, frequent workplace discrimination and job loss based on gender, lack of clarity on health care provisions and sometimes access to health care, lack of clarity on processes related to obtaining identification documents, bullying in places of employment and educational institutions, discrimination in accessing housing accommodation, and numerous other incidents of discrimination. Most important, they lived every day with the consequences of these acts of non-compassion, of false assumptions that simply by virtue of their state they were sexually promiscuous or, more ludicrously, that they were criminal. In this, the trans community experiences very high rates of levels of both depression and suicide.

Since I made this argument in 2013, very frankly and very simply put, little progress has been made on righting many of these injustices. All we can do is ask for forgiveness and then act.

This weekend will mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance, so it is fitting to recount the following.

Suicide rates among the transgendered community are incredibly high. As published by Egale Canada, in 2010, 47% of trans youth in Ontario had thought about suicide and 19% had attempted suicide in the preceding year. The Trans Murder Monitoring Project, a worldwide initiative to uncover the atrocities committed against transgendered people worldwide, found that from January 2008 to April 2016, over 2,000 members of the trans community were tragically murdered, and those are only ones that were reported. The most frequent ways these innocent lives were taken were by shootings, stabbings, beatings, strangulations, and stonings. This report also shows that 576 of these transgendered people were killed and brutally murdered in the streets. These lives were lost because of intolerance, of bigotry, and of hate.

This is not something that just happens overseas or somewhere else, or something that we can turn a blind eye to in Canada. There are many instances of this in Canada. January Marie Lapuz of New Westminster, B.C. is just one of the examples of transgendered violence that we have come to know in Canada. January was a 26 year old who was considered an involved local activist, and whom people in her community called a bright light and a shining star. She was murdered in 2012. Stories like this are all too common for those in the transgendered community.

A recent study in 2014 found that in Ontario alone, 96% of the community had heard that trans people were not normal. Shockingly, the study also found that 76% of trans Ontarians worried that they would die young. They also found that members of the trans community had actively avoided public spaces out of fear. The project also found that two-thirds of trans Ontarians had avoided public spaces as they fear harassment, being perceived as trans, or being outed as trans. It is an irrefutable fact, one that we cannot ignore and one that we should not even be debating in this place, that the trans community faces challenges and barriers that most of us do not.

In 2013, after a review of the bill, I concluded the bill would only amount to symbolic action for the trans community. I was wrong. In the last three years, I have watched this community face bigotry, more discrimination, and becoming a flashpoint for fights that we should no longer be having in Canada.

It is for that reason that I believe it is time that Parliament passes the bill. It is clear to me, after watching provincial governments, employers, court cases, and the trans community itself struggling to rectify these injustices, that action cannot be taken to right these injustices without the bill passing.

Before it does, I want to talk about bathrooms. It is an unfortunate fact that in Canada rape occurs. Men go into women's bathrooms and rape them. That is a fact. That is why there are panic buttons in many bathrooms in university campuses across Canada. That is why we have laws to harshly and strongly punish the perpetrators of sexual violence. That is why we educate people on the effects of violence to try to deter them from doing so. That is why we have police. However, here is a horrifying statistic.

Jody Herman of UCLA's Williams Institute found in her study, conducted between 2008-09, that members of the transgendered community tended to be incredibly at risk in public restrooms. In her study, about 70% of the sample of transgendered people reported experiencing being denied access to restrooms, being harassed while using restrooms, and experiencing forms of physical assault. Additionally, this study showed that nearly 10% of the respondents reported to being physically assaulted in public restrooms.

Therefore, while some like to blame and insinuate that transgendered people are the predators in washrooms, research indicates that they instead are vulnerable in these public spaces. Making a value judgment that because people are trans they are likely to prey upon people in bathrooms is wrong.

The argument the bill would impede religious freedom is also wrong. Religious freedom cannot be discriminated on in Canada. We already have laws to that effect. Moreover, I believe that when we talk about compassion and about righting injustices, that is the reason most of us have faith to begin with. It is the act of charity and compassion that comes through religious belief and the belief in a higher good that sets us apart. The ability for us as Canadians to worship in that regard, to express that freedom, and live that truth should also be reflected in our laws.

I have also heard an argument against the bill that it will prevent parents from educating their children. The irony is that right now it is parents who educate our children on gender norms as it is. It is often our parents who reinforce what our role in society is to be based on our gender.

I do not see that changing, but the bill will open up the fact that we can be compassionate and we can look at how people can best contribute to our society by living out who they want to be. I cannot imagine a more beautiful expression of Canadian pluralism than that, of Canada becoming a place where we embrace uniqueness and diversity and also respect the rights of people to express their faith.

I also believe very firmly that the bill fits squarely in line with the principles of my political party. In our guiding principles it says:

The Conservative Party of Canada is founded on and will be guided by in its policy formation the following principles....A belief in the balance between fiscal accountability, progressive social policy and individual rights and responsibilities....The goal of building a national coalition of people who share these beliefs...The goal of developing this coalition, embracing our differences and respecting our traditions, yet honouring a concept of Canada as the greater sum of strong parts....A belief in the value and dignity of all human life....A belief in the equality of all Canadians.

This is why I am part of the Conservative Party of Canada and this is why I firmly believe in the capacity of our party to show Canadians that we are compassionate, that we do believe in equality and support it through legislation.

The white elephant in the room is that the bill will challenge deeply entrenched norms on how we need to behave. We should not fear that. We should embrace the fact that Canada is such a free and true nation that we value equality over dogma.

I want to thank the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke for taking time to educate me and many other people in here, in a very quiet and patient way. I also want to commend my colleagues who may have different views on the bill, but who seek to be compassionate and reflect their views in respectful debate.

I especially want to thank the trans activists who have lived through this discrimination, through the upheaval of transition, through the upheaval of guilt or confusion over knowing their truth is something different than what society pressures them to be. While they have lived through that, they have had to sit through years of committee meetings, while their sexual behaviours have been questioned. They have stood up against intolerance and in doing so, they have sustained Canada's pluralism.

They deserve our thanks, and they also deserve an apology for when we have failed them in the past.

It is always a rare day when a Conservative member quotes a former NDP member, but I will do it today. I followed a speech by my former colleague, Megan Leslie, on this in 2013. I had the grave misfortune of following a Megan Leslie speech. She closed by saying this:

I was at a community event and a young person came up to me. I do not really remember it. I do not remember if this person was a young man or a young woman, blond or brunette, but this person came up to me, took my hand and opened it, put something in my hand and closed it up. Then they left.

I opened my hand and there was a tiny little note.

It said: Thanks for giving...[an eff] about trans people.

I think that is why we are here.

Megan was right. That is why we are here. We are also here because I believe in the capacity of my colleagues across party lines to be compassionate, to be strong, to stand up for Canada, and to stand for what is good, what is just, and what is beautiful.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, be read the third time and passed.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-16, which in my view is another key piece of equality protection legislation tabled by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

This bill, along with other legislation currently before the House, will finally bring balance and protection to the LBGT2 community.

I have heard many members say they support this bill and are anxious to see it pass. I share their desire to see the protections that Bill C-16 would add to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Criminal Code, and become part of Canadian law in the near future.

However, during the second reading debate and before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I also heard a number of questions and concerns. I appreciate the spirit of seriousness and sincerity in which members have expressed their views and those of their constituents. Many of these concerns can be allayed if we have a clear picture of the bill's purpose and scope. It is important to focus our attention on the real subject matter of this bill.

The Canadian Human Rights Act applies to the federal sector, namely to the federal government and its role as employer and service provider, and to the federally regulated private sector, including crown corporations, telecommunications companies, the postal service, chartered banks, and similar industries.

The proposed amendments seek to promote equal opportunity of trans and gender-diverse people in employment and access to goods and services. Therefore, if the grounds of gender identity and expression were added, this would mean that a trans person working for the federal government or one of those federally regulated employers that I mentioned could not be passed over for a job or a promotion simply because he or she is trans. If a trans person applies for a passport, he or she would receive the same level of respectful service as any other Canadian would expect. It would be clearly unacceptable to harass a trans person because of his or her gender identity, turning his or her workplace into a hostile or poisoned environment for reasons that have nothing to do with his or her skills or ability to do his or her job.

These are not special rights. We should all be able to find employment without irrelevant characteristics hindering us. All of us should be recognized for our contributions to our workplace and be able to work in a harassment-free environment. All of us should be able to access the same level of federal service and to receive those services in a respectful manner. Those are the kinds of provisions that we are adding to the CHRA. These are the types of essential protections that the trans community has been asking for. We know from the statistics that were cited during second reading, and we heard from the hon. parliamentary secretary, that these protections are sorely needed given the difficulties that trans people face in finding employment and accessing services. It is clear that too many trans people are being deprived of that opportunity to contribute and flourish in our society. This bill is an important step forward for greater societal acceptance and inclusion. This is not just important to trans people but for each and every Canadian. The same human rights afforded to us should be enjoyed by all. When we exclude, marginalize, or discriminate against one facet of society, we are doing damage to all of our society. We as a nation succeed when we speak and are recognized with one voice. That is why this legislation is essential. Discrimination is a matter of concern for all of us.

Some members have also expressed their view that the bill will limit freedom of religion and weakens protections for freedom of religion. However, it is important to remember that the CHRA already includes religion as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Federally regulated employers and services cannot discriminate against individuals based on religious beliefs. Employers can, however, require their managers and employees to treat each other with respect and dignity so as to foster a harassment-free workplace on any of the grounds listed in the act.

The equality provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms also prohibits religious discrimination by governments. Section 2(a) of the charter constitutionally enshrines the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion. Its purpose is to prevent government interference with profoundly held personal beliefs. This bill, which is focused on preventing discrimination in employment and the provision of services by federally regulated entities, respects freedom of religion as a guarantee in the charter, and in no way seeks to interfere with an individual's religious belief or practice.

Other members have expressed concern with potential impacts of the bill on their freedom of speech and freedom to openly discuss and debate policy issues. Still others are concerned about limiting their ability to teach their children about religious beliefs.

As explained in the Statement of Potential Charter Impacts that the minister tabled during the second reading of debate, the amendments to the hate propaganda provisions respect freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression in a free, democratic society. The criminal provisions against hate propaganda impose a very narrow limit on expression. Hate propaganda targets extreme and dangerous speech that advocates genocide against, willfully promotes hatred against, or incites hatred in a public place likely to cause a breach of peace against vulnerable people.

The most commonly prosecuted of these three offences is willfully promoting hate against an identifiable group. Critically important is the term “willfully”, which has been defined by the Supreme Court of Canada to mean intentionally and not recklessly. The Supreme Court also interpreted the word “hatred” to mean only the intense form of dislike. It is not enough that the expression is distasteful.

In addition, the offence of willfully promoting hatred does not apply to private conversations. There are also statutory defences, such as the defence of truth, and the defence of good-faith expression of a religious opinion. Finally, the consent of the appropriate provincial attorney general is required before any prosecution of this crime can begin.

With this in mind, let us remember that trans people are particularly vulnerable to harassment and violence, thus the need for society's protection against expression that seeks to dehumanize them and thereby creates conditions for their victimization.

I hope that I have addressed and allayed a number of these concerns. I would like to close by returning to the reasons I think this bill is important and why I think all members should be voting for it.

Diversity and inclusion are values that are important to all of us as Canadians. Canadians expect their laws to reflect these values, yet many trans people are not yet able to fully participate in society. This bill is an important step forward to their greater societal acceptance and inclusion. By adding the grounds of gender identity or expression to the CHRA, we will protect that freedom to live openly in one's deeply felt gender, and this will include freedom to present oneself as a person of that gender.

Transgender and other gender-diverse persons are among the most vulnerable members of society. The amendments to the Criminal Code send a clear message that hate propaganda and hate crimes against trans people are unacceptable. It is time for Parliament to ensure that our laws provide clear and explicit protection where it is now much needed.

As many will recall, the previous Parliament examined a similar bill but was not able to enact it before dissolution. In fact, this House has been considering versions of this bill for many years. It is time now for Parliament to act. Now is the time to ensure that our laws provide clear and explicit protection where it is needed the most.

I am proud of this legislation, which would ensure all Canadians are free to be themselves without fear of discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crime. As Canadians, we should all feel safe to be ourselves.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for that question and also congratulate her on her recent honour at the Parliamentarian of the Year awards.

There were a couple questions there. One was with respect to the decision of the committee to not take witnesses, and the other was on the potential restriction or alleged restriction on private speech.

With respect to the first one, witnesses at committee, this bill, Bill C-16, is a piece of government legislation that has been brought in in this Parliament, but it is certainly not the first time that issues of protection from discrimination for our trans community have been debated in this place. This bill actually went through the House of Commons in the last Parliament. It has been the subject of extensive debate, and we have heard from numerous witnesses at various times.

The committees, as the hon. member would know, are masters of their own destiny. There was a vote taken at committee on witnesses, and that was indeed the decision of the committee.

With respect to restrictions on free speech, she need not be concerned about that. There is an amendment to the Criminal Code such that unless discussions venture into the hate propaganda portions of the Criminal Code, inter-family discussions will not, in any way, be affected.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was very supportive of Bill C-16 going to committee, because I wanted to hear some of the answers to difficult questions asked during the debate. I am very disappointed, in fact more than disappointed, that witnesses were not allowed at committee and that this has been rammed back to the House.

Would the member please answer this difficult question? There are many people in this country who do not believe that a transgendered lifestyle is God's plan or that it is medically beneficial, so if we pass this legislation, would that then affect their ability to tell their children not to speak about those ideas in a public place?

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for that.

I would like to use some of my time to respond to a persistent criticism of the bill. That is that it is redundant, unnecessary, and merely symbolic. Members raised this issue during second reading debate. They have argued that the bill is not necessary, because our federal discrimination law already provides trans people with enough protection. I acknowledge the perspectives of my fellow parliamentarians, but I believe that these concerns can be answered and that the bill is indeed necessary.

It was pointed out that under the current Canadian Human Rights Act, commonly called the CHRA, trans people may bring discrimination complaints using the ground of sex.

It is true that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has interpreted the existing ground of sex to cover some complaints brought by trans individuals alleging discrimination, but a person must be quite familiar with the case law and the workings of the CHRA system to know that this protection is even available. Canadians should be able to turn to our laws and see their rights and obligations spelled out clearly. We cannot expect trans people who feel they have been discriminated against to become experts in statutory interpretation just to advocate for their basic rights.

The CHRA system was originally designed to be a user-friendly, inexpensive, and accessible system. We can further improve access to justice for Canadians by ensuring that rights and obligations are spelled out clearly in the CHRA.

What is more, employers and service providers must also be aware of their obligations under the law. They too should be able to look at the CHRA and understand what is required of them. They should be able to understand what kinds of workplace accommodations they must provide to their employees. This area of the law is just emerging. Bill C-16 would serve the important function of clarifying and codifying it.

These are practical results, not mere symbolism. When similar amendments were made in provincial human rights codes, human rights agencies received inquiries from the public creating new opportunities to inform people about their rights and obligations.

Ontario's Human Rights Legal Support Centre reported an increase in enquiries about gender identity and expression, and there are similar reports from other provinces. After gender identity and expression were added to the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Ontario Human Rights Commission reported a growing awareness that discriminating on these grounds is against the law. Commissions have confirmed that explicitly listing these grounds supports their mandate to inform the public of their rights and obligations.

We have also seen legal education respond to amendments such as these. Bulletins, newsletters, and textbooks are sent out and updated to account for statutory amendments. Training sessions and conferences are held to inform legal professionals and others of the new provisions.

That has been the experience elsewhere. We should expect the same when this bill is enacted. These are some of the tangible effects we hope to achieve with the bill. They are results, and parliamentarians have the ability and the responsibility to set them in motion.

I turn now to another reason for the bill: it would amend the Criminal Code to respond to the risk of violence and harm faced by trans individuals on an all too frequent basis.

For a better sense of these risks, I would refer the House to the Trans Pulse project, a research study of social determinants of health among trans people in the province of Ontario. Data for the Trans Pulse project came from focus groups conducted in three Ontario cities in 2006, with 85 trans community members and four family members, and from a survey in 2009-10 of 433 trans Ontarians age 16 and over.

According to this research, trans individuals are the targets of specifically directed violence. Twenty per cent had been physically or sexually assaulted for being trans, and another 34% had been verbally threatened or harassed but not assaulted. Many do not report these assaults to the police.

Let me now turn to the proposed Criminal Code amendments that are intended to address these risks and harms. First let us consider the aggravated sentencing provision that enables judges to properly recognize and denounce crimes motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate. This is found in section 718.2 of the code.

One of the important purposes of the aggravated sentencing provision is the condemnation of hate crimes. It is about recognizing that some people may be more vulnerable to crime simply because they are identifiable as members of a particular group. That can be because of race, religion, colour, or ethnic origin, to name just a few of the listed grounds. Bill C-16 would add explicit protection for members of the trans community.

We can see, again, that Bill C-16 is more than just a symbolic gesture. Adding the ground of gender identity or expression to the Criminal Code would explicitly condemn this type of hate crime. It would also clearly signal to police and prosecutors that they must be aware of the particular vulnerability of trans individuals.

Bill C-16 would also add gender identity or expression to the hate propaganda offences in the Criminal Code. This is by no means redundant. This amendment would fill a gap in the law. In the criminal context, clarity and certainty is of great importance. Criminal offences are interpreted narrowly. The hate propaganda offences currently protect groups identifiable on the ground of sex and other grounds, but there is no mention of gender identity or expression. We cannot assume that these offences would be interpreted to cover gender identity or expression without the amendment of Bill C-16.

Finally, some members have expressed the view that the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression” are too vague and open-ended. It has been suggested that the addition of these grounds would lead to a flood of litigation.

I do not think this concern is warranted. Most provinces and territories now have explicit protection for trans and gender-diverse people in their anti-discrimination statutes. Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island all have gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds in their human rights codes. The codes in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories have the ground of gender identity. In fact, the Northwest Territories has had the ground of gender identity in its act for more than a decade. There has not been a flood of ligation in these provinces and territories.

I have also heard the suggestion that a definition should be added. Most of the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the CHRA do not have definitions. Commissions, tribunals, and courts elaborate the meaning of the grounds in a reasonable way. They clarify through the application of real-life examples, allowing the law to respond in line with its purpose. This does not mean that grounds are indeterminate. It does not mean that people can claim protection on a whim or for frivolous reasons. There are real limits to what any ground can mean, informed by the important purpose of the legislation and the social context in which it is being enacted.

It is time for Parliament to ensure that our laws provide clear and explicit protection where it is now much needed. I urge members to vote in favour of this bill.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 10:05 a.m.
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Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I request consent to split my time with the member for St. Catharines.

I am rising to take the opportunity to speak about Bill C-16. I would like to use some of my time to respond—

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

November 18th, 2016 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

moved that Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, be read the third time and passed.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, as reported without amendment from the committee.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

November 17th, 2016 / 3:05 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we will continue our debate at second reading of Bill C-26 on the Canada pension plan.

Tomorrow, we will resume debate on Bill C-16 on gender identity. If time permits, we will also examine Bill C-25, the business framework bill.

On Monday, I will call Bill C-30, the CETA implementation legislation, for consideration at second reading. The bill will be on the agenda for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It is my hope that this bill will be referred to committee on Wednesday evening.

On Thursday, we will consider second reading of Bill C-23 respecting pre-clearance.

Next Friday, I will call Bill C-18, the Rouge national park legislation, for second reading debate.

November 17th, 2016 / 11:05 a.m.
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Deputy Director General and General Counsel, Human Rights Law Sector, Public Law and Legislative Services Sector, Department of Justice

Laurie Sargent

With respect to the Canadian Human Rights Act, the key piece will be that it's adding a new prohibited ground of discrimination to the CHRA: the ground of genetic characteristics. We were just been here on Bill C-16, which was also adding a new ground of gender identity and expression. This bill will provide explicit protection against discrimination on the basis of genetic characteristics.

From the Department of Justice's perspective, there already is some protection in the CHRA under the ground of disability for anyone who has a predisposition, as we would call it, to a disability that might be revealed through any number of means, including a genetic test. That has been established in the case law by the Supreme Court, in the case of Quebec v. Boisbriand (City) and Quebec v. Montreal (City). This is taking that, in a way, one step further to make it clear that discrimination is prohibited whenever someone has a genetic characteristic that may predispose them to particular abilities or not, or illness or not, and clear that this is obviously a prohibited basis on which employers and service providers who are regulated by the federal jurisdiction can make decisions.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 4th, 2016 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

The committee has studied the bill and has agreed to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

November 3rd, 2016 / 3:05 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue to debate the Conservative Party motion.

Tomorrow, we will resume debate on Bill C-26, on the Canada pension plan.

Next week, as the hon. member said, we will be working hard in our constituencies and attending Remembrance Day ceremonies on Friday to collectively stand in honour of all who have fallen in the service of Canada.

When we return on Monday, November 14, the House will then have the fifth day of second reading debate on Bill C-26, the CPP enhancement bill. On Tuesday, the House will also have the fifth day of second reading debate on Bill C-29, the second budget implementation bill.

On Wednesday, the House will consider Bill C-16, the gender identity bill, at report stage, and hopefully at third reading. On Thursday, the House will debate Bill C-25, the business framework bill, at second reading.

November 3rd, 2016 / 11:15 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

We don't need to order a reprint of the bill because there were no amendments. So that ends the discussion on Bill C-16.

Mr. Clerk, will you be able to get that to me to report back tomorrow?

Thank you very much.

We'll now go to an in-camera session. We'll take a five-minute break while everybody else leaves the room.

[Proceedings continue in camera]

November 3rd, 2016 / 11 a.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Before we begin, I thought it was important that I express some of my thoughts on the decision of this committee to move directly into clause-by-clause. In my three years as a member of Parliament—it's not that long—I don't recall any precedent of a bill moving directly to clause-by-clause when it has been referred to committee.

I respect all members of this committee, and I hope that each of you has felt that as we have worked together on various bills. We've always been able to work constructively and had good discussions and honest dialogue, even on issues that invoked a lot of passion on both sides of the table here. It's precisely because of my respect and appreciation for members of this committee that I'd like to make a few comments.

I believe that as a committee, we've failed to do what we need to do. I believe that Canadians expect us to conduct a thorough study every time a bill comes to committee, to examine it, and to improve it where possible, and then to send it back to the House for third reading before it moves to the Senate. And I think collectively, as a committee, we have failed to do that; we have failed to discharge our duties. Our job as a parliamentary committee is to give due consideration and thorough study to all bills that are referred to us. We don't do that just to fill the time allotted to us here by our caucus, but we do it because it's a responsibility and a trust that has been given to us by our caucus, by our fellow Canadians, and also by our constituents.

The mandate of our committee states that we will review proposed amendments to federal legislation relating to certain aspects of criminal law, family law, human rights law, and the administration of justice, with respect to—among other statutes—both the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

As you're all aware, both of these statutes are set for amendment in Bill C-16, but I could just as easily have been speaking about any legislation referred to this committee.

I believe we all support initiatives that protect individuals from hate speech. We all believe that individuals deserve equal treatment under the law. Every one of us here condemns bullying or violence of any kind, but it really comes down to this: how do we know what we don't know? There has been much discussion in the media lately concerning the matter of free speech and the state of free speech here in Canada. Do we really know if this bill will have an impact on free speech? No, we don't.

Concerns have been raised about the impact on our immigrant and religious groups who have some deeply held convictions with respect to human sexuality. Have we explored whether there's a need for explicit safeguards to protect these groups? No, we haven't. And can we assure them that the concerns they may have have been studied thoroughly and that they have nothing to worry about? I don't believe we can.

Can any of us answer the questions raised about whether there's room for abuse because of this legislation? For example, when it comes to something as simple as women's athletic scholarships, do we know if a male who identifies or expresses his gender as something other than male would insist on applying this new law so he could qualify for a scholarship expressly intended for a female athlete? No, we don't know that. Had we properly studied this bill, maybe there would have been some recognition that this bill needs to include certain safeguards. We're in no position to answer any of these questions because we just haven't done our job; we haven't had a chance to study and to get feedback from stakeholders.

I believe we have a duty and an obligation to listen to Canadians, not only informally as persons, or through messages by text or email, but formally before this committee, whether they are individuals who support the bill unequivocally, or those who want to see adjustments made, or those who see the bill as fundamentally flawed, we owe it to Canadians to listen, to make informed decisions based on the testimony we hear.

Mr. Chairman, I think that's what Canadians expect of us, and I'm sad to say that we've failed in this duty. For that reason, among others, I will be voting against the bill.

Those are my comments.

November 3rd, 2016 / 11 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Hello, everyone.

I would like to call to order this meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Of course, since this will be our last meeting before Remembrance Day, I know that every member of this committee would like to salute our veterans, and all the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, on this very solemn occasion.

Today we're going to start our agenda with a clause-by-clause review of Bill C-16, and afterwards the committee will go in camera for other discussions.

Mr. Falk.

October 27th, 2016 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

I appreciate the question.

I certainly recognize the thoughtfulness of the questions that were asked around this table and the expression of support that was reflected in the House of Commons' vote at second reading. I hope it moves very quickly through the House of Commons into the Senate.

I have confidence in the honourable senators to have dialogue and debate around Bill C-16, as they have done on other pieces of legislation. I do hope there is a recognition of the need to have this legislation in place in terms of gender identity and gender expression.

As the Minister of Justice, I am very open, as I have been on previous pieces of legislation, to engage at committee or individually with the honourable senators to answer any questions they may have and to provide any background evidence and studies they would require in making their determination. I very much look forward to the swift passage of Bill C-16 into law.

October 27th, 2016 / 12:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

One of the purposes of bringing this legislation forward is to show Canadians, individuals among the trans population, that their rights are protected in law. Many of those individuals feel that they do not have the ability or that there isn't a safe place for them to freely express themselves. We need to move beyond that.

In terms of the significance of Bill C-16, I certainly would point to the many individuals I've met, including a very young lady by the name of Charlie who was present when we introduced this legislation. My interaction with her was incredibly emotional. She feels incredibly empowered that the Government of Canada has recognized that there is discrimination, and that the government is seeking in Parliament, I hope, to do everything we can to eliminate that discrimination so she can be proud of who she is and feel that her views and the way she feels about herself are welcomed, and that we can provide the space for her to be as successful as she wants to be.

That is where the substantive nature of this piece of legislation is reflected, in the eyes and the mouths of the individuals—

October 27th, 2016 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Okay, I accept that.

You indicated in your interview on Power & Politics that you really didn't think there would be a significant change. I'm wondering whether you are aware of any particular cases, and whether you can cite any, that were unable to be prosecuted because of our existing laws but would have seen successful prosecution had Bill C-16 been enacted.

October 27th, 2016 / noon
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

I've had the benefit of meeting with a myriad of stakeholders, advocates in terms of the trans population, in one-on-one conversations, which I take incredibly seriously, and reference the situation that the member speaks about in terms of discrimination of the individual in the law firm.

I've heard many stories in that regard. I've read testimony in the blues around previous iterations of this piece of legislation, and I've heard from the advocates who presented on behalf of the legislation, whether it be around committee tables like this one or in the House. There is a substantive body of testimony, of personal reflections and factual circumstances that, without equivocation, lends itself to ensuring that we pass Bill C-16 as fast as we can.

October 27th, 2016 / 11:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Well, first of all, I feel compelled to respond to some of the comments you made. If there are other groups that aren't recognized in the prohibited grounds, or an identifiable group, I would very much like to know what those groups are.

I would further say the reason there are protections in the Canadian Human Rights Act isn't dependent upon, in my view, the number of individuals who experience discrimination, whether that be large or lower. Human rights are human rights, and we need to ensure, whether it's a small group of people or a large group of people, that we provide the necessary protection for those individuals. That's why we've introduced Bill C-16. That's why years of advocacy in this regard have brought us to this place. The prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act are quite broad and are clearly articulated so as not to exclude anybody who is finding discrimination.

I would put the question back to you. You say there are many others who aren't included explicitly. I would very much like to know. Perhaps we can have a conversation about that off-line. I would be interested in your thoughts in that regard.

October 27th, 2016 / 11:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Thank you for that.

There's only one other question I have. Bill C-16 is really a successor to Bill C-279, which had been put forward by Mr. Garrison in the last Parliament. At one point in Bill C-279, “expression” was removed from the bill, and it was limited to gender identity. Could you explain the rationale for including “gender identity” and “expression” in terms of the language in the current bill?

October 27th, 2016 / 11:45 a.m.
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Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General of Canada, Department of Justice

William F. Pentney

I think the minister has indicated a willingness and a commitment to look at section 13, but with Bill C-16, Parliament would have an opportunity more immediately to provide at least some protections in the criminal law.

October 27th, 2016 / 11:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

First of all, to echo comments from other members around the table, Mr. Garrison, I commend you for your persistent advocacy in this regard, which is probably one of the main reasons we're sitting around this table.

I share your belief that this is something that needs to be done on an urgent basis, which is not to say that having Bill C-16 become law means that's the end of the work that we have to do. I have the same sense of urgency for the work we need to do after, I hope, this bill comes into place.

There are discussions that we're going to need to continue to have on that urgent basis around how we are going to deal with individual circumstances, whether that be travel for trans people, how we accommodate the identification on forms, or how we accommodate individuals in correctional facilities. These are ongoing discussions that I am committed to having, ensuring that we engage with the appropriate departmental officials and engage with stakeholders to get feedback.

Certainly, in particular cases, whether that be somebody who is in a correctional facility, it's going to depend on the particular circumstances of the individual case. But we need to have those conversations and find where those accommodations have taken place and how we can successfully do that more broadly.

I am committed to ensuring that I engage with my colleagues in government as well as looking to what has already started to happen in the area of identification, whether that be immigration, a border crossing, or otherwise.

October 27th, 2016 / 11:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

In terms of the concerns that some have expressed in accessing bathrooms or going into...?

I find it troubling as well. I think it's the very fact that questions are raised about concerns in terms of somebody who clearly identifies one way or the other There's a creation of fear of that person going into one bathroom or the other. The fact that we're having this conversation is the very reason that we need to have Bill C-16 in place. I hope, as a society, we will overcome these negative stereotypes and recognize that individuals should be free to be themselves and when they are free to be themselves, our society benefits.

October 27th, 2016 / 11:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

As the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, but specifically as minister, I feel and take great pride and responsibility to ensure that we live in a legal and political system that will protect us regardless of our race, regardless of our sexual orientation, regardless of our faith.

For me, in terms of my responsibility and looking at the substantive amount of work that had come before me in terms of presenting bills back to members of Parliament Siksay and Garrison, as well as member of Parliament Fry, and the trans population across the country, who have elevated this to the point where they have articulated where they felt discrimination, to do our part as legislators and my part as minister, this was pretty much a no-brainer and something that I'm very pleased to have been able to follow up from the many who have advocated this in the past and put forward Bill C-16. I very much hope that this bill goes through our parliamentary process and becomes law, so we can amend those statutes to provide for and eliminate discrimination as much as we can.

October 27th, 2016 / 11:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

I appreciate the question and I, even more, appreciate the opportunity to provide an answer.

I believe and am confident that Bill C-16 does something substantial in terms of amending the Canadian Human Rights Act to explicitly and in clear language add gender identity and gender expression as a prohibited ground. I want to acknowledge the decades of advocacy on behalf of the trans community to ensure that we have been able to get to this place wherein, as a Parliament, we have the opportunity to recognize that discrimination against trans individuals, individuals who have a different gender identity or gender expression, are now clearly protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Furthermore, to add them as an identifier to the identifiable groups under the Criminal Code and have gender identity and gender expression added as an aggravating factor in sentencing goes to the intent, which I am very proud of in terms of Canadian values and recognizing that as a country we are stronger in terms of our diversity and we need to ensure that we do as much as possible to eliminate and eradicate discrimination wherever it finds itself in our society.

October 27th, 2016 / 11:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

—but in Bill C-16 we are providing clarity with respect to the Canadian Human Rights Act and clarity with respect to the Criminal Code, as well as adding it as an aggravating factor in sentencing, to make the law clear, to ensure that we provide for protection against discrimination for individuals based on their gender identity and gender expression. This provides the necessary clarity and the ability for individuals to feel safe to be themselves.

October 27th, 2016 / 11:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Thank you, Minister, for coming to committee twice in one week.

Mr. Pentney, thank you for coming as well and for the good work you do on our behalf. Mr. Pentney, I'd like to start with you.

In a Department of Justice backgrounder issued on May 17, 2016, the department, which I assume you are responsible for, stated that the Criminal Code also provides that a judge, when sentencing someone for having committed an offence, must consider any relevant aggravating circumstances, including whether the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disabilities, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor. It went on to say that this phrase is broad enough to include gender identity or expression.

That is a backgrounder from your department, sir.

I'm wondering how changing the Criminal Code as this bill is suggesting to do would impact criminal proceedings. What are, really, the palpable differences? Also, are there things that are covered in Bill C-16 that presently don't exist in either the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Criminal Code?

October 27th, 2016 / 11 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Thank you.

I am certainly pleased to be here with my deputy minister and pleased for the opportunity to be able to present on Bill C-16 today. I look forward to answering any questions.

In my remarks today, I will outline the broad objectives of the bill, take you through some specific amendments, and then respond to three points that were raised during second reading debate.

Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, is an important step forward in protecting the equality, dignity, security, and freedom of transgender and gender-diverse Canadians.

Trans Canadians, like all Canadians, should have an equal opportunity to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have. Indeed, all Canadians should be free to be themselves, without fear of discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crime. Sadly, this is not yet the experience of many trans people.

As you are aware, trans and gender-diverse people face an elevated risk of violence, including physical and sexual assault, and verbal, physical, and sexual harassment. They also face significant obstacles in obtaining and advancing in employment, and not because of their lack of qualifications but because of discrimination.

Yet our human rights protections and criminal law do not explicitly protect this vulnerable group. With Bill C-16, Parliament has the opportunity to affirm in clear language that trans and gender-diverse people are entitled to equal protection from discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crime.

Canada is strengthened by its diversity. Diversity flourishes when our laws and institutions promote social inclusion and participation for all, which is fundamentally what this bill seeks to do. To this end, Bill C-16 proposes to make three amendments.

It would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to add two prohibited grounds of discrimination: gender identity and gender expression. As a result of this amendment, it would be a discriminatory practice, in matters of employment and the provision of goods, services, facilities, and accommodation in the federal jurisdiction, to disadvantage people because of their gender identity or gender expression.

This bill also proposes to amend the Criminal Code. It would expand the list of identifiable groups that are protected from hate propaganda by adding gender identity or expression to the list.

Finally, it would make it clear that hatred on the basis of gender identity or expression should be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing for criminal offences.

It is not the first time that parliamentarians are studying this issue. Indeed, this House has already passed substantially the same bill twice before. Moreover, most provinces have already made similar amendments. I believe these amendments are overdue. Nevertheless, it is evident from the debate in the House that there are questions about why we need to enact these amendments and what they will do. I listened carefully to the debate and I acknowledged the perspectives of my fellow parliamentarians. I would like to address some of the questions today.

Some wondered whether the amendments are necessary. It was pointed out that trans people may already complain of discrimination on the ground of sex under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and that the hate crime sentencing provision is open-ended and would therefore already include gender identity and expression. Allow me to offer three responses.

First, Canadians should be able to turn to our fundamental laws, like the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, and see their rights and obligations spelled out clearly. Promoting access to justice means working on an ongoing basis to make our laws as clear and easy as possible for everyone to understand.

Trans people who feel they have been discriminated against should not have to become experts in legal interpretation to advocate for their basic rights. Employers and service providers should know explicitly what legal duties they have towards their employees and customers. Adding these grounds to the Canadian Human Rights Act as well as the Criminal Code would ensure they are clear for all to see.

Second, Canadians expect parliamentarians to speak on their behalf to the social issues of the day and to affirm their fundamental rights. With this bill, Parliament has the opportunity to affirm that all Canadians should be free and feel safe to be themselves. The House can stand with trans and gender-diverse people to affirm their equal rights.

It is more than a symbolic gesture; this is about embedding new language of respect and inclusion in two important laws that set basic norms about how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis. This is about the Government of Canada sending a clear message that all Canadians are protected by and have the benefit of the law.

The third reason will be of special interest to this committee in its role of studying and recommending improvements to Canada's justice system. This legislation would fill an important gap in the criminal law. The Criminal Code's hate propaganda offences currently extend to the ground of sex, but there is no mention of gender identity or expression. As you know, gender identity is not the same characteristic as sex. Since criminal prohibitions are interpreted narrowly, in order to ensure that the offence protects against hate propaganda which targets trans and gender-diverse individuals because of their gender identity and expression, it is important for Parliament to legislate explicitly on this point.

We also heard questions about why gender identity and expression are not defined and whether their meaning is too subjective. Again, let me offer some comments.

Gender identity and expression are now found in most provincial human rights codes. Commissions, tribunals, and courts are expected to elaborate the meaning of such grounds in a reasonable way, with reference to the purpose of the law. They clarify these grounds, and indeed all grounds, through application of real-life examples, allowing the law to respond to individual situations in line with its purpose.

This does not mean that grounds are completely open-ended or that people can claim protection on a whim. There are real limits to what any ground can mean. The Federal Court of Appeal has insisted that the grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act must be interpreted in ways that do not trivialize the Canadian Human Rights Act's important role in the legal system. By way of comparison, the ground of religion is also undefined in the act, yet one's religious beliefs are subjectively determined. As the Supreme Court of Canada has stated, legal protection depends on the religious beliefs being sincere, a requirement that tribunals and courts are used to assessing on an individual basis.

Finally, we've heard that there are diverse understandings of sex and gender in Canada. Some may ask whether these amendments would lead to criminal prosecution of people who express disapproval of diverse gender identities or expressions. The answer is no. As explained in the statement of potential charter impacts that I tabled at second reading, the amendments to the hate propaganda provisions respect freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression in a free and democratic society. The criminal prohibitions on hate propaganda impose a narrow limit on expression. This limit is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society, given the important objective being pursued, namely, to target extreme and dangerous speech that one, advocates genocide; two, wilfully promotes hatred; or three, incites hatred in a public place likely to cause a breach of the peace against vulnerable groups. The target is speech that promotes unusually strong and deeply felt emotions of detestation or vilification, which is far from the expression of religious faith, dissenting views, or even opinion that some may find offensive.

The Canadian Human Rights Act is concerned with protecting for all persons, equal access to goods, services, and employment in the federally regulated sector. It is not concerned with regulating the expression of one's beliefs. Rather, the act prohibits discriminatory practices, including harassment when harassment is inflicted in the employment context or in the provision of goods, services, facilities, or accommodation available to the general public, commercial premises, or residential accommodation.

As interpreted by the courts and tribunals, harassment involves serious incidents of persistent treatment that accumulates to create a hostile environment in these contexts.

Many other topics have been raised in debate in the House; however, several of them concerned matters of provincial jurisdiction, and others referred to situations that are outside the scope of the bill, keeping in mind that the Canadian Human Rights Act applies only in the federal sector. This means that it applies to the federal government in its role as employer and service provider and to the federally regulated private sector, including crown corporations, interprovincial and international transportation companies, telecommunications, the postal service, and chartered banks.

To conclude, I encourage this committee to focus on the real subject matter of this bill. It is about equal opportunity for trans and gender-diverse persons in employment and in access to goods and services. It is about increasing their sense of security and freedom from the most extreme forms of hate speech, including calls for genocide and its promotion. It's about denouncing what we know are still all-too-frequent acts of violence and other crimes when they target persons out of bias, prejudice, or hatred based on an individual's gender identity or expression.

Surely we can all agree that these objectives are pressing and in urgent need of being addressed. Bill C-16 would make the amendments needed to pursue these crucial objectives.

Thank you for the opportunity. I look forward to questions.

October 27th, 2016 / 11 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

It's a great pleasure to call this meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to order, as this committee proceeds to its study of Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

It is a pleasure to welcome Mr. Garrison to replace Mr. Rankin at today's meeting. Welcome, Mr. Garrison.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 1:25 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to address an important piece of legislation. I applaud in particular the Minister of Justice, who has introduced two substantial pieces of legislation in a relatively short time span. I admire the efforts and the work that she, through her department, has done in order to present Bill C-16 to the House. I understand that the legislation was part of the mandate letter that was provided to her by the Prime Minister. That speaks to the degree of importance that the Prime Minister, cabinet, and the government as a whole, any political party, place on the legislation.

I listened to the many speeches that have taken place today and I have found that all political parties support Bill C-16. We do not often get that sort of support and it is worthy of notice.

I would like to again highlight the effort put into this file by the Minister of Justice and her department. This did not just happen overnight. When legislation is brought forward a significant contribution is made by many different stakeholders from virtually every region of our country. It is important that we acknowledge the efforts of the many individuals who have allowed us to get to this point where we are now debating Bill C-16.

It is important to recognize that Ottawa played an important role, a strong leadership role with respect to the legislation. I will get back to that leadership role, but it is important that we recognize that there are other jurisdictions.

I asked the member for Richmond Hill if I could quote him specifically in his response to a question because it is pertinent to today's debate. He said, “many other provinces and territories across Canada had adopted legislation that sought to protect the rights of trans and gender diverse persons in Canada. Most Canadian provinces and territories now list gender identity, and some have included gender expression, among the prohibited grounds of discrimination under their human rights law.” He also said, “The human rights laws in the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, while the human rights laws in Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, including Newfoundland and Labrador, prohibit discrimination based on both gender identity and gender expression.”

When members think of Bill C-16 and how they might vote, they need to recognize that Ottawa, albeit an important player, has a leadership role to play. It is also important to note that while most provinces have amended their human rights laws to provide explicit protection as noted above, gender identity and/or gender expression had previously been implicitly included in some jurisdictions under other explicitly enumerated grounds, such as sex, as a matter of policy, and/or as a result of court decisions.

It is important to recognize that while New Brunswick, Nunavut, and Yukon have not amended their legislation to explicitly include gender identity or gender expression in their laws, the New Brunswick and Yukon human rights commissions have published guidelines on human rights that indicate that gender identity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.

It is important to recognize that across Canada we are moving toward a more modern and a more inclusive society. The legislation would align with Canadians' wishes and truly represent them.

As a representative of the great constituency of Winnipeg North, I believe that I represent all the people of Winnipeg North. I want the members of my constituency to feel comfortable knowing that I will represent their interests first and foremost. This is something I do in different ways. For example, in caucus discussions, we know that we can say whatever we want. We know that at times there are some limitations in the chamber regarding what a member might want to say. However, I want my constituents to understand that no matter what their background is, whether based on ethnicity, religion, or belief, when coming to talk to me, I will not discriminate in any way so that I can represent their interests, no matter what percentage of the population they might claim to be part of in my constituency. I say that because this debate should not be about one's faith or religion; it is a fundamental right we are debating.

Back in 1948, the United Nations brought forward a universal declaration about the importance of human rights. Since that day, there has been the intention and goodwill of politicians around the world to honour it by bringing forward ideas, resolutions, and legislation to try to embody what that declaration was proclaiming.

We often hear about the lack of studies and reports. The nice thing about Google is that it does not take much to get a sense of what might be out there. I would like to make reference to a report I was able to identify. I would encourage members who are having a difficult time with this issue to try to get a better understanding of what many individuals in our society are trying to come to grips with. Many are trying to make a difference by, for example, seeing legislation such as Bill C-16 pass.

It is a report by the Trans Pulse project team in Ontario. I would like to provide some selected comments from that report.

I will start on page 1, which highlights how effective this report was, and still is.

It states:

To date, the project has produced 14 academic research articles in peer-reviewed journals, 5 reports created at the request of government or community service agencies, and 8 e-bulletins to provide short summaries of key findings in easily accessible formats.

I would emphasize that this report originated in Canada's largest province, Ontario.

It posed this question: “Who are Trans People in Ontario?” I love the response. I believe it is appropriate for me to read the response to that question.

It states:

Trans people in Ontario report a full range of ages and occupations, and are geographically distributed across the province proportionally to the population.

This is something members have actually raised. This is not just an urban issue. It goes on:

They belong to all ethno-racial groups, and 7% identify as Aboriginal. Of course, trans people also form families: 44% are in a committed relationship and 24% are parents.

While they may not have had language for it at the time, 59% knew that their gender identity did not match their body before the age of 10, and 80% had this knowledge by the age of 14. Gender identity is often clear years before people socially transition to live in their core gender. While approximately 80% of Ontario trans people have socially transitioned to live their day-to-day lives in their core gender, most full-time, only 8% report that they had begun living in their core gender by age 14. It is import[ant] to note that there is a lot of sex and gender diversity within trans communities. About three-quarters of trans people indicate they need to transition medically, which may involve different combinations of hormones and/or surgery for different individuals. Though trans women have received greater media attention, there are about equal numbers of trans people on male-to-female and female-to-male spectrums in Ontario.

This is an important point.

About 1 in 5 trans people do not identify as male or female, or even as primarily masculine or feminine. These more gender-fluid people can identify as both male and female, neither male nor female, or as something else entirely (e.g. as another traditional gender recognized by Aboriginal or other cultural groups).

The report provides some extensive polling, which I thought was quite interesting. The report talks a lot about the discrimination and violence experienced by trans persons.

In everyday life, trans people experience the effects of living in a society in which stigma and discrimination against trans people are common. In addition to instances of discrimination and violence that would constitute human rights violations, trans Ontarians nearly universally report that they have experienced some type of “everyday transphobia”. For example, 96% had heard that trans people were not normal, 73% had been made fun of for being trans, and 78% reported their family had been hurt or embarrassed. These daily indignities can take their toll; 77% worried about growing old as a trans person, and 67% feared they would die young.

There are some interesting numbers the report releases, but let there be no doubt that it is common that there is discrimination, violence, and structural barriers for trans people.

Continuing with the report, on the issue of violence, it states:

Trans people are the targets of specifically directed violence; 20% had been physically or sexually assaulted for being trans, and another 34% had been verbally threatened or harassed but not assaulted. Many did not report these assaults to the police; in fact, 24% reported having been harassed by police. Trans people also face violence in institutional settings such as prisons; 6% of Trans PULSE participants had been in prison or jail, and one-third of them reported experiencing violence due to their gender....

It continues:

The majority (57%) of trans Ontarians had avoided public washrooms due to these safety fears....

Of those who had experienced physical and/or sexual violence due to being trans, 97% report avoiding at least one type of public space....

The impact of discrimination and violence on social participation and health is something that is very prevalent.

Mental health and suicide are very serious issues. A graph of the proportion of trans Ontarians reporting past-year suicidality by past experiences of transphobic assault or harassment has very interesting numbers. It is going up.

We need to look at what Bill C-16 is proposing to do. Canada celebrates diversity and inclusion. All Canadians should feel safe being themselves. As promised, the government has introduced legislation to add gender identity as a prohibited ground for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act and to list it in the distinguishing characteristics of identifiable groups protected by the hate speech provisions of the Criminal Code.

Our government believes that all people can live according to their gender identity and can be protected from discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes. We are committed to ensuring that trans and gender-diverse Canadians are free from discrimination and are protected from hate propaganda and hate crimes. Bill C-16 would ensure that protection from discrimination based on an individual's gender, identity, or expression is included in the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The Canadian Human Rights Act was proclaimed in Parliament back in 1977. In reading through it, I found something worth repeating, which is the actual purpose of the act. It states:

The purpose of this Act is to extend the laws in Canada to give effect, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, to the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

I think all Canadians understand the importance of the Canadian Human Rights Act. There are agencies, such as the Canadian Human Rights Commission, that investigate issues and pass them on to the Human Rights Tribunal. There is an apparatus, whether through legislation or our bureaucracy, to ensure that discrimination is marginalized in our country.

Today we have before us legislation that would give more strength to what Canadians have accepted overwhelmingly, the Canadian Human Rights Act. That is what the government is proposing to do, recognizing that transgender people are suffering discrimination far beyond what the average Canadian suffers. Incorporating it into the Canadian Human Rights Act is the right thing to do.

If members listened to the speeches this morning, this has crossed party lines. I appreciate the opinions of all, but I would emphasize that this should not be a debate about faith. It should be a debate about human rights. It should be about discrimination and the role parliamentarians can play in minimizing discrimination.

It goes back to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights back in 1948 and the leadership role Canada can play. We have a Prime Minister who has mandated that the Minister of Justice make this legislation a priority so that it is passed during the first year of this government's mandate.

We recognize how important it is as parliamentarians to say that we will not stand for violence, bullying, and discrimination, When we are provided the opportunity to protect those rights and ensure there is a higher sense of equality, we will step up to the plate and support this legislation.

I appreciate and respect the opinions of all, but I look at this issue as a human rights issue first and foremost. We owe it to all our constituents, no matter where they come from or what their perspective might be, to represent them well. When we have legislation of this nature, which would ensure that sense of equality, we need to stand and be counted in support of the legislation.

I understand there is some reservation from opposition members. Let us attempt to address that by allowing the bill to go to committee and see if those points can be addressed, and then make that final decision on third reading. I encourage members of the House to pass this legislation at second reading, allow it to go to committee, and see what the members of the public and others have to say. How wonderful that would be in recognition of the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed many decades ago.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will try to keep your last point in mind as I address my comments through you to the House.

I am also rising to speak to Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. It is a bit of an innocuous title to a bill that requires parliamentarians to reflect on some personal and fundamental values. It is also important to note that the bill will likely receive majority support, while we must acknowledge that some of my colleagues and many Canadians do have concerns about what the bill actually means.

I will be supporting the bill at second reading, and I hope my remarks will help shape a thoughtful dialogue, especially for those who are less comfortable, and also will address some of the specific concerns I have heard during the debate in the House today.

First, it is important to talk about the technical aspects of the bill. Bill C-16 would make three changes to the law. It would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression. This amendment would provide explicit protection to gender, transgender, and gender diverse persons. That is from discrimination in areas such as employment opportunities and access to goods and services.

The bill would also amend the Criminal Code in two ways. It would prohibit hate propaganda against groups that are identifiable based on gender identity or gender expression, and certainly an example is extremist literature that is especially targeting them.

Finally, it would amend the Criminal Code to clarify that sentencing for a criminal offence may be greater if the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate.

As stated by the minister, the objectives of the bill are to recognize and reduce vulnerability of trans and other gender diverse persons to the discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes and to affirm their equal status as Canadians.

I think the statistics are irrefutable that transgender people face high levels of discrimination and also a high risk of violent crime. Recent research by Egale Canada said 95% of transgendered students feel unsafe at school and nine out of 10 have been verbally harassed due to their gender expression.

I did some research as I was looking at my comments today, and I went to a document that the World Health Organization has put out. It is very interesting. It talks about gender identity versus sex, and it says we often tend to confuse and mix the two together. As a quick look at what it calls sex, typically females are XX and there are males who are XY, but babies are born with chromosome abnormalities—Turner syndrome, XXX females, hermaphroditism, and a whole host of issues—but clearly it says that is sex and it is determined by a range of chromosome complements, hormone balance, and phenotypic variants, which determine sex.

It puts out gender as being more of a social construct, and in western countries it has tended to be very binary in nature, whereas in other cultures it has been much more fluid. Certainly we look at sex and we predominantly have males and females, XX and XY, but we do look at there being a whole variant within sex. Having not a binary philosophy around how we look at gender, as many other cultures do, is something we should be looking at.

This is not an abstract discussion. I think everyone here knew people in high school who were much more comfortable with their circle of friends; and we just heard one of my colleagues talk about Terry, who had to run home from school to escape bullying and abuse. I think many of us had friends in high school whom we were aware of. Also, perhaps it was our mother's aunt, whom we loved as a child but perhaps wondered what made her seem a little different, and we could not quite put our finger on it.

We have talked a bit here about what the bill is. We have talked a bit about the WHO definition. I am going to focus some comments also on some arguments that have been put forward today against supporting the bill.

The first one is that transgendered people are already protected under the human rights code. The debate has been fairly comprehensive in that area and I have been convinced that there is not full protection. There are some loopholes in terms of our human rights code, and sex and sexual orientation do not completely cover off the protection that is necessary. It was certainly a valid argument. I have listened to both sides and I believe there are some gaps in terms of protection.

The other point is that this is a bit of a symbolic affirmation as well. Not only would it close a loophole, but it is important and symbolic. Here I would like to share a local example.

We had an editorial on our local radio that talked about whether we even needed pride parades anymore, that it is sort of over and done with, “Let's get on, everyone is accepted”. It was responded to by another local journalist who quite clearly articulated that if people thought homophobia and transphobia were over in Canada it was perhaps because they had never been queer. She then went on to talk about what it was like for her personally to move to a new community, to wonder if she was going to be accepted, and the challenges that she had in her everyday life.

The other thing we are hearing about is that perhaps there would be heterosexual predators who would take advantage of the bill and use it in terms of going after our young daughters and sons. I have been looking at recent examples of horrific crimes. Today we hear about someone in Nova Scotia, Klutzy the Clown. Last week, we heard about a teacher, a sports coach. We have heterosexual predators out there and our children must be protected from them, but I do not think that a trans person would use a single-occupancy restroom in order to perpetrate these crimes.

It is kind of interesting. I have thought about this at great length because I think that the people who have this concern are very concerned. We have a single washroom that we created in the park, and it was created for people with disabilities, for trans folks, and for others to access. It is a single washroom. The reaction that we got back because we had created a gender-neutral washroom was very stunning. On airplanes, there are gender-neutral washrooms.

This was a very interesting experience. My daughter went to university and she was staying in residence. I thought it was very strange that it was not only a co-ed floor but there were co-ed washrooms and showers at the university. I thought that was very strange and wondered how it was all going to work out. I asked her about it and she said that it was sort of strange at first but after the first week it was just normal in terms of that particular co-ed set-up. We perhaps worry about the bathroom issue in a way that we should not.

In conclusion, again I certainly know that we will be hearing more about this particular debate in committee and when we bring it back to the House. By supporting the bill in Parliament, we would send a collective, strong message and comfort to the many trans and gender diverse Canadians who have had a very difficult path in life. Again, I look forward to the continued debate.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been quoted often as saying we are stronger because of our diversity. I could not agree more. What makes Canada great is our pluralism and inclusiveness. However, what deeply concerns me is the statement that was made and echoed by the Minister of Justice this morning, which is that we must go beyond tolerance of differences to acceptance.

The reason I do not agree with this thinking is because it literally removes what makes Canada the great democracy it is, where we all have the right to think differently and make different choices and express contrary views without fear of repercussion. What we must do is accept all people. What we must not accept is the loss of respect for differences, views, and choices. We must accept people while respecting various views and varying choices.

I forgot to mention that I will be splitting my time with the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

Today, we are asked to consider extending these protections to include gender identity and gender expression. As elected officials, we have a duty to the Canadian public to exercise the best judgment we can to ensure that we continue to protect those already protected under the law, while considering the needs of those asking for additional considerations.

How does gender identity and expression differ from protection provisions already extended under the 1996 Canadian Human Rights Act to sexual orientation? Typically, a person's gender is consistent with the biological sex characteristics, resulting in an individual dressing and/or behaving in a way which is perceived by others as within generally accepted cultural gender norms. Gender, we are told today, is no longer based just on biological sex characteristics. Rather, it is based on what one feels he or she is or what one identifies with. Male, female, agender, genderqueer, trans man, trans woman, transgender, non-binary, even questioning, or unsure are some of the options. The vocabulary is continuing to evolve for those seeking new roles or identities for themselves.

Gender expression refers to the ways in which one may opt to manifest or express their masculinity or femininity. Sexual orientation can include heterosexual, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, or unsure, same gender loving, or others. If options for identifying oneself extend to questioning and unsure, how do we protect that? How does an individual know if he or she falls in this category? How is an employer supposed to know if he or she falls in this category? What about lawmakers and enforcement services?

With respect to the other provisions under the law, we provide citizens, businesses, service providers, and lawmakers with clear definitions, as we should. Will a new law protect people who have committed to and changed their identification, as well as those who want to change or think they want to change, or perhaps they have been thinking for the past couple of weeks they want to change, or in the last hour? It is a very broad spectrum we are asked to consider today, from “I feel like a woman today" to someone who has completely committed to the process, changed him or herself, has gone through transformational surgery, and now wants protection from discrimination.

As a business owner, if a male employee has been going to the men's washroom for 10 years, suddenly decides to go to the women's washroom and people hear a woman scream, is it discrimination to ask him to leave? Is the man just opting to put his toe in the water, so to speak, and now has the right to, or would a pervert possibly be kicked out? Where does the onus of responsibility lie to determine what the true circumstances are? Is this not putting an inordinate amount of responsibility on our employers, businesses, and service providers? Clearly, the females in this instance have rights, too, or do they? As do the businesses or service operators, or do they?

As a small business owner in a small family community, we have respectfully indicated to customers that we could not provide them the services they requested. Fortunately, they understood. Our consultation with a lawyer affirmed that we had the right to determine who our clientele was as he also had the right to determine what cases he wanted to take. Where the challenge exists is this. Tools are being used widely to promote a loss of diversity, not a growth in diversity. To think differently is being attacked with hate language and terminology that says, “If you disagree with me, then you hate me”, and that, in turn, is impacting other people's freedoms and choices.

I have taught my children to know what their values are and to make good choices based on those values. I have also taught them to value everyone, regardless of how their values and choices may differ from their own.

In the community we lived in until six years ago, there are mosques, gurdwaras, temples, and churches. The church that my husband pastored had the Christmas story told in 13 different languages. There were 83 different people groups, and my children were the minority as white Caucasians in their school. They have friends of different faiths, ethnic backgrounds, and sexual orientation. They have relationships regardless of their differences. This is true diversity and true acceptance.

I greatly respect the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke and the way that he reached out to the gay community of refugees coming to Canada. At the first briefing by the Minister of Immigration, the member asked how the gay community here could connect with a Syrian gay community coming into Canada as they were routinely discriminated against, harmed, and murdered. I expressed my absolute support for his desire to help them make the transition to Canada a safe and positive one.

No one should be persecuted or discriminated against for their choices or beliefs. However, the same could be said of the Yazidis and Christians, who are one of the four most vulnerable groups identified by the United Nations, who also are not in the camps at all, because they will be murdered there, and who often do not make it there, because they had been thrown overboard and drowned before they reached safety.

The question has to be asked. What is to be done when values and beliefs of individuals and faiths collide in Canada? Do we support one and attack another?

This is what is happening, and I fear could happen on an even larger scale when claims are made to the Human Rights Commission. Coexistence is what makes diversity great, not an artificial inclusiveness that simply moves the markers and tosses that which does not agree out of the equation by defining a different view, belief, or right to share that perspective as hateful.

As we start down this road, are we prepared to extend rights to every incarnation and how many more are going to evolve? Should something as important as our human rights charter and Criminal Code be this fluid?

I had also hoped to provide a definite number respecting how many individuals were requiring gender identity and gender expression protection. Unfortunately, like its definition, there are no clear hard core numbers or studies readily available for reference.

The gender identity and gender expression population is estimated to range from 1% to 3%. Every population is important and should not be discriminated against. However, should the needs of a small and broadly-defined minority of 1% to 3% outweigh the concerns of the general population that equally has and share those rights?

As discussed, the labels for this population are continually morphing and evolving, and the numbers that identify with this population are somewhat dubious at best. In our zeal to want to be seen as fair and open-minded, we seem to have forgotten the faces of those whose equal rights also exist. If we are in fact prepared to pass this law and let everyone do whatever they want on any given day or whim, do we not have a responsibility to ensure that we are not now discriminating against the larger population's health, safety, and quality of life?

Proponents of the bill should or would have no issue, I would think, with a grown man coming into a women's locker room to shower, as the bill would allow a self-identifying or expressing man in this case to do so if he so chose. However, aside from those who are comfortable with it, there is a large percentage of the population that is not.

Women's rest rooms and locker rooms are traditionally family changing rooms. By passing the bill, are we then be saying that a person's need to express his or her gender or identity foreshadows the mother's need to also protect her child from seeing a naked man at, let us say, a YMCA children's swim class? Have we really gone this far in our society? Is this really where the majority of Canadians want to evolve or aspire to?

With incidents of violence increasing against women and children, and, yes, against men, and with incidents of sexual predators on the rise, child kidnappings and so forth, and we see it all the time in our news, is it prudent for responsible legislators to expand this umbrella so irresponsibly?

To ask the majority of Canadians to give up their own rights to privacy and to gender identity and expression, and bear the cost for the same, is asking too much. I am confident that a good portion of our society agrees with this.

For these reasons, I accept, embrace, and support the rights of all individuals to live without discrimination for their values, beliefs, and choices in Canada, and so I cannot support Bill C-16.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 12:50 p.m.
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Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Richmond Hill for his eloquent and detailed explanation of why he supports Bill C-16.

At the end of his speech, he highlighted what was happening in Ontario and in Richmond Hill with respect to the legislation they adopted. Could he elaborate on what other provinces and territories have done to advance the cause for gender identity and gender expression through their legislation?

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I take great pride in having the opportunity to participate in this debate and lend my support on such an important and much-awaited bill, Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

The bill proposes to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity or gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination. It also would amend the Criminal Code to add gender identity or expression to the definition of identifiable group for the purpose of the hate propaganda offences and to the list of aggravating circumstances for hate crime sentencing. Furthermore, it would allow longer sentences for criminal offenders motivated by hate based on gender identity or gender expression.

In simple words, the bill would recognize that trans individuals are equally deserving of protection from discrimination based on gender identity as are all Canadians protected from discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, and conviction of an offence for which a pardon has been granted.

I am also proud that it is a Liberal government proposing the bill, just as it was a Liberal government in 1996 that amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation in this list. It has been 20 years since that aspect of Canada's human rights act was amended. It is now 2016, and it is time that we modernize our laws to truly reflect our society and our diversity. Of course, I strongly acknowledge and commend my NDP colleagues for their leadership in the previous session in the promotion and raising awareness of these gaps in our legislation to the House.

As has previously, repeatedly been mentioned and is certainly a point worth reiterating, trans and gender diverse persons have been disproportionately impacted by discrimination and hate crimes. A survey conducted by Trans Pulse project in 2010 showed that out of 500 transgendered respondents in Ontario, 13% had been fired and 18% were refused employment based on transgendered status. Twenty per cent had been physically or sexually assaulted, but unfortunately not all of these assaults were reported to the police.

It does not stop there. Trans individuals also face daily bullying at home, in school, in the streets, in malls, and in many other places. According to a large-scale survey of LGBTQ across Canada conducted by Egale Canada, 68% of trans students reported being verbally harassed about their perceived gender identity; 49% of the trans students have experienced sexual harassment in school in the last year, as of 2011; and 90% of trans youth reported hearing trans-phobic comments daily directed at them, but what is sad is that 20% of these students reported hearing some of these comments from the teachers.

In passing the legislation we would not only show transgender and gender diverse individuals that they do deserve protection, that they are recognized by our government, and that our country's legislation does protect and represent all Canadians regardless of their gender identity or expression. As well, by enshrining trans and gender diverse individuals as a separate recognized group in our law, law enforcement agencies would be better able to carry out their duties.

Let me explain. As it stands, our law enforcement personnel are not as properly trained to understand and respond to crimes related to gender identity as they should be. Furthermore, because there is no separate recognition of trans and gender diverse persons in our legislation, it also means that we lack the appropriate data from our government to have a better understanding of the depth of the problem in our society. Without this understanding and without data, it will be difficult to appropriately address the issue.

Additionally, the impact of hate crimes and bullying does not end at the point at which the act has ended. The impact has far more severe ramifications on the mental health of the victims. In a survey conducted by Trans Pulse in Ontario in 2014, it was reported that of those who have experienced physical assault, 56% have seriously considered suicide and 29% have attempted suicide. In the same survey, 35% of those that have faced verbal abuse seriously considered suicide, compared to 8% who attempted suicide. What is concerning is that 28% of individuals have seriously considered and 4% attempted suicide even though they have not been subject to physical nor verbal abuse.

What this suggests is that mental health issues are rampant amongst this segment of the population in Canada. We must act now to address these issues. Today, we are taking the first step in introducing the legislation. However, in the future, further steps must be taken, which will be facilitated by the passing of the bill. These steps would include providing adequate training to our health care providers to assess and quickly react to possible mental health trigger warning signs, to identify the root causes of mental health issues, and to assist victims in finding appropriate recourse through the law.

Next steps would be promotional and advocacy campaigns that raise awareness of these issues, that provide adequate training to all stakeholders in question, and that show trans and gender diverse Canadians that they are included, respected, protected, and cared for.

I am proud to come from a riding that has already enshrined gender expression and gender identity in its policy. For instance, in 2014, Richmond Hill, through its employment accommodation procedure, aligned its employment policy with the Ontario Human Rights Code and included gender identity and gender expression under the definition of protected groups, whereby individuals from the trans and gender diverse population can seek recourse for employment discrimination through this policy.

Ontario has adopted such a bill into its legislation. Richmond Hill has adopted such a policy into its regulations. It is time for the federal government to follow suit. I look forward to being part of a society that is tolerant and inclusive, achieved by passing a bill that seeks to achieve just that.

I encourage all my colleagues to support the bill.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, violence on any level is unacceptable. Bill C-16 would ensure that there are adequate protections for transgendered individuals in our legislation.

When our diverse communities know that they have grounds to stand on that are actually written in our Criminal Code and in our Canadian Human Rights Act, they are empowered to say, when they get to that door and are turned away or are not treated in a respectful way that pays attention to their injustice, that they have grounds to stand on. They can fight with others who are their allies to ensure that it never happens to anyone else in the future.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the concerns I have about the implementation of Bill C-16 is based on testimony we recently heard at the status of women committee in our study on violence against women. In this testimony, we heard that in one location, 40% of the women who showed up at the police station claiming to have been sexually assaulted were turned away at the door.

How will the government ensure that Bill C-16, if supported, will be rolled out in a way that will take reports of discrimination or violence against transgendered people seriously?

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 12:25 p.m.
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Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Richmond Hill today.

I am very honoured to stand here today to support Bill C-16, which aims to amend both the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to add gender identity and expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination.

Canadians rightly expect their government, and their laws, to respect their fundamental values. It is something Canada does very well on so many fronts, but we all know that we can do better.

I am very pleased to be here today to talk about why I believe that this bill will do a great service for Canadians by bringing our current legislation more in line with some of the values we hold dear.

We, as Canadians, are fortunate to live in a country that embraces diversity. We see diversity as a strength and are rightly proud to celebrate those from all walks of life who contribute to the Canadian tapestry and our society.

We also know that diversity in our society did not happen by accident. The extension and protection of rights has been a work in progress for more than half a century. The two items we are here to discuss amending today, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the hate speech section of the Criminal Code, are fundamental to that work.

The changes proposed today are another step toward our goal of being a society free from bias and discrimination and in which every Canadian is valued and protected. The Canadian Human Rights Act, in conjunction with human rights legislation provincially and territorially, has played, and continues to play, a fundamental role in ensuring that Canadians, regardless of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, or other grounds, can participate fully and equally in all aspects of Canadian life.

Unfortunately, we know that trans and gender-diverse persons have been, and continue to be, disproportionately impacted by discrimination and hate crimes. This, quite simply, is unacceptable.

We can, and we must, do more to ensure that gender-diverse Canadians are free from discrimination and are protected from hate propaganda and hate crimes. Bill C-16 would be critical in addressing the real and dangerous discrimination faced by gender-diverse and transgender individuals.

I would first like to speak about the amendments this bill would make to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The act is crucial in ensuring that Canadians have equal opportunities to live, work, and carry out their daily lives without discrimination, but it is not working for everyone. In a 2010 survey of 500 transgender individuals in Ontario, 13% of respondents indicated that they had been fired, and 18% were refused employment based upon their transgender status.

Again, this is unacceptable.

By adding gender expression and gender identity to the list of prohibited discriminatory grounds, we would make sure that all Canadians, regardless of gender identity, would have equal opportunities to participate in every facet of Canadian life.

Inclusion of gender identity as prohibited grounds for discrimination would be much more than just words on paper. It would provide individuals who have complaints with access to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. It would provide a fair and comprehensive process to ensure the protection of their rights and an opportunity for redress in cases where those rights were not respected.

It is my steadfast belief that when we extend and protect the rights of some Canadians, we do a great service not for just those individuals but for all Canadians.

Respect for human rights is so fundamental to who we are as Canadians that whenever we can act to do better to protect and enshrine rights in this country, we have a duty to do so.

Bill C-16 would also make important amendments to the Criminal Code to add gender expression and identity to the list of distinguishing characteristics of an identifiable group to ensure greater protection from hate speech and crimes motivated by hate.

The same survey I referenced earlier found that 20% of transgender individuals who responded had been physically and sexually assaulted, and far too many of these crimes were not reported to police.

Violence and hateful propaganda must never be tolerated in a fair and peaceful country like Canada, but when those crimes are motivated by hatred of specific or identifiable groups, it is incumbent upon us to do more to protect those targeted individuals and to hold the people accountable for their actions. The amendments to the Criminal Code proposed in this bill would provide increased protections for gender-diverse individuals and would permit longer sentences in cases where a crime was motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate.

We are under no illusion that the changes in the bill will end all discrimination against transgender and diverse populations, but it is an important step, one that builds on the advocacy work that those in the LGBTQ+ community and their allies have done for many years. I am proud that the Government of Canada is now catching up. These changes would put in place fundamental protections needed to ensure a basic level of protection.

There is more we can do. We must ensure equity for gender-diverse Canadians, but it starts with ensuring their inclusion in the Criminal Code.

On a personal note, it is particularly important to me to speak today to the bill, because as a black person and as a woman, there have been periods in Canadian history when people who look like me were not viewed as persons. During Women's History Month, and particularly today, on Persons Day, it is important to recognize this. I am a generation removed from those fights, so I recognize that the privilege given to me to serve in the House of Commons requires me, it is my duty, to do all I can to help extend those rights to all.

Further, I have three children at home, and in everything I do I cannot help but think about how it will affect their lives. It is important to me that they know that they are growing up in a Canada where same-sex marriage is the law of the land. This particular bill is a further extension of the values we hold dear and the values my children, as young as they are, hold very dear.

I hope that 20 years from now, there will be a generation of children for whom the idea of discrimination based on gender identity, or any other discrimination, is unthinkable. Bill C-16 is critical in making that a reality.

I would like to commend my colleague, the hon. Minister of Justice, for her hard work on this file. Her obvious commitment to diversity and inclusion is an example to all of us in the chamber. I want to thank her for her leadership. I am proud to stand with her today in supporting this legislation, and I encourage all my colleagues in the House to do the same.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

I rise today as well to speak to Bill C-16, a government bill that proposes to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

As the minister's summary of the bill reads:

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.

My colleagues will recall that these essential elements of the bill descend from the last Parliament where they were essentially contained in a private member's Bill C-279. Members will also recall that the bill was passed on to the upper house, with 149 votes in favour and 137 votes against. However, the bill died on the red chamber's order paper.

I voted against Bill C-279, on March 20, 2013, and I will vote against the successor legislation, Bill C-16, as well. I am pleased to have this opportunity to explain why.

I am passionately in favour of the legal protection of all Canadians from discrimination in its many forms. I am passionately in favour of the legal protection of all Canadians from hate crimes. I am proud of the laws that have evolved over the years, and the reality that Canada is recognized around the world for our recognition of diversity and equality under the law.

I am proud that the current Canadian Human Rights Act defends the principle, when it states:

...that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.

I am proud of the Criminal Code as written today, which defines that “...identifiable group means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability”.

As well, the Criminal Code provides in section 718.2, states:

A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:

...a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender...[on] evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor...

When the original version of the bill was debated in the previous Parliament, the then parliamentary secretary for the minister of justice, Mr. Robert Goguen, eloquently explained the redundancy of the similar proposed amendments to include gender identity or expression. He reminded parliamentarians that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal had already accepted and considered a number of complaints brought by trans persons on the grounds of sex. In fact, Mr. Goguen argued that the ground of sex in any discrimination law was interpreted broadly, having evolved over the years, and was usually understood to cover discrimination complaints not based only on sex, but on pregnancy, childbirth, and transsexualism.

The examples of tribunal use of the existing grounds already in the act provided clear and consistent evidence that the existing Human Rights Act already recognized that discrimination on the basis of transsexualism was discrimination on the basis of sex or gender, as well as discrimination on the basis of disability.

The parliamentary secretary to the justice minister then said:

For similar reasons, we may wish to ask ourselves whether it is necessary to add these grounds to the sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code. The section in question lists a number of deemed aggravating circumstances on sentencing, including evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability or any other similar factor. Again, the list includes sex, and it also refers to any other similar factor. Consequently, judges may already be able to impose longer sentences for hate crimes against transsexual persons in appropriate circumstances.

I think it is clear, for all of the reasons cited today, that the amendments to both the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code are unnecessary.

Let me stress again that I am passionately in favour of the legal protection of all Canadians from hate crimes. I am proud of the laws that have evolved over the years, and the reality that Canada is recognized around the world for our recognition of diversity equality. I am proud of the work done by fellow colleagues in the House to respect, protect, and improve the lot of trans persons in Canadian society.

I believe, firmly and sympathetically, that trans persons facing discrimination in federally regulated work places and in accessing federally regulated services are already protected by the current act and the code. I also firmly believe that the amendments proposed in Bill C-16 are redundant and unnecessary, and I will respectfully oppose this bill.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / noon
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Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Thornhill.

I rise today to speak to Bill C-16, which I believe is an important legislative measure to prevent all forms of discrimination against all Canadians, regardless of their colour, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression, and that includes transgendered Canadians.

Over the years, a great deal of progress has been made in terms of social acceptance and our mentality has changed. What seemed unimaginable 20 years ago is now a normal part of our everyday lives.

We are less focused on individual characteristics and more focused on who we are as a society. Society is made up of different people and different personalities.

I am going to give a simple analogy to describe social progress. Social progress works the same way as a three-legged race. If people walk in step and agree to work together, the team makes progress.

Every member of the House is different, has their own story and their own path. Every one of us has dealt with different situations and we all react differently. Our differences should never stop progress, but instead allow it to take flight.

Justice is extremely important to me. That is why I think it is important to have an open and respectful discussion on this. My mindset is to live and let live. My personal experience forced me to be open to realities other than my own, which led me to be open to differences. At first we are confronted by and conflicted about the unfamiliar, but over time we learn, try to understand, and do not judge.

As my father used to say, never judge anyone until you have walked in their shoes. He was right. We were elected by secret ballot. We do not know the identity of those who voted for us. That is another reason for us to govern for all Canadians by ensuring that respect and equality prevail.

Canada, our country, my country, has always been and continues to be a leader when it comes to progress and individual rights. I could not be prouder of my country, Canada, when it comes to social progress. Canada leads the world in terms of fostering social acceptance and reducing crime and hate speech on its own soil.

Women won the right to vote 100 years ago under the Conservative government of Robert Borden; people from all origins have been welcomed to our country every year for centuries; and gay marriage was legalized over 10 years ago. It has always been a priority to protect minorities to make it easier for them to be included in society. We must continue the trend and protect people of all gender identities, so that they can be an important part of our society and contribute to it without enduring prejudice or disparaging and intolerant remarks.

In 1982, the Constitution Act guaranteed a number of rights, including democratic rights, equality rights, legal rights, and especially the fundamental freedom of opinion and expression. Some will say that freedom of expression should be taken for everything it means. I agree, but let us go over the meaning of each of those words.

The word “expression” amounts to saying or writing what we really think and feel. The word “freedom” is about the absence of submissiveness and the ability to do as we wish.

However, freedom does not mean the absence of barriers, obstacles, or limits. Freedom of expression, like all the freedoms we enjoy, must include lines in the sand that must not be crossed. For instance, we all have the right to drive, but that does not give us the right to speed and put the lives of others at risk. We also have the right to smoke, but we cannot do so in restaurants, because it jeopardizes the health of those around us. The same is true of freedom.

Basically, we are free to do as we please, as long as it does not harm other people around us. I recognize, however, that it is hard to set limits around freedom, because it cannot be measured; it is not black and white. That it why I am so glad we are having this kind of debate in the House today.

I will be voting for this bill in the name of equality and respect for the individual rights of all people. As a Conservative, I represent people who advocate for maintaining law and order. I sincerely believe that in a world where people respect one another, society can make better progress.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 11:45 a.m.
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Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, Tuesday May 17 was an important day. It was the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. It was a day to recognize the efforts of everyone who has fought for equality, freedom, and respect for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, non-binary, and two-spirited persons. It was a day to celebrate the achievements of advocates and their friends and supporters in making Canada a more inclusive place in which to live. It was a day to look forward to a time when all societies embrace their diversity and draw strength and vibrancy from it.

May 17 was also the day on which the Minister of Justice introduced Bill C-16 to the House of Commons. The legislation proposes to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to add two prohibited grounds of discrimination, gender identity and gender expression. As a result of this amendment, it would be a discriminatory practice in matters of employment and the provision of goods, services, facilities, and accommodation, in the federal jurisdiction, to disadvantage people because of their gender identity or expression.

The legislation also proposes to amend the Criminal Code. It would expand the list of identifiable groups that are protected from hate propaganda by adding gender identity or expression to that list. Finally, it would make it explicit that hatred on the basis of gender identity or expression should be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing for a criminal offence. These are very important amendments.

The Canadian Human Rights Act advances the principle that all individuals should have an equal opportunity to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have, without being hindered by discrimination. All Canadians should be able to turn to the act and see their rights and obligations spelled out clearly. However, it is not evident from the current words of the act that trans and gender diverse persons have a right to equal treatment.

It is true that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has interpreted the act to prohibit discrimination against trans persons in some cases, but these interpretations are not easily accessible to the trans community, employers, or service providers who need to know whom the act protects. Moreover, these decisions concern particular individuals in particular situations. The full scope of protection for trans and gender diverse persons is not clear, particularly in relation to gender expression.

Gender expression refers to the ways in which people express their gender through choices such as clothing, personal appearance, name, use of pronouns, and other forms of expression. Adding this ground to the Canadian Human Rights Act would offer clear protection against discrimination by employers and service providers who would deny Canadians their dignity simply because they express their gender differently.

Trans people who have been discriminated against should not have to become expert in statutory interpretation or criminal law to advocate for their basic rights. It is not enough to hope that employers and service providers will look beyond the words of the act. As the bill proposes, Parliament should add these grounds to the Canadian Human Rights Act, as well as the Criminal Code, so they would be in the statute book for all to see.

Make no mistake, there is no doubt that trans or gender diverse persons face an elevated risk of violence at the hands of others. The Trans Pulse project studied the experiences of approximately 500 transgendered Ontarians. That study concluded the following:

Trans people are the targets of specifically directed violence; 20% had been physically or sexually assaulted for being trans, and another 34% had been verbally threatened or harassed....

In 2011, a study by Egale Canada indicated very high levels of verbal, physical, and sexual harassment against transgendered persons.

Transgendered Canadians are often discriminated against by their own family members. No group of people should be exposed to that kind of daily threat. Given the high levels of violence and threats of violence against trans people, it is clear that our laws require measures to specifically denounce the violence and discrimination inflicted on the individuals because of hatred of their gender identity or gender expression.

Our duty as parliamentarians goes beyond simply maintaining the good order set out in legislation. Canadians expect us to speak on their behalf, recognize their qualities and vulnerabilities, as well as affirm and protect their basic rights and their dignity.

This bill is not only an opportunity for us to reinforce our support for transgendered Canadians, but also an opportunity for the House to send a clear message to all Canadians that they can now feel safe and free to be themselves.

On May 17, when I stood beside the Minister of Justice to announce this legislation, we were joined by people who were well aware of the need for this bill.

They, and we, saw in this bill a real sign of acceptance and unity. This bill says to every transgender and gender-diverse person that they do not need to choose between being safe and being who they are. This bill says to young people in all parts of this country who are struggling to understand themselves, who are realizing that they are a bit different from their peers, that it is okay to be different and that they are special, that they are unique, and that they belong.

This bill sends a clear signal to our transgender and gender-diverse community members that the government will not stand for discrimination and that we stand with them, shoulder to shoulder. For any members of this House who may be considering voting no on this important legislation, I must ask why. This bill is about equality. It is about respect for diversity. Even if they cannot fully understand the lives of our transgender community, surely they can understand that no group of people should live under such threat of violence in our country.

I appeal to each and every one of my colleagues in the House to support this important issue.

I stand with all trans and gender-diverse persons, and I call on this House to affirm their equal status in Canada, and I will fight every day to ensure they are protected and free to live their lives safely and free from fear. I do so as a member of this House who is a proud, openly gay man. I was able to earn a place in this House because of the hard work of those who went before me who stood to be counted, people who stood up to discrimination, who fought for individual rights, who stood for inclusivity and acceptance, who were bullied, and against whom the laws discriminated in the past.

Today, I and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the trans community to say, “No more”, and that we will continue to fight and stand up for those who still need our protection.

To conclude, the proposed changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code's sentencing provisions would help to create a better and safer Canada that is inclusive of all forms of diversity. I urge all members of this House to support the passage of this important bill.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 11:30 a.m.
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Thunder Bay—Superior North Ontario

Liberal

Patty Hajdu LiberalMinister of Status of Women

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Centre.

I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

The bill is designed to support and facilitate the inclusion of transgender and other gender diverse people in Canadian society. Diversity and inclusion are values that are important to us as Canadians, yet we have heard repeatedly from trans and gender diverse Canadians that they still do not feel safe or fully included in Canadian society. Social science research also shows that many transgender and other gender diverse Canadians are not yet able to fully participate in our society. They face negative stereotypes, harassment, discrimination, and sometimes violence.

We know that discrimination and violence have significant impacts on social participation and an individual's sense of safety in the public sphere. Research conducted by the Trans Pulse survey found that approximately two-thirds of trans people in Ontario had avoided public spaces or situations because they feared being harassed or being perceived or outed as trans. The survey also indicated that the majority of trans Ontarians had avoided public washrooms because of these fears. Trans Ontarians also avoided travelling abroad, going to the gym, shopping at the mall, and eating out in restaurants, all commonplace everyday activities and pleasures that many of us are able to enjoy comfortably. However, for many trans people, these activities can be fearful because of their previous experiences of harassment and discrimination.

The research also shows that transgender or other gender diverse people face significant obstacles in obtaining employment. This is not due to a lack of qualifications. The Trans Pulse survey results I mentioned earlier showed that 44% have a post-secondary degree, but trans people are significantly underemployed, with many having been fired or turned down for a job because they are trans. Others felt that they had to turn down a job that they were offered because of a lack of a trans-positive or safe work environment.

It is clear that too many transgender and gender diverse people are being deprived of the opportunity to contribute to and flourish in our society. This is important not just for trans people but for us all. When a person loses an opportunity to work or is too fearful to go out shopping or eat in a restaurant, we all lose a potential contribution to the workplace, to the economy, and to our collective social life. Discrimination is a matter of concern to us all. It both undermines the freedom of those individuals to make the life they are able and wish to have, and it deprives us all of their participation in our society.

The bill would be just the beginning but is an important beginning. It is another step toward greater acceptance and inclusion. By adding the grounds of gender identity and gender expression to the prohibited grounds of discrimination listed in sections 2 and 3 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, we would protect the freedom to live openly.

The amendments proposed by the bill would make it clear that discrimination in employment against trans people is unacceptable and a violation of the Canadian Human Rights Act. An employer cannot refuse to hire or promote a qualified individual simply because that person is trans or gender diverse. These amendments will make it clear that federally regulated employers and service providers will need to provide accommodation for transgender and other gender diverse individuals when required and treat them in a manner that corresponds with their lived gender. Explicit recognition will also serve to promote understanding and awareness about trans people and their rights.

I now want to address one of the amendments that the bill proposes to make to the Criminal Code, which is to expand the hate propaganda offences in the Criminal Code to protect those who are targeted because of their gender identity or gender expression. To put this proposal in context, it is useful to give some of the history of these offences.

There are three crimes of hate propaganda. They were created in 1970. These are now found in sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code. These offences are advocating or promoting genocide against an identifiable group, inciting hatred against an identifiable group in a public place that is likely to lead to a breach of the peace, and willfully promoting hatred, other than in private conversation, against an identifiable group.

As we can see, a key element for all of these offences is the term “identifiable group”. When the hate propaganda offences were first created and for many years afterward, the definition of identifiable group was very limited in scope. It was defined in the Criminal Code to mean a section of the public that was identifiable on the basis of race, colour, religion, and ethnic origin.

In 2001, the then member of Parliament for Burnaby—Douglas introduced in the House Bill C-415, later reinstated as Bill C-250, and entitled “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda)”. This bill proposed to add sexual orientation to the definition of identifiable group in the Criminal Code. The member quoted in support of his bill a statement made by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1990 case of R. v. Keegstra, which upheld the constitutionality of the hate propaganda offence of wilfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group. The Supreme Court said:

The harms caused by [hate propaganda] run directly counter to the values central to a free and democratic society, and in restricting the promotion of hatred Parliament is therefore seeking to bolster the notion of mutual respect necessary in a nation which venerates the equality of all persons.

In 2004, Bill C-250 became law. As a result, the definition of identifiable group was expanded to include sexual orientation as an identifiable group for the crimes of hate propaganda.

I will now fast-track to 2014, when Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, received royal assent. One section of that bill amended the definition of identifiable group for the hate propaganda offences by adding more groups to that definition, specifically the criteria of national origin, sex, age, and mental or physical disability. As we have seen, the definition of identifiable group has been expanded considerably since 1970. This expansion reflects a commitment to equality and the desire of Canadians to protect more and more vulnerable groups in our society from the serious harms to human dignity that flow from the type of vicious hate speech prohibited by these Criminal Code provisions.

Bill C-16 proposes to add two new terms to the definition of identifiable group: gender identity and gender expression. Such an expansion is eminently justifiable on two grounds.

First, this expansion would extend to those in our society who are identifiable on the basis of gender identity and gender expression the same protections already afforded to other groups in Canadian society, such as those identifiable on the basis of their sex and sexual orientation. This would help to promote equality before the law and throughout Canadian society for trans people.

Second, this expansion would explicitly recognize that those who are identifiable on the basis of their gender identity and gender expression are in need of protection by the criminal law. For example, the Trans Pulse survey I mentioned earlier indicates that trans people are the targets of specifically directed violence; 20% had been physically or sexually assaulted for being trans, and another 34% had been verbally threatened or harassed but not assaulted.

Here in Canada, we criminalize hate propaganda, in part because it undermines the dignity and respect of the targeted group. It undermines their sense of belonging and inclusion in society. Adding gender identity and gender expression to the list would send a clear message that hate propaganda against trans and other gender diverse individuals is not acceptable.

I encourage all members of the House to support this bill.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 11:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I definitely support the need to eliminate discrimination against transgendered people. I also share the member's frustration with the Liberal government, and its tendency to talk a good story and then not take any actions.

I wonder if the member could say what actions she would like to see once Bill C-16 is enacted to make sure that it is most effective in eliminating this discrimination.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, here is a boy, and here is a girl. Easy, right? Not so fast. Let us just say that it is a bit more complicated than that. Sex assignment is not always clear-cut. Genetically, a person with two X chromosomes is a woman, and a person with an X chromosome and a Y chromosome is a man. However, some people have just a single X chromosome, and others have three. Others have two or three X chromosomes and one Y chromosome, while still others might have two Y chromosomes and one X chromosome. Clearly, this is anything but simple.

The bill before us today, Bill C-16, makes no mention of genetics. However, it does address an equally complex subject, that of gender identity and gender expression.

As far back as the 1950s, we began to understand that a person cannot be defined merely by his or her physical sexual characteristics and to distinguish between “sex” and “gender”. In 1994, United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the following in a briefing:

The word gender has acquired the new and useful connotation of cultural or attitudinal characteristics (as opposed to physical characteristics) distinctive to the sexes. That is to say, gender is to sex as feminine is to female and masculine is to male.

I think it bears repeating, so once again, the word “gender” has acquired the new and useful connotation of cultural or attitudinal characteristics as opposed to physical characteristics, distinctive to the sexes. That is to say, gender is to sex as feminine is to female and masculine is to male.

Justice Scalia clearly states that “sex” and “gender” are two different things.

Transgendered individuals are people whose sexual identity does not correspond to the physical sexual characteristics with which they were born. They literally do not feel comfortable in their own skin, in the body nature gave them. They feel feminine, but have a male body, or they feel masculine, but have a female body.

With that in mind, it is easy to imagine the discrimination, prejudice, harassment, and violence these individuals are often subjected to. A shy teen, a small man, and a kid with above-average intelligence are often harassed. Now imagine someone who is transgendered.

Statistics are an excellent way to illustrate the discrimination transgendered people are subjected to. In Ontario, for example, 71% of transgendered individuals earn less than $30,000 a year. My colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke provided some statistics earlier on poverty rates among transgendered people, and those figures were far more grim than what I just mentioned.

According to Egale Canada, 90% of of transgendered students reported being bullied on a daily or weekly basis. That is a lot. In addition, a few months ago, a medical clinic in Montreal that performs gender-affirming surgery was targeted by arson.

The prejudice and violence are very real. That is why, over the past several years, the NDP has been introducing bills in the House of Commons of Canada to stand up for the rights of transgendered Canadians and protect them from discrimination.

The main purpose of these bills was to add protections to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code based on gender identity and gender expression. That is what Bill Siksay, the former NDP member for Burnaby—Douglas in British Columbia, did in 2005. Because he thought this cause was so important, he introduced the bill twice in the House of Commons, in 2006-07 and 2008-09.

This issue is so important to the NDP that my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, who sits beside me, took up the torch and almost succeeded in having the bill passed in Parliament. The Green Party, the Bloc Québécois, and many Liberal and Conservative members voted in favour of it.

However, the unelected and unaccountable Senate decided to let the bill die on the Order Paper, even though it had been passed by members who were duly elected by Canadians.

As a result, after over 10 years of debate, these people, who are too often the victims of harassment and violence, still do not have any protection. The NDP is therefore pleased to see the government introduce Bill C-16. We have been asking for this for a long time. However, I am worried that this is just smoke and mirrors.

Since I am an optimist, I want to believe that the government really intends to protect this vulnerable segment of the population. After all, the last time, all of the Liberal members who were present for the vote voted in favour of Bill C-279, which was introduced by my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke.

However, this time, the context is different. Today, the Liberals form the government and hold a majority of seats in the House of Commons. They can therefore ensure that Bill C-16 is passed at second and third reading. I challenge them to do so.

The House has passed this bill twice already and the government can ensure that it passes quickly through all stages of the legislative process. Then there would be one remaining important stage, which, in my political party, we would be happy to do without. However, since the Senate still exists, we will have to work with it. I challenge the Liberals to talk to their Senate colleagues, those the Prime Minister kicked out of the Liberal caucus, but who still feel like Liberals, and to convince them that the changes that Bill C-16 makes to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code are just and important to transgendered people.

As far as my Conservative colleagues are concerned, during the March 2013 vote, 18 of them, including some cabinet ministers, supported a similar bill introduced by my NDP colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. Other members among their ranks, including their leader, recently said that they would support Bill C-16. I hope that many others will join them to ensure that this bill is finally passed.

I would hope that, as with the Liberals, these Conservative members who see the merits of this cause will work to ensure that their Senate colleagues do not allow this bill to die on the benches of the other place yet again. I think it would be a national disgrace if this bill is not passed.

Bill C-16 would add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in section 2 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. It would also amend the Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression as distinguishing characteristics protected under section 318, and as an aggravating circumstance to be taken into consideration under section 718.2, hate crimes, at the time of sentencing.

Since 1970, 948 transgendered people have been murdered around the world. This number is probably much higher, but most countries, including Canada, do not note the status of transgender in files involving violence.

Nevertheless, the evidence is clear: transgender people are victims of discrimination, prejudice, harassment, and violence. Therefore, it would be disgraceful to let down transgender Canadians once again. Trans and non-binary gender Canadians have been waiting for far too long to have legal rights in Canada.

Let us work together for this humanitarian cause and ensure that Bill C-16 passes quickly in the House of Commons and in committee, and just as quickly in the Senate, so that it becomes a law that Canadians can be proud of.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question and I know her great sincerity in addressing this issue before the House. The simple answer is of course I do. It is not the total solution. Passing laws never solves everything, but passing a law like Bill C-16 is an expression of our collective will as Canadians to do better and our collective will to make sure that we are an inclusive society that leaves no one behind.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I agree with the member for St. Albert—Edmonton that Bill C-16 does not actually add anything to the legal framework, but it does not take anything away either. One concern I have is that even with the existing laws that we have in the provinces and federally, we continue to see discrimination and persecution of transgendered people. Does the member believe that implementing Bill C-16 will really fix this problem?

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 11 a.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of Bill C-16, and I am pleased this time to be supporting a government bill to guarantee the same rights and protection to transgender Canadians that the rest of us already enjoy.

I thank the Minister of Justice for adopting my original private member's bill as a government bill, and for inviting me along to her press conference. I also want to thank her for reaching out to the trans community before the bill's introduction and consulting with those who are at the heart of this debate.

Yet, I cannot help but be disappointed to be still standing here today more than five years after I introduced my private member's bill, Bill C-279. I know many of us continue to feel frustrated at the delays in seeing this bill become law. It is an important bill in that it would fill the largest remaining gap in Canadian human rights legislation.

Over the past five years, I have had the privilege of having my name associated with the legislation, but I want to make it clear that the progress that has been made is a result not of my efforts but of those from the trans community who have stepped forward to demand that they be treated with the same dignity and respect as all other Canadians.

Over the past five years, I have learned much, and it does bear restating that gay men have not always been the best friends of our trans brothers and sisters. I learned a great deal from a first nation sister, a trans woman who travelled a very rocky road but is now a successful small business owner in Vancouver. I learned much from a trans man who became a distinguished therapist now working with others facing transition issues. I learned from a trans woman who had to rebuild her career as a concert pianist after transitioning. I learned from a friend who now holds the first chair in transgender studies at UVic, home of the world's only transgender archives and the first transgender studies program. I learned a great deal from my friend and political ally who is a tireless community activist in Toronto. I learned from many others, including students, consultants, office workers, factory workers, sex workers, and street kids.

While this proposed legislation has been languishing before the federal Parliament, some progress has still been made. While I would like to think the debate here provokes that progress elsewhere, it is clear that we have lost the chance in this Parliament to be a leader on the question of equal rights. In the meantime, seven provinces have adopted corresponding provincial human rights legislation: Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia in 2012; Newfoundland and P.E.I. in 2013; Saskatchewan in 2014; and B.C. and Quebec, this year, 2016.

The issue of trans rights is not a partisan issue, thank goodness. Amendments to protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity were proposed by NDP governments in Manitoba and Nova Scotia, a Liberal government in P.E.I., and Conservative governments in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland. Those amendments passed with all-party support in Ontario and British Columbia.

Nor are trans rights an issue restricted to the Canadian context. Now, more than 18 countries have explicit protections of the kind proposed in Bill C-16, and the list may surprise members. Argentina has been a world leader in the protection of the rights of transgender citizens, but the list also includes Uruguay, Bolivia, Spain, France, Ireland, Estonia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Israel, Cypress, Nepal, Australia, and New Zealand, among others.

In the United States, 16 states, plus the District of Columbia, provide explicit protections for transgender residents, but unfortunately some states also specifically allow discrimination against the trans community, most recently with new legislation in North Carolina.

In Canada, some public institutions and private companies have chosen to act without waiting for legislation. The Canadian Labour Congress has produced guides for transition in the workplace for use by all of its affiliates to ease transitions in unionized workplaces. Others have also moved forward, including the big banks, like the Toronto-Dominion Bank and the Royal Bank.

I will now return to Parliament. The bill was first introduced by former NDP MP Bill Siksay in 2005, again in 2007, and again in 2009. In the spring of 2010, on his third attempt, Bill actually saw his bill pass by the House, only to see it die in the Senate when an election was called.

My bill, Bill C-279, was passed by the House in March 2013, and before the 2015 election, it had passed through all stages in the Senate, bar one.

Therefore, I urge the House today to deal with the legislation as quickly as possible. I am confident the bill will pass second reading for the third time today, and I am hopeful it will return to the House quickly for final approval.

This will be possible if the justice committee agrees that it is unlikely to learn new things about the bill in yet another set of hearings. Between 2013 and 2015, three separate sets of parliamentary hearings were held, with 17 witnesses appearing before the House justice committee, and 18 witnesses before two different Senate committees.

In fact, if we judge by previous experience, new hearings in the House and the other place would only risk providing a platform for trans phobia. This is especially true when it comes to the most significant red herring concerning transgender rights: the question of bathrooms and change rooms, which we heard raised here earlier today.

I am hesitant to even mention this issue, but it continues to surface, even after it has been shown to have no basis in fact. I frankly believe its persistence is a sign of the very trans phobia we are trying to address in this bill. We all know that in the real world, the only ones at risk in bathrooms are trans people, who are almost always perceived to be in the wrong place.

We need to pass Bill C-16 as expeditiously as possible if we are to avoid allowing opponents of the bill to use media sensationalism to promote hatred against the trans community for their own political purposes. We have only to look south of the border to states like North Carolina to be reminded that this risk is very real.

The time to add gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Code and the Criminal Code is long past due.

While some have argued on technical grounds that the bill is unnecessary, we have heard clearly from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that it is needed, both to fill technical gaps and also for the purpose of denunciation. Passing Bill C-16 will say clearly that discrimination and violence against the trans community is not a part of our Canadian values.

In reality, of course, the proof that the legislation is needed is the ongoing discrimination suffered by transgender and gender-variant Canadians. We do not have comprehensive statistics on the trans community in Canada, partially precisely because of their exclusion from human rights legislation. However, the one study done some time ago in Ontario, which the minister referenced in her speech earlier this morning, demonstrates what we can all see if we choose to look.

Unemployment rates for trans Canadians are more than double the average and the poverty rate for trans Canadians is among the highest of any group, with just over half of the transgender community earning less than $15,000 per year, despite high levels of education. When it comes to marginalization and homelessness, again good statistics are missing, but we know that among homeless youth, up to 40% identify as LGBTQ and many of those as gender variant.

When it comes to violence, we know the stories, even if, again, official statistics are not often collected. Police on the street will tell us who who are the most vulnerable to violence, and that is the trans community, and within the trans community, those who are also visible minorities or aboriginal.

In the United States, we know that so far this year 20 trans women have been murdered, 80% of them black. The Trans Day of Remembrance reports that worldwide 269 trans people have been murdered over the past year, including one death in Canada, that of a young Somali trans woman in Toronto.

The need to act is urgent. While most provinces have done so, there are significant areas of federal responsibility, whether that is in providing better protection against hate crimes; or addressing the dangerous federal corrections policy that places inmates in the wrong institutions and, thus, at great risk of violence; or ending discriminatory and humiliating Transport Canada screening processes; or making appropriate identity documents like passports easier to obtain. In fact, in most of these areas, there is no need for the federal government to wait for a bill to do the right thing. Nothing prevents government agencies from doing the right thing when it comes to trans rights, but we have seen these initiatives stall at the federal level. Passing this bill will ensure that stalling ends.

Over the past year, there could have been much more done to address the ongoing epidemic of hate crimes against trans Canadians and, in particular, against those most marginalized in our society, like aboriginal people and sex workers. Over the past year, there should have been more progress in changing discriminatory government policies.

Right now, some of the most innovative work is being done by school boards and at the community level. I want to recognize the work done by organizations like Gender Creative Kids in Montreal and the Montreal Children's Hospital's child development program, a gender-variance program, and the work of organizations like PFLAG.

Finally, I want to recognize the many courageous parents who are standing by their trans kids and fighting for the supports they need to succeed in this country.

Bill C-16 calls for us to act to provide the same rights and protections to transgender and gender-variant Canadians that the rest of us already enjoy, no more, no less. I am asking that we join together to do so expeditiously. P.E.I. passed its legislation in three weeks and British Columbia in a single day. There could never be a better time for the passage of inclusive legislation of which all Canadians can be proud, no better time than now.

As I asked in closing the debate in the House of Commons on Bill C-279, some three years ago, if not now, then when?

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 11 a.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to clarify what I think I heard my colleague say. I do not believe I said that the large majority of faith groups or immigrant groups were opposed to transgender people. They are certainly not. We are welcoming of them as persons. We simply may disagree with the points of Bill C-16 when it comes to the subjectivity of the term “gender expression and gender identity”. Certainly, I will stand in this place, and I hope all my colleagues would agree with me, and oppose any form of discrimination that is based simply on gender identity or sexual identity. However, we do not necessarily endorse all the implications that the bill may bring forward down the road.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to the government's Bill C-16.

In its current form, I cannot support this bill for a number of reasons. Let me assure all of my colleagues in this House and, indeed, all Canadians that I do not oppose this bill because of any hatred for, any fear of, nor any malice toward anyone who is dealing with questions of gender identity.

Before I outline my concerns about the potential negative outcomes of Bill C-16, allow me to say clearly that I am supportive of any initiatives that will protect persons from hate speech. I am supportive of the need to guarantee equal rights. I also agree that there can be no tolerance for bullying or violence of any kind, or for any reason.

Parliamentarians and all Canadians have a duty to prevent bullying, hate speech, violence, or any such behaviour, but I am wary of the demands of any government-imposed value systems that would change fundamental definitions and principles of society. The imposition of fundamental value system changes of this magnitude must be viewed with some degree of skepticism. Too much is at stake for us to proceed without caution, if we proceed at all.

I am supportive of equal rights for all, but in my opinion this bill goes far beyond equal rights into the territory of granting extra rights or special rights for some; and in the process of granting those extra rights for some, we automatically diminish and deny the legitimate time-honoured rights of many others.

Relating to Bill C-16, I have a number of concerns. Some of the concerns address immediate potential negative repercussions, while others relate to the potential for long-term effects and outcomes of the enactment of this bill.

My concerns lie in four areas. I am concerned that this bill would cause fear for many Canadians, fear that they would not be able to even discuss public policy issues, such as this one, on which they may disagree with the government-imposed agenda. I am concerned about the potential harm to innocent children and youth as a result of the possible invasion of their privacy. I am concerned that the terms gender identity and gender expression are very subjective terms, far too subjective to be used in the context of legal documents, particularly in the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Criminal Code of Canada.

Finally, I am concerned that, when government adopts dramatic changes to public policy as it relates to gender identity and sexuality, with minimal research or support, the results could be harmful for all members of society, but especially for those we are actually trying to help; that is, transgendered children or youth.

Let me address these points in reverse order. Would this bill inadvertently harm those whom we are trying to help? There have been many eminent scholars, medical practitioners, psychologists, psychiatrists, and professional organizations that have raised legitimate concerns about the current treatment of the transgendered person and are especially concerned about long-term negative effects of hormone treatment and reassignment surgery.

The American College of Pediatricians urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. They point out the biological medical dangers associated with the use of puberty-blocking hormones and the follow-up use of cross-sex hormonal medication—testosterone and estrogen—which are needed in late adolescence. These are known to be associated with dangerous health risks including, but not limited to, high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke, and cancer.

There is another sobering statistic, and that is the increased suicide rate. During my 10 years here in Parliament, possibly the one issue that has received most of my attention has been suicide prevention. Motion M-388, dealing with Internet predators, and Bill C-300, An Act respecting a Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention were private members' business initiatives that I tabled and worked on diligently for many years.

The research is clear that the suicide rate for adults is 20 times higher for those who have used cross-sex hormones and undergone sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden, which is among the most LGBTQ-affirming countries.

The American College of Pediatricians states that:

Conditioning children into believing that a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation...is normal and healthful is child abuse. Endorsing gender discordance as normal via public education and legal policies will confuse children and parents, leading more children to present to “gender clinics” where they will be given puberty-blocking drugs. This, in turn, virtually ensures that they will “choose” a lifetime of carcinogenic and otherwise toxic cross-sex hormones, and likely consider unnecessary surgical mutilation of their healthy body parts as young adults.

Research reported by the American Psychiatric Association in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, clearly shows that the large majority of boys and girls who experience gender dysphoria will not experience the persistence of these feelings following adolescence.

I also urge my colleagues to listen to Dr. Ken Zucker, professor in the department of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Toronto, and to Dr. Susan Bradley, psychiatrist in chief at the Hospital for Sick Children and head of the division of child psychiatry and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. They state:

It has been our experience that a sizable number of children and their families can achieve a great deal of change. In these cases, the gender identity disorder resolves fully, and nothing in the children's behavior or fantasy suggest that gender identity issues remain problematic.

In light of the input from these groups and experts in psychiatry and psychology, at the very least it is important that government does not legislate ideological conformity on this issue. We need to take a stand for good public policy as it relates to gender and sexuality, and to base our decisions on scientific research that will help protect against devastating lifelong negative consequences.

Another major concern for me in Bill C-16 is the issue that the terms gender identity and gender expression are very subjective terms, far too subjective to be used in the context of legal documents. Would policies protecting people on the grounds of gender identity and expression merely provide safety and protection—that is, provide a shield against against abuse—or would they be used to drive a broader agenda? As legislators, are we simply trying to protect the sexual minority from verbal and physical abuse, or are we also intending to impose a cultural shift in our very understanding of human sexuality and gender expression? What would the impact be on immigrant groups and faith groups, the majority of which are at odds with gender fluidity concepts? Would they have the freedom to teach their children and practise their beliefs without being accused of hate speech or a human rights violation?

For me and the millions of other Canadians who acknowledge the supremacy of God, as the first words of our charter affirm, there is the reality that our faith journey is the foundation of our world view. If freedom of religion is to be embraced, then it is of paramount importance that Bill C-16 not infringe upon that fundamental freedom. It is important that government clarify the nature of the protection being afforded and how it expects terms such as gender identity and gender expression to be interpreted. The implications are too unpredictable. Far too much is left to interpretation that would result in unnecessary accusation of human rights violations as well as litigation and endless court cases to further tie up our court system.

Another concern is the potential harm to innocent children. As I stated earlier, I am in total support of equal rights. Therefore the question needs to be asked: Where are the equal rights? Is it equal rights of the boys or girls and of the young men or women who expect to find only those of their same gender in their change rooms? Is it fair to have their rights trampled upon by this imposition of extra rights for some? Common sense dictates that the potential for abuse of this new freedom to self-identify with a change room of one's own choice could very well lead to bullying, harassment, and even sexualized violence in these public spaces. One of the pitfalls of Bill C-16 is its failure to recognize the potential that heterosexual predators who, while not transgendered themselves, would take advantage of the protection of this bill to hide behind their predatory pursuits.

Yes, I am concerned for the safety and well-being of young children and youth, who deserve their right to privacy.

Finally, I am concerned about the fear this bill may cause for many Canadians. I fear they will not be able to even discuss public policy issues such as this one, on which they may disagree with the government agenda. Any law that limits legitimate discussion and debate of closely held beliefs presents a danger to freedom of expression, a fundamental value held dear by people across the political spectrum. The right to disagree must be viewed as sacred in our society. It is the lifeblood of both new ideas and age-old protections.

I am simply asking that those who support this bill respect my right and the rights of millions of Canadians not to be charged with human rights violations because we make our views known or because we disagree with others' views. We can and must respect each other even in spite of holding opposing views. It is my hope that we can openly disagree without labelling each other.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 10:40 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by the member. I thought it was interesting that he talked about the underlying intentions of Bill C-16 that he, representing the Conservative Party, appreciates. He understands why that commitment on the issue is so critically important.

My question for the member is with respect to the symbolism he referred to. I would argue that the minster who spoke before him put forward a very strong case that this is more than just symbolic. The member said that he and the Conservatives would be supporting the bill's passage to committee stage, which I applaud. The question I have for the member is this. If he believes that this legislation goes beyond symbolism, does he then see himself and the Conservative Party supporting it going both to committee and third reading?

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise this morning to speak to Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code by expressly including gender identity and expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Over the last number of years there has been increased awareness about issues concerning transgendered Canadians. As result there is greater understanding of and sensitivity to transgendered persons.

There is no doubt that it was not long ago in Canada that it was difficult to be transgendered, and I would submit that there are many challenges that transgendered Canadians face today. Quite frankly, I think the vast majority of Canadians stand in opposition to discrimination against transgendered persons. I certainly oppose discrimination against transgendered persons. In the context and the spirit of opposition toward discrimination against transgendered Canadians, I support the underlying intention of Bill C-16.

That said, while I support the underlying intention of Bill C-16 and will be supporting the bill so it can at least get to committee, I acknowledge there are legitimate questions about whether the bill is necessary from a legal standpoint. I want to emphasize that I say this from a legal standpoint, because I am not suggesting and am not talking about discrimination against transgendered persons, because we are opposed to that. Rather, I am talking more broadly about whether Bill C-16 would add anything substantively at law to protect transgendered Canadians. I would suggest that the answer to that is likely not.

Sex and sexual orientation are prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act and under various provincial human rights codes. Sex and sexual orientation have been broadly interpreted by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, by provincial human rights commissions, and by the courts. As a result of that broad interpretation, today in Canada discriminating against transgendered Canadians constitutes a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. In that regard, Bill C-16 would not add or take anything away. Really, at law, it would maintain the status quo.

The fact that transgendered Canadians are protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act is demonstrated by a number of decisions by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Here I am talking about Kavanagh and the Correctional Service of Canada case; Montreuil and the Canadian National Bank case; Montreuil and the Canadian Forces case; and the Nixon case out of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, which upheld a ruling of the British Columbia Human Rights Commission in 2005. All three Canadian Human Rights Tribunal cases dealt with alleged discrimination on the basis of gender identity. All of the cases were in the context of federally regulated workplaces and therefore engaged the Canadian Human Rights Act.

In all three cases, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal determined that sex, which constitutes a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, included transgender Canadians. Bill C-16 does not really add anything substantively at law. Therefore, it begs this question. What does Bill C-16 actually do? I would suggest that Bill C-16 is symbolic. I recognize that this is important to a number of people. I certainly know that some in the transgender community would say that words have meaning and that they take comfort by the express inclusion of gender identity and expression in the Canadian Human Rights Act. I acknowledge that. However, while I acknowledge and am sympathetic to it, I would also state that legislating on the basis of symbolism is not a good way of going about crafting legislation.

What is more, I would submit that Bill C-16 is inconsistent with the way human rights legislation has been drafted across Canada. Human rights legislation, in terms of the broad prohibited grounds of discrimination, is crafted broadly. They are broad torts. We are talking about prohibited grounds, such as sex and sexual orientation, which I have already discussed, and age, disability, race, and ethnicity. There are many groups and subgroups that could fit into any one of those expansive terms. However, we do not list every single group or subgroup because it would be impractical to do so. It would be legally unnecessary to do so because those groups and subgroups are already protected by those broad categories, and in some cases it might even be legally problematic, as there might potentially be unintended consequences from creating a laundry list of various groups. Therefore, Bill C-16 is not consistent with how how human rights legislation has been drafted.

That said, I reiterate my earlier point that there are many in the transgender community who say that this would be meaningful to them. From the standpoint that I oppose discrimination against transgender Canadians and to the degree that the inclusion of gender identity and expression would remove any ambiguity that potentially exists, which I do not believe there is, but to the degree that there might be, I am prepared to support Bill C-16 because I support it in principle so we can get it to committee. As a member of the justice and human rights committee, I look forward to the opportunity to look more closely at the bill when it gets to committee.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I would further commit to and underscore the importance of recognizing those among us who are more marginalized and more vulnerable, and to ensure that we do everything we can within our power to protect and provide for these people.

In the drafting and thinking about Bill C-16, we engaged with many stakeholders in the trans community and many organizations and individuals who have been marginalized, and sought their important feedback. If and when this legislation passes and becomes law, this conversation will continue, in terms of how we operationalize this in the most appropriate ways and how we, as a government and a country, need to ensure that we move forward in an appropriate way that recognizes the interests, the needs, and the concerns of these marginalized populations.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, we live in a country that has rights and freedoms. Fundamental to each individual Canadian is the right to be themselves and to be protected while being themselves.

In terms of any willful promotion of hatred that could potentially exist against trans individuals or people of different gender expressions, that is why we are introducing Bill C-16, as upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in terms of its constitutionality. I recognize freedom of religion. It is important to respect those freedoms and the rights contained in our Constitution but to also ensure that everyone has the ability to feel safe, to be themselves, to express who they are, and to succeed as all Canadians do in this country.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I would echo his comments in terms of equality and the importance of the legal framework as the basis upon which we live as Canadians. I feel that as Canadians, we are most confident when we know that we live in a caring and compassionate society under a legal and political framework that will protect us, regardless of our race, gender, gender expression, or faith. It is within that endeavour that we are introducing Bill C-16 to ensure that there is equality across the country, that people have the freedom to be themselves, that there are no barriers in the way of people achieving what they want to achieve if they work hard, and that the protections will be there for them.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I acknowledge the work of current and past members in the House and without question would underscore and acknowledge the hard work of the trans population in this country in bringing us to this place.

Without question, I would support moving Bill C-16 forward as quickly as possible so that we can ensure that there is recognition and protection of gender identity and gender expression in the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 10:05 a.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

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

moved that Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud that on May 17 we introduced Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. The bill addresses a fundamental issue of equality and human rights, the discrimination and hate crimes experienced by trans and gender diverse Canadians.

At this time I would like to table, in both official languages, a potential charter impact statement for Bill C-16.

I would first like to acknowledge the efforts of colleagues in bringing this matter before previous Parliaments by the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, the member for Vancouver Centre, and the former member for Burnaby—Douglas, Mr. Bill Siksay. Their hard work on this issue helped start an important national conversation on gender identity and expression. I thank them all for their leadership.

Canadians know that trans people make the same important contributions to Canadian society as everyone else, yet their life journeys are often more challenging, as they have to overcome misunderstandings, prejudice, and hostility because of their gender identity or expression. With the bill, we unequivocally say that Canada can do better. As the Prime Minister has said, Canada is stronger because of its diversity, not in spite of it.

Bill C-16 reflects our commitment to this diversity and provides for equality and freedom from discrimination and violence for all Canadians, regardless of their gender identity. With the bill, we say loudly and clearly that it is time to move beyond mere tolerance of trans people. It is time for their full acceptance and inclusion in Canadian society.

Bill C-16 would bring us closer to this goal by amending two statutes: the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. These two statutes play an essential role in affirming the basic equality rights of all Canadians and reducing their vulnerability to harm. It would improve legal protections for trans and gender diverse people by updating the laws against discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes. It would promote inclusion and respect for trans people who have so often been relegated to the margins, struggling for full recognition and participation in our society.

Some of the words and concepts used in the discussion on Bill C-16 may not be familiar to all Canadians. For this reason, I would like to elaborate on some of the terminology being used. The term “gender identity” is a person's internal or individual experience of their gender. It is a deeply felt experience of being a man, a woman, or being somewhere along the gender spectrum. Gender identity is a profound matter of self-identity. It shapes one's self-understanding.

Conversely, “gender expression” is how a person publicly presents their gender. It is an external, or outward presentation of gender through aspects such as dress, hair, makeup, body language, or voice. Trans and gender diverse persons are among the most vulnerable members in society. As parliamentarians we have the opportunity to make their lives safer and freer. Bill C-16 presents an opportunity to ensure that our laws provide clear and explicit protection to those who need it the most.

I will begin by discussing the proposed amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act. Parliament enacted this act in 1977 to promote equal opportunity in federal workplaces and in access to goods and services. The act says:

all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices

Canada has a long history of laws that recognize and seek to address harmful discrimination. Over the course of this history a theme has emerged, one of greater awareness of the barriers to opportunity that exist in our society.

When legislatures across this country came to understand the pervasive harm done by discrimination against women, they prohibited discrimination based on sex. Later, legislators expanded the laws again to legally protect persons with disabilities. Other prohibited grounds of discrimination are now common in human rights laws throughout the country, such as family status and sexual orientation.

Today, we are at a point in our history where we must act again. We must renew our commitment to equal opportunity and further extend legal protection to vulnerable Canadians who experience discrimination. In recent years, many legislatures in Canada have acted to protect the rights of trans and gender diverse persons. We can now see these legal protections are not just symbolically important; they are absolutely necessary. Significant Canadian surveys paint an alarming picture.

In 2009 and 2010, the Trans Pulse project studied the experiences of approximately 500 trans persons in Ontario. They reported significant employment barriers, including 13% having been fired and 18% having been refused employment because they were trans. Given these barriers, it is not surprising that trans persons are significantly underemployed, with a median income of $15,000 per year, despite generally high levels of education. In fact, 44% of trans persons in Ontario have a post-secondary degree.

Tragically, more than half of trans people in Ontario have symptoms consistent with clinical depression. A shocking 43% of trans adults in Ontario had a history of attempting suicide, including 10% having made an attempt within the past year. The difficulties faced by trans persons are significant and deserve our attention. The experiences of trans and gender diverse youth are especially troubling.

In 2011, Egale Canada conducted the first national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools, collecting information from over 3,700 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans high school students. Results showed that 23% of trans students reported hearing teachers use negative gender-related or transphobic comments weekly and even daily. The study also indicated very high levels of verbal, physical, and sexual harassment. Specifically among trans students, 74% reported verbal harassment, 49% reported sexual harassment, and 37% reported physical harassment linked to being trans.

Not surprisingly, 52% of trans youth reported feeling unsafe in both change rooms and washrooms. This is completely unacceptable. Too many trans and gender diverse persons are being deprived the opportunity to contribute and flourish in our society. These figures reinforce the need for Bill C-16, through which we, as parliamentarians, can do our part to address this shocking reality.

It should go without saying that discrimination is a matter of public concern. When a person loses the opportunity to work or faces persistent discrimination, we all lose potential contributions to our society, to our workplaces, and the Canadian economy. Depriving individuals of freedom to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have undermines their ability to participate in society.

By adding gender identity as a prohibited ground to the Canadian Human Rights Act, Bill C-16 aims to ensure that people of all gender identities are protected from discrimination. We have heard from trans and gender diverse persons that their gender expression is often the basis of the discrimination they face. Gender norms are reinforced by our society, yet they do not fit all of us. There is great diversity in how Canadians dress and speak, in their appearance, and their behaviour. No one should be disadvantaged solely because they do not conform to someone else's gender-based expectations.

It is also important to understand what these amendments would mean to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The act defines a number of discriminatory practices, such as refusing to hire or promote an employee, or refusing to serve a customer based on the prohibited grounds of discrimination. By adding “gender identity or expression” to the list of prohibited grounds, it will be clear that practices that discriminate on these grounds will not be permitted.

People suffering discrimination can make a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The commission then investigates complaints and attempts to mediate between the parties to resolve the dispute. If the commission believes that a dispute should be given a hearing and an authoritative decision, it may refer the complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. If the tribunal determines that discrimination has occurred, it may order a range of remedies, such as reinstatement in a job, an order that the discrimination cease, or monetary remedies.

The purpose of the act is to end and correct discriminatory practice. The Canadian Human Rights Act already provides some protections for trans persons. Tribunals and courts in several jurisdictions in Canada have found that discrimination against trans persons is a kind of discrimination based on sex, which is already a prohibited ground of discrimination. However, it is not enough to leave the law as it is. Canadians should have a clear and explicit statement of their rights and obligations. Equal rights for trans persons should not be hidden but be plain for all to see.

The legal clarity would provide two tangible benefits. First, people who are subject to discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression would be able to make their case in precisely those terms. Making a formal claim of discrimination can be an intimidating process. Explicitly including gender expression or identity in the Canadian Human Rights Act would make it easier to interpret for those who have suffered this kind of discrimination, instead of forcing them to explain how the law on sex discrimination covers their situation. Second, these amendments would raise awareness of the protections and obligations under the act.

Bill C-16 does not define gender identity or expression. This is consistent with the majority of prohibited grounds under the act. There are good reasons to continue with this approach.

Many of the grounds, such as race and religion, cannot be captured in a single definition. There are more subtle and complex concepts that evolve over time and reflect the particular cases the act deals with. That does not mean that they are vague or obscure.

Gender identity and gender expression are increasingly common terms with enough subtle meaning to allow the commission and the tribunal to interpret them.Gender identity is now found in eight provincial and territorial human rights codes, and gender expression is found in five. In none of these are the terms defined by statute.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission is also able to provide detailed guidance on how to comply with the law. The commission has an important policy and education mandate, which includes interpreting the act and promoting compliance with it. The commission will continue to perform its role of assisting employers and service providers in understanding and complying with the law.

Next, I will turn to the amendments to the Criminal Code proposed in Bill C-16.

Trans people in Canada face a significant risk of violent crime. While official data from police services is scarce, 20% of respondents in the Trans Pulse survey had been physically or sexually assaulted, although many did not report these assaults to police.

A recent report by the National Aboriginal Health Organization indicated that aboriginal LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to face attacks as heterosexual youth.

The Criminal Code has specifically prohibited hate propaganda since 1970. There are criminal offences for advocating or promoting genocide against an identifiable group, for inciting hatred by communicating statements against an identifiable group in a public place that is likely to lead to a breach of the peace, or for willfully promoting hatred other than in private conversations against an identifiable group. They are found in section 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code. All three offences protect identifiable groups.

Until recently, this was defined by the Criminal Code as “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation”. The list has been expanded over time to include national origin, age, sex, and mental and physical disability.

Bill C-16 proposes to amend the Criminal Code to add “gender identity or expression” to this list. As a result, the bill, if enacted, will extend protections to groups identifiable on the basis of gender identity or expression, which to date have been left out of the protections provided by hate propaganda offences. It will provide long overdue equal protection under the law.

Finally, the bill proposes to amend paragraph 718.2(a)(i) of the Criminal Code, which directs judges to consider as an aggravating factor in sentencing any evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, religion, colour, sex, language, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.

While the term “any other similar factor” is open-ended, the purpose of this protection is to denounce crimes motivated by hatred. By adding gender identity and expression to the list, we will send a clear message that there is no place in Canadian society for crimes committed out of bias, prejudice, or hate based on gender identity or expression.

In Canada we celebrate inclusion and diversity. All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves. When I introduced the bill back in May, Charlie Lowthian-Rickert, an amazing young activist who I am pleased to say is in the chamber today, was here and very publicly stood beside me, proud of its introduction. She stated in the press conference that she now feels safer because of the legislation that had been introduced. Charlie is not alone in feeling this way.

Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, is an important step. It reflects Canada's commitment to equality and freedom from discrimination and violence. It affirms the basic equality of all Canadians and provides explicit legal protection to one of the most vulnerable communities in our society.

It is time for Parliament to ensure that our laws provide clear and explicit protection for trans and gender diverse Canadians. I very much look forward to the dialogue, and I very much look forward to all members in the House supporting Bill C-16.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

October 6th, 2016 / 3:15 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, I want to start off just by saying quickly that I know on these complex consular issues emotions can run high. I also know that by working together we can make progress on consular cases, and that I will continue to advocate for decorum and respect in the House. That is part of the conversation we have been having today.

Today we will continue the debate on the Standing Orders. Tomorrow, we will discuss Bill C-4, on unions, and Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act.

Next week, we will all be working hard in our constituencies, and I wish everyone well and I wish them a happy Thanksgiving. Upon our return, we will have two opposition days, the first on Monday, October 17, and then on Thursday, October 20.

On Tuesday, we will commence second reading debate of Bill C-16, the gender identity legislation, and also report stage and third reading of Bill C-13, concerning the World Trade Organization, provided the bill is reported back to the House tomorrow.

Last, on Wednesday, we shall call Bills C-4 and C-24 with the hope we can dispose of the union bill that day and have it sent to the Senate.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 20th, 2016 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London. I know her predecessor. I am not sure what they put in the water in that riding, but I do notice that both she and her predecessor demonstrated respect for the institution and its members. I thank her for her tone and the arguments she presented.

The only real collaboration between the government and the opposition on this extremely important issue happened while the report to the government was being written. I was present at one of the meetings. It was an exceptional instance of collaboration among senators and MPs of all stripes. Unfortunately, the bill before us is very different from the recommendations in that report. That should be cause for concern.

The government is so focused on meeting the supposedly incontrovertible June 6 deadline, failing which, it says, there will be a disastrous legal void. I do not buy that, because the Supreme Court set up a legal framework within which we can operate, at least temporarily.

Can my colleague speak to the steps available to the government to truly work collaboratively on Bill C-16 and, as in Quebec, achieve the greatest consensus possible on the issue, knowing that unanimity is not possible in any case?

Life Means Life ActPrivate Members' Business

May 19th, 2016 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

moved that Bill C-229, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (life sentences), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-229, which would amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Before I outline my reasons for bringing this bill forward, I want to make a few general comments, primarily for the members of the opposition who, I am sure, when speaking to this bill, are likely to say that it is just another approach to legislation by a hard right-wing Tea Party Conservative member.

However, I supported Bill C-14 at second reading and in all likelihood will support the bill at third reading. I will be supporting Bill C-16 because I believe all Canadians should be treated with equality and, frankly, it is the motivation behind proposing this legislation, which I will explain in a moment.

I am sure we can all agree that Canada has a reputation as a peaceful country of compassionate neighbours who live in relative comfort and security. We are fortunate that as a country our crime rates are low and we are generally able to walk our streets without fear. However, we must also acknowledge that there are some in our country who seek to do harm. There are some individuals who do not respect our values of peace and compassion. These individuals seek to harm others and make us feel unsafe in our homes, on our streets, and in our communities.

In our country, we perceive that people are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and that principle should never change. However, when someone is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of heinous crimes such as multiple murders or murders which are so brutal that they upset us to even hear about them on the evening news, that person must be seriously punished for his or her actions. When a life is taken in such a manner, the families and loved ones of the victims are in essence given a life sentence with no chance of ever seeing that loved one again.

In the past 10 years, the former Conservative government introduced and passed over 60 substantive pieces of legislation to help keep criminals behind bars, to protect children, to put the rights of victims ahead of criminals, and to crack down on drugs, guns, and gangs.

I want to highlight some of the former Conservative government's justice accomplishes. They include the Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act, the Tackling Violent Crime Act, the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights Act, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, the Abolition of Early Parole Act, and the Drug-Free Prisons Act.

The most serious offence in the criminal code is murder. First degree murder, a murder that is planned and deliberate, carries a mandatory penalty of life imprisonment with an ineligibility of parole for 25 years. Murders that are not planned and deliberate carry the same penalty where they are committed in certain circumstances, including where they involve the killing of a police officer or sexual assault.

Through previous legislation, the former Conservative government strengthened penalties for murder, including eliminating the faint hope clause, which allowed a murderer to apply for parole after 15 years, and enabling consecutive periods of parole ineligibility for multiple murderers so they would no longer receive a sentencing discount.

Today, I am introducing the life means life act to ensure that the most heinous criminals would be subject to mandatory life sentence without parole. The life means life legislation would ensure that offenders who were convicted of heinous murders and those who were convicted of high treason would be imprisoned for the rest of their natural lives with no access to parole. This would include murders involving sexual assault, kidnapping, terrorism, the killing of police officers or corrections officers, or any first degree murder that would be found to be of a particularly brutal nature.

The life means life act would amend the Criminal Code to make a life sentence without parole mandatory for the following crimes: first degree murder that is planned and deliberate and that involves sexual assault, kidnapping or forcible confinement, terrorism, the killing of police officers or corrections officers, or conduct of a particularly brutal nature; and high treason.

The bill also gives courts the discretion to impose a sentence of life without parole for any other first degree murder where a sentence of life without parole is not mandatory, and second degree murder where the murderer has previously been convicted of either a murder or an intentional killing under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

The law allows a criminal serving life without parole to apply for exceptional release after serving 35 years. This application would be made to the Minister of Public Safety and the final decision would rest with cabinet. The family of the victim would be able to provide input before any decision. This is consistent with the traditional approach of granting clemency and addresses legitimate constitutional concerns.

I recognize that some of my colleagues will object to this bill. They will say it is wrong to lock up someone for life because the person can be rehabilitated. To them I say, no amount of rehabilitation can bring back the victim of a murder. No amount of rehabilitation can bring back the stolen birthdays, holidays, and special moments in that victim's life. No amount of rehabilitation can bring back that victim to his or her family.

I believe Canadians will largely agree that some crimes should result in the murderer never walking free again. The victims of these murders deserve nothing less. As I said at the outset of my remarks, some of my colleagues will say this is just another Conservative tough-on-crime bill. Well, I am a Conservative and this does fit the definition of tough on crime. Similar laws already exist in the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. These governments have found similar measures to protect victims and their families.

To those who would call the bill another Conservative tough-on-crime bill, I would say to them that they are right. As mentioned earlier, when in government, our party introduced a series of measures to restore the balance between the rights of the criminal and those of the victim's family. I believe this bill is the final piece of the Conservatives' efforts to ensure that the scales of justice in the future are never tipped in favour of those who commit heinous crimes at the expense of the family of the victim.

Copyright ActGovernment Orders

May 17th, 2016 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I was very pleased this morning that the Minister of Justice introduced Bill C-16, which would guarantee equal rights for transgender and gender-variant Canadians. This bill passed in the House of Commons in 2011 and passed again in essentially the same form as a private member's bill that I introduced in 2013. I was very pleased the minister made a commitment to deal with this bill expeditiously.

Therefore, I would like to move the following motion: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, shall be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed.

Canadian Human Rights ActRoutine Proceedings

May 17th, 2016 / 10:05 a.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)