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Evidence of meeting #53 for Justice and Human Rights in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site.) The winning word was tribunal.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Ian Fine  Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission
Susheel Gupta  Acting Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal
Diane Watts  Researcher, REAL Women of Canada

4 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ms. Watts, in your brief you refer to GLBT rights as special rights. Can you explain to me how the GLBT rights extend beyond the rights that are afforded to every Canadian?

4 p.m.

Researcher, REAL Women of Canada

Diane Watts

That would definitely occur if they conflict with parental rights. For example, it's happening in California, I believe. There is an effort to prohibit the counselling of certain GLBT designations to exit those categories and to become what they would think would be more comfortable and more adjusted to their family and societal surroundings. Now, there are efforts to prevent professionals from counselling these individuals. In the Yogyakarta Principles, if you read them, there are efforts there to say that everyone from the child up has a right to identify the way they want, and if they want to identify like that, the family should not interfere. The family would be an obstruction to their freedom to identify with whatever type of behaviour or identity they would want, regardless of what age. There is also a strong suggestion that there should not be any counselling to dissuade these people.

Where there would be a conflicting right between a child's determination to identify a certain way and the family's efforts to try to bring the child closer to the values of the family, that would be a conflict. And it's the same with the UN human rights declaration. It gives the family a position of special importance in society. It would be a problem if there was a conflict.

For example, in terms of being assaulted or discriminated against unfairly, we should definitely protect every Canadian. Every Canadian should be protected from assault, regardless of what their appearance is.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Ms. Watts, back in 2005, Parliament was debating legislation around same-sex marriage. You will undoubtedly recall attending at a parliamentary committee hearing—although it wasn't you; it was a witness. Your organization put forward the argument that passage of that legislation would open the floodgates to bigamy, polygamy, and incest. Now, I would expect you would agree with me that this has not happened.

Given what you forecast in 2005 with respect to the same-sex legislation and the very alarming suggestions today connecting this bill with the proliferation of the rights of pedophiles, what makes you think that's any more likely than the predictions you made back in 2005?

4:05 p.m.

Researcher, REAL Women of Canada

Diane Watts

Well, the argument of orientation was brought up in B.C. in relation to polygamy. This was their orientation. It was a part of the argument—not a major part, but it was part of the argument. This was their orientation, having several wives and that type of lifestyle.

On pedophilia, those are just facts. I'm not making that up. There are many people worldwide who want to promote this and who use the same follow-up on the arguments for freedom to identify and to express your sexual orientation. I can give you references that they want to include pedophilia. You heard it from the conference itself in Maryland.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dave MacKenzie

Very briefly, Mr. Casey.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

You make reference, and we've heard this in many other quarters, to the risks apparently associated with this bill to male access to women's public washrooms. It's my understanding that there is no federal law that prevents it now. How can you say that the defeat of this bill will prevent it?

4:05 p.m.

Researcher, REAL Women of Canada

Diane Watts

Those are customs that Canadians have developed. We don't need a law for everything we do. The custom where Canadians feel comfortable having male washrooms and female washrooms, and that people don't go in the other washroom.... It is a Canadian custom.

Mind you, people would like to change that, but Canadians have established this custom and they feel comfortable with that. In the case of B.J.'s Lounge, they felt very uncomfortable with a man walking in thinking he was a woman.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dave MacKenzie

Thank you.

Mr. Seeback.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Conservative Brampton West, ON

Mr. Chair, I'm going to give my time to Mr. Bruinooge, if that's okay.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dave MacKenzie

Thank you.

Mr. Bruinooge

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Thank you, Kyle. Hopefully, we'll be able to get back to you.

Thank you to all the members for your testimony today. I have a number of questions. Perhaps I'll start with Mr. Fine.

Mr. Fine, we were chatting before this began about some aboriginal topics that you and I have discussed in the past, and perhaps I'll start there with a question in relation to that.

Will first nations communities be subject to this bill?

4:05 p.m.

Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ian Fine

Yes, they will.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Can you perhaps think of any areas within the first nations communities where the passing of this legislation could have an impact?

4:05 p.m.

Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ian Fine

I really can't say—I don't know. I've not spoken to any first nations about this particular issue, so I just can't speculate on whether or not it would be an issue.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Okay.

What is the context of this bill in relation to first nations communities? Perhaps you could give some background to this panel.

4:05 p.m.

Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ian Fine

Sorry, just so I understand, when you ask for context, do you mean context around this bill that's before this committee?

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Well, it's in relation to a section 67 repeal.

4:05 p.m.

Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ian Fine

I don't know what I can say in answer to your first question more than what I've said. This law, if passed, would apply equally to first nations, to aboriginal peoples.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Do you believe the mover of this bill is subject to the duty to consult on this bill?

4:10 p.m.

Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ian Fine

I really don't know the answer to that question. I think that would be a question that would be better put to the Department of Justice. I really don't know. If there's any duty to consult, I think it would be something that would be of concern to the Department of Justice and the Attorney General.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

I know that in a matter of rights going back to 2005, the Canadian Human Rights Commission did actually acknowledge that a section 67 repeal that was going to extend the Canadian Human Rights Act to first nations communities should at least consider consulting with first nations peoples in relation to the changes that were going to face their communities.

Would you agree that that was a good idea in relation to that implementation?

4:10 p.m.

Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ian Fine

I can't recall specifically what we said with respect to consultation and obligation. If you have it there, I'm happy to hear it, but I don't recall exactly what we said about the duty to consult. I believe we discussed it in the context of the government's duty to consult. I'm not sure we discussed it in relation to the commission's duty to consult.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Do you think it would be a good idea to have a transition period for this bill so that first nations communities could transition accordingly, much like what was done with the section 67 repeal that occurred?

4:10 p.m.

Acting Secretary General, Secretary General's Office, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ian Fine

I really can't comment on that. I really don't know the answer to that question. The law would apply, as I say, to first nations communities as well as to all other Canadians. I really haven't thought about whether or not a transition period would be required in this situation.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

But you would agree it was a good idea for the section 67 repeal? Of course, many first nations leaders called for it and in the end it was put into the bill. I believe it was a three-year transition period. Do you think that's an appropriate timeline?