Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
I want to start by thanking the minister again. When this Parliament resumed, I reintroduced a private member's bill. We had early discussions before this was introduced as a government bill. I feel that the minister has been very respectful of the work that came before her.
I thank all my colleagues for their kind words, but we're not here today because of my work. We're here today because trans Canadians stepped forward to demand the same rights, protections, and respect that all other Canadians have. Some very brave individuals came forward to tell their stories in previous hearings both here in this House and in the Senate. It's that work and that courageous struggle that brings us to this place today.
I don't want to do testifying—I want to ask the minister questions—but frankly, I find Mr. Falk's assertion that there's no gap and no evidence offensive. It disrespects the work that's been done by all the trans activists. It disrespects the fact that Parliament has twice before passed this legislation. The studies are quite clear. There's the Trans PULSE study from Ontario, which laid out the levels of discrimination and the levels of violence that people face. Egale in Toronto did a study of safe schools, about “every school and every class”—I also can't remember the title—which had transgender students testifying that every day, half of them face harassment and more than a quarter of them face violence in the school setting. So the evidence is here that discrimination is very real and there is a need to act. I thank the minister for giving this priority.
My question is about timing again. My private member's bill....
I guess maybe I should say one more thing. The reason “expression” was taken out of my private member's bill was that there were negotiations with a group of members of the Conservative caucus, led by Shelly Glover, who had concerns that the public didn't understand, and that the political repercussions of including “gender expression” would make it difficult. In negotiations over the bill in the last Parliament, I consulted with the trans community, who reluctantly agreed that in order to get a bill through, because of the urgency, it was better to limit the bill somewhat than to have no bill at all. It was a compromise essentially four years ago. I think the public has moved a long way since then in their understanding of these issues.
My bill passed in March 2013, two and a half years before the election, and it spent two and a half years in the Senate. The Senate conducted hearings twice, in two different committees, and ping-ponged the bill around the Senate until it finally died.
My question for the minister is about the Senate and about her expectation for the Senate in dealing with this bill. In saying that, I acknowledge the new appointments today of some very prominent human rights activists among the nine people named to the Senate. I want to know if the minister has given some thought, like all of us, to how government bills now work in this new Senate.