Mr. Speaker, in the spring of 2005 I was reviewing Canada's hate crimes legislation and I noted that there were a number of categories, identifiable groups, which were covered: race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. However, I noticed that there was an omission. Gender was not covered. That spurred me to call the Department of Justice to find out if perhaps there was other legislation that covered off gender.
I received a call back from an official who told me that it seemed to be an oversight. I thought to myself after that conversation, my goodness, what kind of Canada do we live in when this sort of oversight can occur? Is it a reflection of the gender inequality in our House of Commons? Or is it a reflection of society's tacit acceptance of certain hateful types of expression?
That spurred me to draft a piece of legislation, a private member's bill, perhaps unique in the sense that all it entailed was the addition of one single word “sex”, the legal term for gender, in existing legislation.
Since the original introduction of hates crimes legislation, there has been a diminishing number of hate crimes in Canada. We have become more accepting and respectful. In fact, we often now celebrate our differences. Unfortunately, women continue to be the target of hate crimes at increasing rates.
Several months ago, every MP in this House stood for a minute of silence in memory of 14 young women massacred at the École Polytechnique. Yet three times, a number of these same MPs have blocked the passage of Bill C-254 in our House of Commons, allowing the continuation of the spreading of gender-based hatred. It is a hatred with which vulnerable new generations are being infected.
For instance, a musician who has sold thousands of CDs in Canada raps these horrific lyrics:
Then punch a bitch in the nose
Until her whole face explodes
There's three things I hate: Girls, women,--
And he continues.
Minister, why are these lyrics legally protected? Yet, if we were to substitute equally pejorative terms for Jew, Black or gay, charges would be laid. Today, the hands of our police forces are tied when attempting to deal with this type of hatred.
Soon after introducing my bill, I received a letter of support from the office of William Blair, Chief of Police in Toronto. His letter stated:
The Toronto Police Service supports and applauds your efforts to combat the serious issue of promoting hatred and violence against women.
It is not just our police forces which support Bill C-254. The media violence coalition, representing some 160,000 teachers, principals and trustees in Ontario, is actively lobbying on its behalf.
I will continue to ask the federal government to expand the definition of identifiable groups to include gender.
He further stated:
It is time for the federal government to provide such tools to prosecute those promoting hatred against women by amending the Criminal Code.
I hope that all my parliamentary colleagues will put their political differences and ideologies aside for the sake of Canadian women, to protect our mothers, to protect our wives, to protect our sisters, and to protect our daughters.
I call upon the minister to act and to add one word, just one word, “sex”, the legal description for gender, into existing hate crimes legislation.
Tough on crime should also apply--