Mr. Speaker, it is good to be back today to speak on this issue.
It is interesting to watch the movement on the other side on the bill as those members have brought it back to the House and then desperately tried to amend it in order to make it acceptable to parliamentarians. Now they have moved it up, probably to get the bill into debate and into play before Canadians realize that it is actually here and that Canadians are allowed to ask the questions they have about it.
I want to state, as I did last time, that I am cognizant of the need to protect all Canadians from discrimination and hate crimes. I am proud of the fact that Canada is recognized internationally as a country that is deeply committed to the principle of human rights, but I would argue that the bill does not achieve that end.
As I mentioned last time, I would argue that Bill C-279 is unnecessary. We talked about the jurisprudence around the bill, the fact that the issues are already covered by jurisprudence, and that there is no agreement even at the UN on this issue.
We also spent some time talking about the fact that the main problem with the bill is that it is undefined. It almost seems that there is an attempt to confuse people in the way the bill has been presented.
There were no definitions offered for either gender identity or gender expression. The member has come back now and dropped “gender expression” and tried to redefine “gender identity” in a way that ties it to people's feelings. As I explained last time, that is not adequate, and it seems to have been done deliberately. The author of the bill has already declared the intention that
Once gender identity is in the Human Rights Code, the courts and human rights commissions will interpret what that means.
I think there is a new argument, a new confusion, around the bill. I have heard some people now saying that it is about sexual orientation. However, as we know, the code and the act already cover sexual orientation. They have been included there for some time.
One concern is that the bill is unsettling to people. The author has really refused to talk about or deal with the potential implications and consequences of such wide-ranging and undefined legislation. My constituents, I have to say, do not see this as benign legislation because of the things we just talked about, in particular the fact that there is such a lack of definitional framework to the bill. What I am getting from my riding is that the constituents oppose it, but they do have some questions that I will pose on their behalf.
The first question to the member opposite is this: does he actually believe that there is no one who will try to abuse the situation that would be created by his deliberately vague legislative agenda?
That is what the member seemed to be saying when he spoke, but he has refused to address this criticism in his speech. It remains out there in the public's mind, and I have heard that from my constituents.
Second, especially with regard to minors and adults, my constituents have questions about the power relationship that would exist in what in the past were basically private facilities that would now become very public facilities. They are asking what their obligations and rights would be. The failure to address these issues is really why the bill has become known as the “bathroom bill”. I do not think we can just brush off people's concerns.
The legislation is poorly written, it does not deal with the issue the member addresses and it would give the opportunity for some to take advantage of the situation, as not everyone's motives are selfless. I think we need to be sure. We should not be naive. These questions need to be answered.
We know that the bill is not necessary, as jurisprudence already covers these issues. We know that the bill is not well defined, and that is the major problem with it. It is not well defined even with the amendments. We know that the consequences of the bill are not well understood. Therefore, it is time to defeat this poorly researched, poorly written and poorly presented bill.