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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Vaudreuil—Soulanges (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Fairness at the Pumps Act May 12th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I believe that we will have a chance to hear him speak later on. Given how often he speaks in the House, my colleague will have ample opportunity to finish his thoughts.

I would like to thank him in advance for his support for Bill C-452. The Bloc Québécois is proposing this legislation to strengthen the Competition Bureau's authority. I believe that a comprehensive strategy for dealing with increases in the price of petroleum products would close the loopholes in Bill C-14. I spoke about that strategy earlier.

The member said that he has been following this issue for about 20 years. I agree with him because I have been driving for about 20 years, and I have seen gas prices fluctuate from one region to the next. One thing I have learned in the House is that you have to have patience if you want to take on the banks and oil companies.

Fairness at the Pumps Act May 12th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague.

He listened closely to my speech. I did refer to the commissioner's comments. The problem this bureau has is with launching inquiries of its own accord. Yes, it has tools: it can use wiretaps and do investigative work. The problem comes when it wants to undertake an inquiry. The commissioner does not have the latitude needed to determine the scope of the inquiry and the structure of a particular industry or sector. That is what Bill C-452 is referring to.

Fairness at the Pumps Act May 12th, 2010

How can investigative powers be given to an institution when it must bow to the will of the minister or when this institution is only able to take action after receiving a complaint?

The Bloc Québécois wonders why it takes a complaint and a request by the minister to set the wheels in motion. If the Competition Bureau has information pointing to collusion, it should be able to initiate an inquiry immediately.

Still in 2003, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology concluded its study on fluctuating gasoline prices with some recommendations. The first was to create a petroleum monitoring agency. The second was to toughen up the Competition Act.

According to the committee, this agency would have been able to clear up confusion among the general public regarding the price of gas by providing existing data to the public. The agency would have overseen all aspects of this activity.

That same year, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology spelled out the changes it wanted to see made to the Competition Act.

Obviously the Bloc Québécois agrees with this recommendation and it pushed for the government to respect the work of the committee and agree to implement this monitoring body, something it did not do. In response to the committee, the government of the day said it did not feel it was necessary to create this monitoring agency and it argued for the status quo.

In 2005, the Liberal Party of Canada had proposed, through Bill C-19, amendments to the Competition Act allowing for measures to mitigate rising gas prices. Note that, once again, the government did not incorporate the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology into its Bill C-19. The committee had recommended reversing the burden of proof to address agreements between competitors and to make it possible for the Competition Tribunal to award damages to parties affected by restrictive trade practices, where applicable.

The purpose of the first recommendation was to make it the responsibility of the parties wishing to enter into an agreement between competitors to prove the ultimate social value of that agreement. The second recommendation of the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology would have made the pendulum swing back the other way since measures restricting the business practices of the guilty parties could have been imposed.

You can guess what happened. Bill C-19 died on the order paper since it was introduced just before the election. That is why, in 2007, the Bloc Québécois introduced Bill C-454. That bill made it to second reading stage, but another election saw the Bloc Québécois bill scrapped. In 2009, a little more recently, the Bloc Québécois noted that the Conservative government had adopted part of Bill C-454. Nonetheless, the government does not think it is necessary for the Competition Bureau to initiate its own investigations.

It is clear that in 2010 nothing much has changed. The flow of information has not improved much and there is no agency governing the attitude of the oil companies, quite the contrary.

The government must deal with problems of fairness swiftly and I want to know what it is waiting for to take action. Consumers are sick of bearing the cost of fluctuating prices at the pump.

Fairness at the Pumps Act May 12th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the speeches about Bill C-14. The member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing was right to say that the bill needs to be studied in detail.

I, too, am worried that the oil industry has been asked to police itself. Oil companies are being asked to evaluate how well they respect the laws. That is incredible. They are both judge and judged. The Bloc Québécois has the solution and it is Bill C-452, which will be debated a little later today.

Bill C-14 is also of direct interest to me. I often travel back and forth between Ottawa and my riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges. Obviously, I have to take my car. Every time I stop to fill it up at a gas station, I cannot help but wonder why prices vary so much from region to region. In the same city or an area of a few kilometres, the prices may be the same or they may differ, oddly enough, by a number of cents a litre.

I often wonder if the prices at the pump are accurate. Those are a few reasons why I am interested in today's debate. I think that Bill C-14 is a good start, and because of that, I agree with it in principle. It would amend the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and the Weights and Measures Act. However, the bill does not directly address collusion problems amongst oil companies, nor does it effectively prevent sudden gas price increases. I still believe that we need to continue our efforts in this area and encourage the members to pass Bill C-452.

In order to better understand the Bloc Québécois' position, it is important to understand what this bill is proposing. As its title indicates, the bill would make two amendments to two different acts. It would amend the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act by providing for higher maximum fines for offences, as well as punishing repeat offenders. It would also amend the Weights and Measures Act to require that retailers cause any device that they use in trade or have in their possession to be examined within a prescribed period. Non-compliance could result in penalties.

Bill C-14 introduces fines for violations of the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act. An inspector who noticed a violation would be able to impose a penalty on the offender.

In addition, a person who wanted to contest a fine would have to prove that he had exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the violation.

Another interesting point is that the penalties can be cumulative. A violation that continues for more than one day is considered a separate violation for every day during which it continues. This measure is more stringent, because it requires offenders to act quickly and make the necessary changes to comply with the act.

Still in the section on amendments to the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act, Bill C-14 would allow the Minister of Industry to make public the names and address of persons who had violated the act. The advantage of releasing this sort of information is that people could avoid offending retailers.

We noted that a violation under the act would not constitute a Criminal Code offence, which means that an individual found guilty under Bill C-14 would not have a criminal record. This should be examined in more detail in committee.

Bill C-14 also amends the Weights and Measures Act. One of these amendments would allow inspectors to enter a retailer's premises. A government-appointed inspector who had reasonable grounds to believe that a violation had been committed could examine and seize any document that could prove that there was a violation. Under this provision, the inspector could even limit access to the premises and require that the retailer stop operating faulty equipment.

Bill C-14 provides for large increases in the penalties under the Weights and Measures Act. A person found guilty under the act would not be fined $1,000, as now, but up to $10,000, in addition to being liable to imprisonment of not more than six months for a first offence.

In the case of a first offence prosecuted by indictment, the fine is increased to $25,000 and can be accompanied by a maximum prison sentence of two years. In the case of a re-offence, the bill increases the maximum fine to $20,000 and if a repeat offender is tried for another conviction on indictment, the fine can go up to $50,000 with a maximum prison sentence of two years.

I am very anxious to hear the minister's arguments on this once public servants are invited to appear before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to justify these sentences and elaborate on the problems at the pumps.

Much like the amendments to the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act, the proposed changes to the Weights and Measures Act will allow for cumulative sentences to be imposed for each of the days the offender is found to be in violation. The bill introduces stricter penalties and allows for cumulative sentences. Repeat offenders will be punished. That is basically what the bill aims to do.

The Bloc Québécois has several concerns. When the Conservative government prorogued Parliament in December 2009, the Bloc Québécois began a pre-budget tour. I met with many citizens and various associations from Vaudreuil-Soulanges to find out what they wanted and what they expected from the budget. These meetings confirmed that the public's main concerns are the environment and the economy. The Bloc Québécois' positions are explained in the document Saisir l'occasion pour le Québec.

As I said in my speech, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-14 in principle, but Bill C-452 is also a direct response to the problems related to competition. My colleagues, the hon. members for Shefford and Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, will discuss that a little later today.

The Bloc Québécois' Bill C-452 addresses the flaws in Bill C-14. At the risk of repeating myself, we have some concerns about Bill C-14, but since we are a responsible serious party, we are suggesting solutions.

In response to Bill C-14 and the shortcomings of the measures put in place by the January 2009 budget implementation bill, we have introduced Bill C-452, which would give real powers to the Competition Bureau. The Bureau could act on its own and initiate inquiries, without waiting for permission from the minister or for a complaint to be filed. If the Bureau had reasonable doubts, it could investigate.

Bill C-452 would strengthen the Competition Bureau and would better protect the public against the actions of some businesses, which might take advantage of their position to unfairly fleece and gouge consumers.

We have other possible solutions. My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I strongly believe that we must adopt a comprehensive strategy to combat the rising cost of petroleum products. There are three criteria needed to apply this comprehensive strategy.

The first criterion to make our comprehensive strategy a success is that we must continue to support initiatives that help us decrease our dependence on oil. The rising cost of oil is making Quebec poorer. Increased prices affect the economy in many other ways. Increased exports of Alberta oil tend to increase the value of the Canadian dollar. Our manufacturing companies are the ones who suffer.

The Bloc Québécois has three ideas to decrease our dependence on oil, and my colleagues can read about them in detail on the Bloc Québécois site, because the document is public.

We must increase the budget of the ecoEnergy for renewable heat program, and expand its scope to solar thermal power, to include forest biomass.

We need a program to support the use of forestry byproducts in energy and ethanol production. We have to stimulate new product research and development. We can do this by offering refundable tax credits for research and development so that companies can benefit even if they are at the development stage and are not yet making a profit.

There are many other suggestions and ways to reduce our dependence on oil. We just have to be bold and focus on the importance of acting now to help the environment. We need to think about what consumers, what our fellow citizens, what Quebeckers are really paying for when they use oil products.

Bill C-452 meets one of those criteria. Its goal is to discipline the oil industry. As parliamentarians, we have to show people that we are ready to protect their interests.

I encourage members to discipline the industry by voting for Bill C-452 because it gives more powers to the Competition Bureau. The government should commit to setting up a petroleum monitoring agency. It is time for oil companies to respect people. They have to be accountable.

The final criterion is to make the oil industry contribute. The price of oil is going up, which results in higher prices for transportation and many consumer goods. Because of this, the oil industry is raking in huge profits. The very least these companies can do is pay their fair share of taxes.

As part of our comprehensive strategy to address the rising cost of oil products, we want the government to eliminate tax breaks. In 2003, the government cut oil companies' taxes from 28% to 21%. In 2007, the Conservative government proposed another tax cut, and according to the 2007 economic update, oil companies will be taxed 15% in 2012. Why should such a rich sector of the economy benefit from so many tax breaks?

The oil industry needs to be part of the solution. The $3.6 billion pocketed by oil companies is not available to the public. That money could be reinvested in society.

Our comprehensive strategy to address rising oil costs is reasonable and feasible. There are only three ways to change the way we deal with oil. We have to reduce our dependence on oil, make the oil industry pay its share by eliminating tax breaks, and discipline the oil industry with Bill C-452.

I will give the House a short overview. In May 2003, before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, the commissioner of competition pointed out that the Competition Bureau did not have the authority to initiate an inquiry.

Since 2003, subsequent governments have not taken action. The government never takes action when the price of gas fluctuates. It believes its inertia is justified by the fact that the Competition Bureau is not able to prove that there are agreements among oil companies to fix the price of gas.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in my speech I tried to remind the House of some important points in the history of the Quebec nation and the attempts we have made. We have tried everything, in fact. It is unrealistic to think that Canada can be reformed.

Canada is going to continue building itself regardless of the motions moved in this House. As long as these motions remain symbolic and have no legal weight, they will remain inconsequential.

The federal government's response as reflected in certain recent bills, such as the one on Quebec's democratic weight, and the attacks on the spending power in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction are merely arguments in favour of us pursuing our path towards sovereignty.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it must maintain and continue to refine its main tools for economic intervention. That includes immigration and the whole range of economic tools. This week, we will see the corporate community opposing the centralization of the securities commission in Toronto, which is an example of a federal attack on Quebec and its economic and political interests.

I would also like to remind the member of the Quebec government's negotiations and concessions in terms of immigration at the time of the Meech Lake accord. The federal government enshrined the possibility for any province to negotiate the equivalent of a Cullen-Couture agreement with Ottawa.

Quebec got nothing more than an administrative agreement guaranteeing that it would receive a number of immigrants proportional to its population. The Quebec government is asking for more authority when it comes to immigration, and it is still waiting.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry for her good words. The amount of work I do in my constituency is huge and I go about it diligently. I keep at it. It is a round-the-clock job that is a pleasure to do. I count myself fortunate to be able to do my job.

I was listening to hon. members speak. I remember 1990. I remember the Meech Lake accord saga because, at that time, I was beginning to form my ideas as I came of age. The first newspaper article that my father put under my nose on my birthday was a critique of the Meech Lake accord; that was on June 18, 1990. It is quite interesting that, at the time those discussions were taking place, I was also in the House as a political staffer. I was able to listen to discussions from both sides of the House on Quebec's claims.

So here are my views on the future of Quebec in Canada.

This year, in fact, marks both the 20th anniversary of the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and the 20th anniversary of the Bloc Québécois being in the House of Commons. My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I humbly invite our dear House of Commons colleagues to consider the results of the Canada-wide poll conducted for the Intellectuels pour la souveraineté du Québec and the Bloc Québécois. The document is quite eloquent. In the study's findings, members should easily recognize the answers to their questions about the constitutional expectations of Quebeckers.

We have to point out that those who still think that federalism is “reformable“ would do well to equip themselves with incredible patience because Canadian public opinion has regressed in 20 years.

Publishing this opinion poll at this time is most appropriate and allows us to clarify the visions for Quebec in the future. We have two roads before us. There is the road on which we are currently travelling within the Canadian federal framework, with no other vision than the status quo, which, for Quebec, means moving backwards. The other road, sovereignty, remains the only possible one.

Quebec is marching towards sovereignty, and today we have the opportunity to remember the road of federalism on which we have been travelling for so long, for too long.

There are three attributes of sovereignty: the capacity to make legislation, the capacity to act and speak on one’s own behalf on the international stage, and the capacity to levy income tax.

The Quebec nation cannot build a future for itself on the basis of a perpetual “no”.

I thank the Bloc Québécois for allowing us to hear colleagues from all over Canada express their views on the constitutional issues of concern to Quebec.

Why is the future of Quebec in Canada less certain than people think? It is an illusion to believe that Canada is prepared to step back and concede any power whatsoever to Quebec and the provinces. Canada has always continued over the years to build itself and to falsely claim powers which, for the most part, will never be ceded back to Quebec and the provinces.

There are certain historical landmarks from the time of the conquest in 1763 until 1867, which I will not be addressing in my speech but which are important all the same. I invite my colleagues to study them to find answers to their questions about relations between the British colonial government and its French-speaking colony.

Since the Canadian Constitution came into force on July 1, 1867, the interpretation of its text, particularly as regards the powers and the roles of each level of government, has been the subject of incessant quarrels and discussions.

The government did this at a time of crisis, in 1942. Previously, the federal government did not levy personal income tax or provide employment insurance.

Despite the promises of renewed federalism in 1980, in 1982 the federal government signed the forced patriation of the Constitution from the Parliament in London, adding to it an amending formula which now allowed it to appropriate powers in other fields, with the consent of certain provinces but without a decision by either of the founding peoples. Quebec will not sign the Constitution.

In 1982, Quebec experienced a fundamental setback. From 1960 to 1976, Quebec had claimed a veto to guarantee the long-term security of the province.

As Georges Mathews notes:

The Constitution of 1982 enables the federal government to take over provincial jurisdictions bit by bit as long as the anglophone majority agrees. With the new amending formula, Quebec has less power than the four Atlantic provinces combined, which have less than a third of its population.

In the wake of another promise, this time in 1984, to integrate Quebec into the new Constitution with honour and enthusiasm, a new round of negotiations began. The federal government and the provinces agreed to accept Quebec's basic conditions.

To answer my colleagues opposite, Quebec's basic conditions were the following: a recognition of Quebec as a distinct society; a constitutional veto for Quebec and the other provinces; the right to financial compensation for any province that chooses to opt out of any future federal programs in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction; increased provincial powers with respect to immigration; and that three judges from Quebec be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada by the federal government on nomination by the Government of Quebec.

Robert Bourassa wanted Quebec and the provinces to be given exclusive jurisdiction over language. He wanted more power over labour and communications. The position of anglophones in Quebec is difficult to understand and the accord therefore enshrined duality. Quebec wanted to limit the federal government's spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

In 1987, despite an initial agreement that seemed to echo the Meech Lake accord, the provinces had three years to get any agreement in principle approved by their legislatures. It was then that this attempt to reconcile the demands of Quebec and the provinces failed and revealed a clearer picture: the rest of Canada refused to recognize the specificity of Quebec.

We must remember that for the first time since 1867, Meech Lake symbolically gave Quebec explicit recognition of its specificity. We must also remember that, contrary to what English Canada might believe, Quebec did not get everything it wanted. It was Quebec that ended up making substantial concessions before signing the accord.

Robert Bourassa agreed that the federal government could impose its conditions within provincial jurisdictions. That was a major concession. According to professors Andrée Lajoie and Jacques Frémont:

What may appear at first sight to be a federal government concession to Quebec and the provinces will be revealed, after more detailed examination, as a major victory for Ottawa, who will thereby finally be able to do what it has been attempting for years, namely to acquire the constitutional authority to invest and, to all practical purposes, control every area of exclusively provincial jurisdiction.

In 1992, the Charlottetown accord was defeated. In 1997, still without Quebec, the premiers of the nine other provinces rejected the unique character of Quebec society in the Calgary declaration, which we do not hear much about, because it did not become an interpretive clause in the Canadian Constitution.

In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled that if there was a clear majority vote in favour of the secession of Quebec, the government would be required to negotiate the terms of secession in good faith. In 1999, the government introduced the Clarity Act, which changed the rules. Once again, the federal government reminded Quebec that it was in control, that it had control over one of its provinces.

My colleagues have spoken about other events in recent history, so I will not repeat them. However, as I just showed, there are certainly no cure-alls to be found in the Canadian Constitution. No matter where you look, and despite the existence of any agreements, the government could invoke any number of reasons to unilaterally make a decision without the agreement of Quebec or another province.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2010

I listened carefully to the member for Mégantic—L'Érable and I have a simple question for him. Could he enumerate the five basic conditions included in the Meech Lake accord?

Fairness at the Pumps Act May 10th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated my colleague's speech, which I listened to carefully. I wonder if he could elaborate on the importance of defining Quebec's public policies on renewable energies. I would also like him to explain how fluctuating gas prices affect businesses in Quebec.

Canadian Human Rights Act May 10th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today to speak to Bill C-389 introduced by the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas. I have worked with him on a number of occasions and I am very pleased that our paths are crossing again. I also very much look forward to the debates in the House of Commons on this matter. Indeed, a specific group of individuals has been put at a disadvantage simply because the existing Canadian legislation does not address this issue.

I thank the member for introducing this bill to modify the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. He is proposing changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.

The bill would also amend the Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression on the list of distinguishing characteristics in sections 318 and 319, the provisions that identify advocating genocide and public incitement of hatred as crimes.

Lastly, it would add gender identity and gender expression to the Criminal Code as objects of prejudice constituting aggravating factors in the commission of a crime.

The Quebec identity is based on a certain number of principles and values that the Bloc Québécois has attempted to identify. They include the equality of men and women, French as the official language and the common public language, democracy, fundamental rights, secularism, pluralism, collective solidarity, respect for heritage, respect for the historical rights of the anglophone community and respect for the rights of aboriginal peoples.

Like the Quebec nation, which it represents in the House, the Bloc Québécois is open to the diversity of gender and anyone who wishes to embrace its platform and its values is welcomed with open arms, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Bloc Québécois supports the principle of Bill C-389. Other jurisdictions in Canada already have policies on gender diversity. The bill fosters the promotion of and respect for human rights by prohibiting any form of discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.

Therefore, it is appropriate to support the principle of this bill because gender identity and expression will be protected under the Human Rights Act. It will no longer be necessary to refer to ambiguous interpretations of the term “sex” to establish that all transgender people are protected by the law.

Public incitement of hatred targeting gender identity or expression will be recognized by the Criminal Code.

Does this law address a problem? That is what members will attempt to explain today. Discrimination and harassment of transgender people can take different forms. For example, a transsexual woman's right to be searched by a female police officer may be breached.

In 2009-10, a few rare cases of discrimination or harassment based on gender identity were picked up by the press in Quebec and the provinces. In October 2009, a transsexual teacher was fired and filed a complaint against the Greater Saint-Albert Catholic School Board in Edmonton. Jan Buterman alleged that, after informing his former employer that he was transitioning to become a man, he received a letter advising him that he could no longer be a supply teacher.

It is difficult to estimate how many people are victims of such discrimination in Quebec annually. However, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse noted the following in May 2009:

Sexual minority individuals and families with same-sex parents are not receiving services adapted to their situation because of heterosexist attitudes, which are often subconscious, because of continuing homophobic prejudices and behaviours, especially within institutions, and because of service providers' silence on the issue of sexual diversity.

The Commission des droits de la personne du Québec website provides more detail. When the commission refers to sexual minorities it means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender individuals. In its report the Commission recommended a national policy to combat homophobia that takes into consideration the realities of sexual minorities— lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and transgender people—and respects their differences.

In the United States, where the Human Rights Campaign organization addresses cases of discrimination involving sexual identity, it is estimated that one homicide in 1,000 is a hate crime against a transgender person.

In closing, even though the bill does not concern a daily problem, it is nonetheless worthy of consideration. In Quebec alone, an estimated 3,000 people have changed their sexual identity and that number does not include all the transgender people who have not undergone a sex change operation.

These people, who are frequently victims of discrimination at the workplace, in the healthcare system, when looking for housing, and so on, would benefit directly from guaranteed protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec website provides clarification on what is protected in Quebec. The declaration of rights and freedoms in the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms does not specifically mention sexual expression and identity. It states:

Every person has a right to full and equal recognition and exercise of his human rights and freedoms, without distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age except as provided by law, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap.

Nevertheless, Quebec's Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse clearly indicated that discrimination on the basis of “sex” includes the female, male, and transsexual genders.

Furthermore, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal—which examines a claim once the Commission has determined it is admissible—ruled that, “Discrimination, even based on the process of the unification of disparate and contradictory sexual criteria, may also constitute sex-based discrimination while sex is at its most vaguely defined.” Therefore, it could be determined that a transgender person who has not completed a sex-change operation has been the victim of gender-based discrimination.

The Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, which handles cases regarding unlawful discrimination and harassment for reasons prohibited by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, would therefore recognize the rights of transgender people.

This recognition of the rights of all transgender people by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal reflects the tradition of openness and diversity of the people of Quebec.

Just like the Quebec nation it represents, the Bloc Québécois is open to diversity of genders, and any person who has their own values and follows their own program is welcomed with open arms, regardless of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

What legislation exists elsewhere in North America? In the United States, 18 states have passed laws prohibiting gender-based discrimination. President Barack Obama supports federal legislation, the employment non-discrimination act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace.

A number of businesses that operate in different jurisdictions with varying laws regarding discrimination on the basis of gender identity are protecting themselves against potential lawsuits by adopting their own policies. We have come a long way since 2000, when statistics showed that only three companies had such policies. Now, 41% of Fortune 500 companies have included gender identity in their anti-discrimination policies.