Enshrining special rights for transgender, transsexuals a step closer to law

On Dec. 8, the House of Commons approved C-389 at the report stage by a vote of 143-131. C-389 is Bill Siksay’s (NDP, Burnaby-Douglas) private member’s bill that would enshrine “gender identity” and “gender expression” in the Canada Human Rights Act and hate crime provisions of the Criminal Code, thereby providing special legal rights to people who self-identify as transgender and transsexual. Pro-family groups have dubbed C-389 “the Bathroom Bill,” because homosexualist groups have advocated the amendments to hate and human rights laws saying they are necessary so that men who say they are women can use women’s washroom without repercussions.

The bill was approved by the Justice and Human Rights Committee in November by a 9-2 vote with Conservatives Brent Rathgeber and Stephen Woodworth being the lone dissenters. NDP MP Joe Comartin told Xtra! that the Conservative government supported efforts to expedite the bill through committee. Bob Dechert and Denis Lebel, parliamentary secretaries to the minister of justice, supported the bill in committee. The Dec. 8 vote was to accept the report from the committee which advised passing the bill without amendments.

C-389 now moves on to two hours of debate at third reading, which is expected in late February or early March. If passed at that point, it will move to the Senate for consideration. The bill would die, however, if an election is called in the new year.

Pro-family groups oppose the bill, saying that it promotes unnatural notions of gender. Transgender and transsexual advocates claim gender is a social construct and that discrimination against them is unjust. Pro-family groups including Campaign Life Coalition, REAL Women and the Canada Family Action say that the law would have serious social and financial ramifications for institutions such as prisons and the military which would have to make special accommodations for self-identified transgender and transsexual individuals who believe they were assigned the wrong gender. Gwen Landolt, vice president of REAL Women, said, “the implications of this bill are horrendous,” because “it changes the whole concept of gender.”

CLC national president Jim Hughes warned that because of the problematic wording of the bill – gender identity and gender expression are left undefined in the bill – the new law would be unpredictable in its application and would open unsuspecting individuals and institutions to long and costly court and human rights commission battles.

While he did not define the terms in his bill, Siksay, who is the NDP‘s LGBTT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite, Transsexual) critic and an open homosexual, told the House of Commons last May that “gender identity refers to an individual’s self-conception as being male or female, their sense of themselves as male or female. Gender expression refers to how a person’s gender identity is communicated to others through behaviour, speech, dress or mannerisms.”

Brian Rushfeldt, president of Canada Family Action, said the bill is “extremely dangerous” because it “basically reinforces the notion that gender can be anything you want… That I think is dangerous to developing youth.”

Rev. Charles McVety of Canada Christian College has also condemned the bill as dangerous to Canada’s youth. He says that if passed, the changes to Canadian law would allow predatory male cross-dressers access to women’s washrooms to attack young girls.

After C-389 passed committee with the support of Conservative MPs, McVety charged the government with selling out social conservative voters in cooperating with the NDP and Liberals to get it passed quickly without hearing witnesses. But the Prime Minister`s Office told LifeSiteNews that the committee’s vote “does not denote our support for the Bill.” Sara MacIntyre, press secretary for the Prime Minister, pointed to the fact that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has stated in the House of Commons that Bill C-389 contains provisions which are unclear and unnecessary “and that our government will not be supporting this legislation.”

All Bloc and NDP members present supported the bill. All but three Liberals in the House also voted for C-389. The Conservatives, despite the government’s support in expediting the bill, largely opposed the bill with only five Tories breaking ranks: Heritage Minister James Moore, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, and three parliamentary secretaries, Sylvie Boucher (Beauport), Gerald Keddy (South Shore-St. Margaret’s), and Shelley Glover (St. Boniface).

After the second reading vote, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff fully embraced the NDP bill, calling it a “signature initiative” for his party, saying that it represented the “Charter” and “equality” principles of the Liberal Party. Xtra! quoted Ignatieff explaining, “We’re the party of the Charter” and therefore C-389 “was important to us.”

Despite Ignatieff’s comments, three Liberals voted against the bill and another ten abstained or were not present. Opposing the bill were Jim Karygiannis (Scarborough-Agincourt), Dan McTeague (Pickering-Scarborough East), and Alan Tonks (York South-Weston). Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis) abstained and John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood), John Cannis (Scarborough Centre), and Derek Lee (Scarborough-Rouge River) were among the generally pro-family Liberals who were not present for the vote.

Pro-family leaders called for Ignatieff`s removal as leader. CLC`s Jim Hughes said that Ignatieff`s strident support for abortion and gay rights made him unfit to lead the Liberals. “The fact that he would back such a radical anti-family bill in the name of ‘equality’ shows how little he cares for the families and children of our country,” he continued, “Ignatieff is not fit to lead the Liberal party, he is not fit to lead this country, and he should be removed at once.”

REAL Women’s Gwen Landolt accused Ignatieff of wanting to impose a radical agenda on the Liberal party and Canada that is “against family, against life, against Canadian values.” She said Ignatieff is “out of touch” with most Canadians and “doesn’t understand our desires, our beliefs, our values.” She continued: “he’s coming in and superimposing his own superficial interpretation of what he wants Canada to be.”

This is Siskay’s third attempt to bring the bill, known as C-389, after it failed to make it to the House in 2006 and 2007. He introduced the current bill on May 15, 2009 and it was sent to committee with the  support of the House in June 2010.

Pro-family groups are calling upon Canadians to contact their federal representatives and urge them to vote against C-389 at third reading. CLC`s Hughes said that unless a dozen MPs change their minds about C-389, the best hope of defeating it is if an election is called before the House considers the private member’s bill in late winter.