Thursday, February 10, 2011

For Trans Equality Write To Your Senators

Some good news this morning; from suite 101:
Bill C-389, introduced by NDP MP Bill Saskay and read for the first time in May 2009, provides rights and protections to the transgendered. The bill, opposed by the Conservative government but supported by the three opposition parties, passed third and final reading by a vote of 143-135. 
The purpose of the bill is to extend the concept of equality to transgendered persons in respect to all matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government. The legislation is to ensure the transgendered have equal opportunity and equal access in order to better meets their needs.
So the bill amends the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to protect people from discrimination and hate crimes on the basis of "gender identity" and "gender expression".

To me, this is rather a no-brainer. If a trans individual brought a Charter challenge regarding their protection under federal legislations, they would easily win. They're clearly an analogous group to the groups that are explicitly protected by the Charter. And while the Supreme Court of Canada has been overly deferential to the government as of late, they do understand that their purpose is to protect people, and based on her statements I think that Chief Justice McLachlin considers herself progressive at heart. So I don't see them buying the justifications for excluding trans individuals from protective legislation.

Those objections, as cited on Pam's House Blend, being: "The group is ill-defined!" (Lots of groups, and things in law are. Doesn't stop them from being defined.) "This is an imposition on the rights of individuals to discriminate!" (Yeah, that's not an acceptable argument.) The one argument that might carry some weight is the "But then men will be able to go in womens washrooms!" one. I really hope the court is smarter than that. But even if they do buy that one, as a justification it does not pass the minimal impairment test - it does not justify trans individuals being excluded from protection against all discrimination and hate crimes.

The way I see it, bill C-389 saves the time, effort, and cost of a Charter challenge that eventually will happen. But then, the Cons have proven from day one have proven themselves to be anti-Charter rights, by terminating the court challenges program, which funded equality-based challenges brought by disadvantaged groups. So, I'm disgusted by the Cons, but I really didn't expect anything better.

The thing that got me was this, again from the salon101 piece:
Although Bill C-389 passed the House of Commons, the Conservative dominated Senate is likely to prevent the bill from passing into law.
As an unelected body, it really is not up to the Senate to block legislation passed by the House of Commons. It happens rarely and usually on major issues that they feel have not properly been put before the public, like passing NAFTA and restrictions on abortion. And it would be painfully ironic for the Cons to use the Senate to block this bill, seeing as they have gone on about how the Senate is unrepresentative and undemocratic since they were the Reform Party.

So please, write to your Senators. Let them know that you support bill C-389. You can send mail to Senators postage free at this address:

The Senate of Canada
Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A4
Especially write to the Conservative ones. Especially the ones appointed by Harper. You can find a list of Senators, sorted by province and territory, here.

Image source.


  1. WTF?!?!? The Senate would actually stop this? What have they tried to stop since the GST? Anything?

  2. A few things, actually. Look up "Canadian Senate" on wikipedia

  3. Hey just killed some environmental laws passed by the majority of the commons because they could.

    Harper times are fun times.


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