Transgender bill faces obstacles in the Senate
Bill C-389, the so-called bathroom bill that would add “gender identity” and gender expression” to Canada’s human rights and hate crimes laws, looks to be stalled in the Senate. As of press time, there was no sponsor to permit the process to consider the bill to move forward.
The homosexualist newspaper Xtra! Reports that the bill’s House sponsor, Bill Siskay (NDP, Burnaby-Douglas) has been privately criticized for not finding a Senate sponsor. When he does, the Conservatives are expected to appoint a critic for the bill, which the paper reports will not be Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth, an open lesbian and chair of the Senate Human Rights Committee. Ruth said she wants to move an amendment to the bill to add “sex” to the list of specially protected groups under the hate crimes law.
However, a parliamentary expert said the amendment might be ruled beyond the scope of the bill. Two MPs, Nicole Demers (BQ, Laval) and Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Lib., Etobicoke Centre) have private member’s bills on the Order Paper to add “sex” to Section 318 (4) of the Criminal Code (hate law). Xtra! reports that Ruth hopes Demers’ bill will pass the House of Commons before Siksay’s bill reaches committee for study, so she would not need to attach an amendment.
If an amendment is made to the Senate version of Siksay’s bill, it would have to return to the House for reconsideration. Senator James Cowan, the Liberal opposition leader in the upper chamber, said he wants to avoid prolonging consideration of the bill so it can be passed sooner rather than later.
Ruth said it is too early to tell whether the bill will be defeated in the Senate, as pro-family groups are openly hoping for. “It’s a free vote,” she told Xtra! “We don’t know what the numbers will be.” Ruth also said if her amendment is added to it, it would be difficult for her fellow Conservatives to vote against it because it would be considered anti-woman and hurt the Tories politically.
Campaign Life Coalition national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas told LifeSiteNews.com that she is “cautiously optimistic” the Senate will defeat the bill.
She urged pro-family Canadians to contact their province’s senators to urge them to defeat the bill when it comes to a vote.
Two Conservative senators who might vote for the bill are Linda Frum, who sits on the board of EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere), and Noel Kinsella, the Speaker of the Senate who helped get sexual orientation amendments to the Human Rights Act through the Senate in 2005.
Progressive Conservative Senator Elaine McCoy has already committed to supporting the bill, saying the flood of letters in support of C-389 moved her.
Furthermore, Joan Fraser, the chair of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee, said unlike the House Justice and Human Rights committee which rushed the bill through without hearing witnesses from either side, the Senate committee will hear testimony on the bill. “I would certainly like to hear from some transgendered people, and in all fairness, you have to hear also from opponents of the bill,” she told Xtra!