After a rather animated Question Period, I spoke to Bill Siksay in the foyer of the House of Commons about the last stretch of the spring sitting of Parliament.
Q: We’re in the final five weeks. What are you looking to accomplish before you rise for the summer?
A: I’ve tabled my Private Members’ Bill on adding gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect trans folk, so right now I’m trying to get some seconders for that bill. I’m organising to have folks from as many different political parties as I can to sign on as a seconder for that bill, so that’s one of the things I hope to see. Pursuing a number of other projects, I’m looking at the whole issue of criminalisation of AIDS/HIV, and how the courts are dealing with those folks who have been charged with “reckless endangerment” or whatever the exact word of the charge is – but exploring with folks of the community about how we might proceed, how we might clarify the law so that it can’t be used in a way that undermines public health goals and personal liberty goals around folks who live with HIV and how we deal with AIDS/HIV in the community.
Q: How about things that you’re doing in the [Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics] committee right now.
A: The committee right now is working on a report on the Privacy Commissioner’s twelve quick fixes to the privacy legislation, so we should finish that shortly I hope. We’re also getting to the point where we’ll probably write a report on the Information Commissioner’s suggestions for quick fixes to the Access to Information law in Canada, so those are two projects that are before the committee that we’re working on there.
Q: This isn’t your first time around the “Silly Season,” so what are your techniques for avoiding insanity during it?
A: It’s funny you say insanity – I walked into the House today just as Question Period was about to start, as Statements were wrapping up – the energy of the place hit me like a tonne of bricks. It was like walking into bedlam. The animation of the people through the place, and we certainly saw that through Question Period.
Q: It was certainly one of the more raucous Question Periods of late.
A: And sometimes you feel like it’s people getting very excited when they’re on the ropes about something, so maybe that’s something of what’s going on. I think people are tired – people who’ve been through minority governments get exhausted, so it will be very interesting to see what this place is like after a four-week stretch or a four-and-a-half week stretch, which we haven’t done so far this Parliament. And especially at this time of year.
Q: And just wait until the Ottawa summer kicks in too.
A: When we’re all hot, humid and sweaty – or “glowing” as the case may be. [laughs]