Sure it's summer, but that doesn't mean our MPs aren't still busy. NDP MP Bill Siksay was in town to catch up on some business before he headed off to Halifax for the NDP convention this weekend, so I caught up with him in his office.
Q: How’s your summer going so far?
A: It’s going great. I had an interesting time in Copenhagen; I had an interesting time with Pride in Vancouver.
Q: I didn’t see any photos of you from Pride.
A: That’s just as well.
Q: We got Hedy’s, and they were quite something.
A: Hedy’s costume was spectacular, but Hedy made a fashion error with her costume, because she had this decorative facemask on that had this sparkly mesh thing over her face, and she walked by a lot of people in the parade who didn’t recognise her. It was a spectacular costume though, and she tried to throw me off. I saw her at the launch of Pride, and she said that she had to go home and continue to sew sequins onto her costume, which led me to believe that her costume was going to be a mass of sequins – not a sequin to be found. And she said that she had just thrown me off to make sure that I didn’t try and outdo her. That’ll be the day when I outdo Hedy’s Pride costume! But Jack Layton was there, and Finn Donnelly, our candidate in the New Westminster-Coquitlam by-election, and then a large group of provincial MLAs and it was a great response. Whenever Jack’s there, we have a lot of fun and a positive response. It was fun.
And Copenhagen! Copenhagen was once again the World Outgames model of having sport, culture and human rights as the three facets of the World Outgames. It’s a spectacular model, and they really do put huge effort into all components of that. The human rights conference, which Svend Robinson co-chaired with an educator from Peru, was a stellar conference once again as it had been in Montreal back in 2006. There were over 800 folks from around the world, and three days of a terrific conference. Canadians were really well represented. The labour movement sent a lot of representatives, as one of the conference streams was on labour. One was on business, one was on politics, education – so there were a lot of Canadian labour activists there, queer labour activists. Canadians were a real presence at the conference. The cultural side of things was spectacular too. Every time you turned a corner in Copenhagen there was another public square with another set of events related to the Outgames on, and there was all the support stuff too. It was a terrific, terrific few days that I spent in Copenhagen.
Q: What are you looking forward to at the convention?
A: I’m always looking forward to the GLBT caucus meeting. We had the largest meeting of the caucus ever in Quebec in 2006, so we’re hoping that there’s a good showing this year as well by queer New Democrats. It’s a chance for us to take stock on what’s gone on the last while, and make some plans towards the future, elect our co-chairs, that kind of thing. There are a few resolutions before convention that are related to queer issues. Probably the most important one is a comprehensive queer health resolution that encourages the NDP to support the development of a Canadian national queer health strategy along the lines of the Rainbow Health Initiative, and also to support ensuring that trans Canadians have access to sex reassignment surgery if that’s appropriate in their situation. That’s probably the key resolution. There’s some resolutions supporting my Private Member’s Bill, but that’s already party policy, so it’s nice to see that ridings have taken that step. It’s good to have support for trans rights coming from the riding associations.