UPDATE – MAY 10: Read our recap of the first hour of debate on the trans rights bill.
NDP MP Bill Siksay's Private Members' Bill, C-389, is coming up for its
first hour of debate on Monday, making it the first time trans rights
have been debated in the House of Commons. Xtra's Dale Smith caught up with Siksay
after Question Period on Thursday to ask him about his preparations for the debate.
Q: Monday is the first hour of debate for your
bill. How are your preparations coming along for that? And
consultations with other members – how is that going?
A: It’s good, and I’m very optimistic about the
prospects of the bill at this point. I’m looking forward to the first
hour of debate on Monday. I haven’t got my speech done yet, but I’m
looking forward to doing that. I’m feeling some pressure, frankly,
because this is a debate about a group of people who aren’t represented
that we know of in the House of Commons – there’s no out representative
of the trans community, and I feel that responsibility very heavily at
this point, and how I represent the situation of a group of people of
which I’m not a member. That’ll be the challenge for the speech, but
hopefully I’ll do right by the community.
Q: What’s the feedback you’ve heard so far from other MPs?
A: I think it’s fairly typical of the kinds of
questions that you get asked about it. I think there is broad support
in opposition parties. There are questions on the government side, but
they’re not surprising questions – they’re reasonable questions that
I’ve heard so far. We’ll have to see how the debate unfolds in terms of
where the tangible support is, where the lack of support is. I’m very
hopeful that it’s going to get to committee at this point.
Q: Do you have any idea of how long until the second hour of debate is going to roll around?
Q: Do you think it’ll happen before the summer break?
A: I think they’re scheduled until around the 4th of
June, and the next schedule I haven’t seen yet, and I don’t know how
many bills are before me coming for a second hour, so I don’t know yet.
The House is scheduled to rise on the 23rd, so that’s about two or
three weeks for scheduling stuff. The House sometimes rises early, so
there are lots of questions about that and I don’t have an idea yet.
Q: I have heard some grassroots people talking
about your bill coming up, and to have people start phoning their MPs.
What would you suggest that people do if they want to get involved?
A: All along we’ve said it’s really important that
folks talk to their MPs. Whether they’re from the trans community, or
just an ally of the trans community, or they’re friends or family of
the trans community, it would be really important for them to talk to
MPs, to let them know that this is important legislation to them, and
that goes without saying that it would be very helpful. That lobby
should continue, and those are good lobbyists that we want to encourage
Dale Smith will be in the House to cover the debate on Monday morning, when debate gets underway at 11 am.
Dale Smith is Xtra's federal politics reporter. Read his blog Hill Queeries every weekday.