Randall Garrison, the newly minted NDP MP for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, has been named as the NDP’s new queer critic, with Dany Morin as the associate critic.
“I’m really pleased and excited to be able to work on behalf of our community at the national level,” Garrison says. “There’s lots of opportunities open to us, and first thing that we’ll be doing is reintroducing the transgender rights bill in my name, and we’ll be working very hard to get that through this Parliament.”
Garrison is number 38 on the Order of Precedence for Private Members Business, which is determined by a lottery.
“It’s going to mean a lot of hard work for me, and I’m really quite happy to do it,” Garrison adds. “It’s going to mean I get to know the [queer] community across the country much better than I do now, so that’s exciting. Apart from that, it’s the first day, and I haven’t thought much farther than that. I’m just pleased to have been appointed.”
Morin is similarly thrilled with his associate critic appointment.
“The [queer] cause is very dear to my heart as a gay MP, and there’s a lot of work to do,” Morin says. “In the last decade, we’ve improved our rights, but there are still a lot of things to do.
“About two days ago, a statistic came that between 2008 and 2009, there was an 18 percent increase in hate crimes toward [queer] people, and most of the violent crimes related to hate crimes were due to sexual orientation,” Morin says. “The [queer] issues are still relevant and we’re going to address that very soon.”
Morin reinforces that the trans bill will be the first priority of the NDP’s queer caucus.
“We’re likely going to tie that to the hate crimes that are still going up every single year, and very soon we’re going to look into anti-bullying laws to protect the kids who suffer from bullying every single day,” Morin says.
Garrison feels the party’s queer caucus is going to be a strong team.
“We’re quite excited to have four of us in the same caucus to work together,” Garrison says. “We’ll also be talking with the GLBTT [commission] at the federal [party] convention next week in Vancouver and developing a fuller sense of what members of the party want to happen, and then we’ll be reaching out to all across the [queer] community and talk about bringing their concerns to the House of Commons.”
As of yet, Garrison hasn’t seen a list of policy resolutions for the convention.
Garrison also hopes that his international experience will be of use to him in his new critic role.
“I have always done international human rights work, and I have always done it as an out gay man,” Garrison says. “I intend, in this role, to reach out across our borders. One of the issues that’s going to be important to us will be immigration and refugee issues here, and trying to get some clear guidelines and some fair rules in place for refugee claimants in particular whose lives are at risk, and I think some of my international contacts there may come in handy.”