3 min

Siksay remembers Trans Day of Remembrance

Trans Day of Remembrance did not go unnoticed in the House on Friday, thanks entirely to Bill Siksay. He started out with a Members’ Statement:

Mr. Speaker, around the world and in Canada, in hundreds of cities and towns, people are gathering today to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance, to remember the members of the transsexual and transgendered communities who have died because of transphobic violence.
In the past year, we know of 121 trans people who have died violently around the world. The actual number is much higher. Trans Canadians face violence and harassment, and also discrimination on the job, in housing and health care.
Given this, explicit human rights protection is needed in law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. Parliament will soon have the opportunity to debate these changes and MPs will be able to speak out and take action.
Recognizing and celebrating the life experiences of trans people today and throughout the year, New Democrats stand in solidarity with the transsexual and transgendered communities and recommit to working to end violence and to establish full human rights for trans Canadians.

Later, during Question Period proper, he brought up trans rights again.

Mr. Speaker, today around the world Transgender Day of Remembrance is being marked to remember transsexual and transgender people who have died due to transphobic violence.
In Canada transgender people face violence, harassment and discrimination in the workplace, in health care and in housing.
Will the government introduce legislation to add explicit protection for transsexual and transgender Canadians in the Canadian Human Rights Act? If not, will the government support private members' legislation to add gender identity and expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination?

Peter Van Loan, the Public Safety Minister, answered:

Mr. Speaker, our government is of course strongly committed to protecting Canadians from all forms of criminal violence and indeed protecting all Canadians. I should underline that.
That is why we introduced the Tackling Violent Crime Act and had it passed by the House. That is why we are looking to repeal the faint hope clause. That is why we are eliminating the bonus credits for time served for those who are facing prosecution for serious violent offences.
As for the specific legislative suggestions the member has made, I am happy to share those with the Minister of Justice.

Erm, okay. Glad you’re taking it seriously and not just using it for another platform for your backwards “tough on crime” legislation – err, never mind. And by the way – where were the Liberals on this file?

Elsewhere, there was a bit of a deal made about how Billy Bragg was in town, and he went on Power & Politics to talk about Senate Reform (as well as copyright reform). All of this might have been interesting if he had a clue about what he was talking about. Unfortunately, Bragg seems not to understand some of the basic functions of an Upper Chamber – such as the necessity for institutional memory in Parliament, and what it means to have an independent body not beholden to an electorate in the face of bad populist legislation. Kind of like the courts. Also, his idea for reform – making it an indirectly elected body selected by proportional representation based on the same electoral cycle as the Commons? Would never work. Ever. For one, how exactly is it supposed to hold the executive to account when the government would always control the Senate under such a distribution scheme? Seems like a huge loophole to me. Also, it wouldn’t be accountable because its membership would be drawn from party lists – virtually like the kinds of patronage appointments currently being made. Guess he didn’t think about that bit either. Perhaps Bragg should stick to music.

Tongues are wagging after Stéphane Dion’s wife, Janine Krieber, wrote a post on her Facebook page that railed against the party for its betrayal of Dion, and that it’s headed in the wrong direction under Ignatieff. The post was quickly removed, but it’s not exactly going to help notions of party unity – especially when phrases like “Toronto elites” get thrown around. Meanwhile, Ignatieff’s new chief of staff is talking about it now being a “long game,” with no election for seven months to a year. Good to know.

Filed under irony is the speech that Harper made to members of the Ethnic media about the importance of press freedom – which would have been ironic in and of itself, considering that Harper is no fan of the press – but he was hidden away before the speech, and whisked away immediately after so as to avoid taking questions from any reporters in the area. Funny that. But hey, press freedom is important – but I guess to Harper that means it’s important that it simply exists, not that it actually holds political leaders to account. Or that it holds other political leaders except him to account. Either way, there seems to be a disconnect there.

Up today – You can bet the Afghan detainee issue is going to dominate Question Period again, what with an EU diplomat backing up Richard Colvin’s testimony, and comments made by the Chief of Defence Staff – along with an independent study into detainee abuse claims – which also seem to add weight to Colvin’s credibility. Your move, MacKay.
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