Both the NDP and the Liberal Party have reintroduced a bill that would protect trans Canadians from discrimination.
The bill was reintroduced to the House of Commons first on Sept 19, by Liberal MP Hedy Fry, and again on Sept 21, by NDP queer issues critic Randall Garrison.
The private member’s bill, which passed during the last Parliament after it was brought in by NDP MP Bill Siksay, had been awaiting Senate approval when the federal election was called.
At the time, the bill was supported by most members of the opposition, as well as a handful of Conservative MPs.
The bill would give trans Canadians explicit rights under the Human Rights Act and the hate-crimes provision of the Criminal Code.
Earlier this year, Toronto activist Enza Anderson told CTV’s Question Period that the bill was a huge achievement for the trans community because it “gives teeth to other human rights legislation.”
Fry says she decided to reintroduce the bill when Siksay said he would not run for reelection.
“I said, ‘Look, if you’re leaving and the bill doesn’t get through, I will bring it back for you,’” Fry says, noting that she sent a letter to the NDP’s Libby Davies about the issue. “I said, ‘It’s not about you or me, or the NDP or the Liberals, it’s about trans persons, so let’s come together and work on it.’”
Garrison says he looks forward to working with Fry, as well as any Conservatives he can convince to lend their support.
Several Conservative MPs, including cabinet ministers James Moore and John Baird, originally supported the bill.
Garrison also hopes to fast track the bill.
“We’ll see who’s ready to go,” he says. “We’ve already activated all of our networks across the country, and I’m making my contacts across the aisle, and we’ll be ready to go fairly soon, I hope. Since this has already passed the House of Commons once, that may mean we’re ready sooner than some of the other private member’s bills, and in that case we might move up, but it’ll certainly be within the next six months.”
Neither Fry nor Garrison can predict whether the bill’s second incarnation will face more resistance than the first.
Garrison remains cautious.
“I’m in the same position that [Siksay] was – you have to get it through the House first,” Garrison says. “I would hope we could convince senators to pass the bill as is, but I’ll start working on that as soon as I’ve got my votes secured in the House of Commons.”